Lots of energy-efficient buildings and hybrid vehicles. A sizable crop of workers engaged in green and clean-tech industries.
Add it all up, and Sacramento ranks No. 4 in a nationwide index of clean tech metro areas released Tuesday.
The first-ever U.S. Metro Clean Tech Index, assembled by Oregon consulting firm Clean Edge Inc., gives the Sacramento area high marks for its workforce, hybrid and electric vehicles and buildings that qualify for the federal government's Energy Star certification.
San Jose ranked first on the list of 50 metro areas, followed by San Francisco, Portland, Ore., then Sacramento.
Sacramento ranked first in one category the percentage of employees in some aspect of clean energy. About 37,000 Sacramentans, or 4.5 percent of the workforce, are in the so-called "clean economy."
Ron Pernick, managing director at Clean Edge, said the figure includes state government employees who work on clean energy programs. As the state capital, Sacramento benefits from the state's various clean tech initiatives.
"California has by far the most aggressive policies in place in the United States, and that bodes well for Sacramento," Pernick said.
And, on a per capita basis, "you're in the top 5 in electric vehicles in use," he said.
Sacramento also gets points for the comparatively clean energy produced by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, he said.
Elected officials and others in the region have targeted clean tech as a job creator. The No. 4 ranking "validates the focus on our clean tech sector," said Mayor Kevin Johnson in a prepared statement.
Meanwhile, energy-conscious homeowners in the region received a boost Tuesday. Up to $20 million in loans for retrofitting homes will be made available through a program announced by the California Rural Home Mortgage Finance Authority Homebuyers Fund.
Rocklin's Five Star Bank is providing the main financing. The $20 million represents a significant commitment for a bank with about $500 million in assets.
"We want to be supportive of energy efficiency programs," said James Beckwith, the bank's chief executive.
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. is contributing $1 million to offset some of Five Star's loan losses, if any. Because of that, the program is limited to PG&E customers in Northern California.
The program replaces a retrofit effort, funded by the federal stimulus law, that made $24 million worth of loans in the region.