Resource Conservation Sustainable City Progress Report Resource Conservation

Ecological Footprint

 RC6_Chart1_Small   RC6_Chart2_Small  RC6_Chart3_Small  
Footprint Breakdown By Category Ecological Footprint Acres per Capita
Santa Monica's Ecological Footprint


Citywide Ecological Footprint


The Ecological Footprint is a tool designed to assist in measuring humanity’s use of nature and natural resources. The city’s Ecological Footprint was measured looking at the following factors: land use, electricity use by source, natural gas use, gasoline and diesel use, transportation and vehicles, roads, housing, food, products, waste and recycling. These factors were converted into productive-land-area equivalents. This represents the footprint of the city. The footprint of the city was then divided by the number of residents to determine each individual’s footprint.

The city does not have a target set for the Ecological Footprint, but a downward trend in the size of our Footprint is desirable.    


The City of Santa Monica is 8.3 square miles around, but our Ecological Footprint was 2,747 square miles in 2000. That is a dramatic difference of almost 2, 739 square miles. Santa Monica’s Footprint is shrinking. In 1990, the city’s Footprint was 2,914 square miles. In the ten years between 1990 and 2000, the city’s footprint shrank by 5.7 % or 167 square miles.    


The major results of Santa Monica’s Footprint assessment reveal that between 1990 and 2000 the city’s Footprint has:
  • Declined by 167 square miles;
  • Gone down ½ an acre for each per person living in Santa Monica;
  • Become nearly 4 acres smaller than the US average.


In 1990, the city’s per resident Footprint was 21.4 acres. In the ten years between 1990 and 2000, the city’s per resident Footprint shrank by ½ acre to 20.9 acres. This is almost three acres less than the American footprint, but it is still much larger than the 4.6 acres that has been established as a sustainable footprint.  Reductions in the use of natural gas and diesel, increased recycling rates, and the city’s procurement of geothermal energy explain much of the Footprint reductions over the decade.  But, increases in electricity and gasoline use and built space offset many of the gains made in the 1990s.  Although our Footprint has been reduced, the city’s Footprint still cannot be considered ecologically sustainable and is, on average, 16 acres above the Fair Earth share.






Continue our outreach efforts to communicate the degree to which human activity consumes our environment.


View source material in Excel:  RC6_EcoFootprint.xls
Email contact for data source inquires: 
Last updated: Monday, 05/17/2010
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Santa Monica Office of Sustainability and the Environment
1685 Main St., Santa Monica, CA 90401 · (310) 458-2213 · TTY (310) 917-6626