February 2010

February 2010

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EPA and DOE Announce State Energy Efficiency Action Network

The State Energy Efficiency Action Network (SEE Action) will build upon the progress of the National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency (Action Plan) by addressing multi-state needs for advancing greater, sustainable investment in energy efficiency and assisting individual states in energy efficiency policies and programs. The network will assist participants in achieving all cost-effective energy efficiency by 2020. New SEE Action working groups will to address obstacles in the areas of residential efficiency programs, financing solutions, evaluation of program savings, and improving availability of energy usage information. The DOE will be offering funding opportunities to individual states that seek to create new results-based policies and programs that encourage energy efficiency. Attend the kick-off meeting March 2010. here

Local City News

Chicken Interest is on the Rise!

Eating local and sustainable living practices are on the rise! Why not let your citizens help reduce your city’s carbon footprint? Your constituents can eat fresh, organic eggs every day, fertilize their gardens, reduce garden pests without chemicals, and enjoy new pets! Many cities aren’t keeping up with the movement. here

Berkeley’s Farmers’ Markets Go Zero-Waste

Berkeley becomes the first city in the nation to ban both plastic bags and packaging at their famers’ markets! here.

Meanwhile The City of Richmond, votes to ban polystyrene foam takeout food packaging and allows only compostable alternatives.

Richmond joins a growing list of municipalities that have banned polystyrene


El Cerrito and Richmond Starting Curbside Composting

In an effort to reduce the amount of waste going into the landfill, Contra Costa Cities El Cerrito and Richmond will join other cities in offering curbside pick-up for the residents compostable food scraps. A state study revealed that food scraps made up 35% of the waste residents generate. They hope that educational materials will provide enough incentive to get participation from the residents, especially considering the low cost (hopefully less than a $1 increase). If residents can reduce their waste enough, they could actually save money by switching to a smaller size trash can, a savings of $5-$10. Learn moret here.

Other City News

Conservation Landscaping

To reduce pollution and improve the local environment, many cities are focused on implementing conservation landscaping into their landscape practices. In the Chesapeake Bay watershed, they use this type of landscaping to provide habitat for local and migratory animals, conserve native species, improve water quality, and more. To learn more about conservation landscaping and its benefits, download the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service publication: here Also, check out the Bay-Friendly Landscaping Program which provides free resources to public agencies for design, construction and maintenance of Bay-Friendly landscapes! here

City’s C&D Recycling Law will Reduce Landfill Contributions

Clean wood and metals from roofing projects on construction and demolition sites will bypass the landfill. The new C&D recycling law in Madison even requires that shingles from re-roofing jobs be recycled! Madison is a city of about 220,000 in a county of about 475,000 residents. Builders have said that the policy saved them money and made it easier for their companies to recycle. Read more here or see the policy here

Landmark 1979 California Water Atlas debuts online!

Thirty years ago, the State of California created this Atlas. Now, for the first time it’s available online. Still a classic, it contains everything you could ever want to know about California water issues and resources, as of 1979. here.


CA Statewide Green Building Standards Code

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced that the California Building Standards Commission (BSC) unanimously adopted the first-in-the-nation mandatory Green Building Standards Code (CALGREEN) requiring all new buildings in the state to be more energy efficient and environmentally responsible. Taking effect on January 1, 2011, these comprehensive regulations will achieve major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption and water use to create a greener California. The codes will require that every new building reduce water consumption by 20 percent, divert 50 percent of construction waste from landfills and install low pollutant-emitting materials. Learn more about CALGREEN here

FTA Won’t Fund BART Airport Connector. Instead $70 Million will to Go to Transit.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission. (MTC), which oversees transportation planning in the Bay Area, met on February 17th and had a contingency plan. They voted to reprogram the $70 million to the region’s transit agencies by pre-established funding formulas, rather than risk losing the money outright.

Become our fan at: here.

EPA Announces New Web Site to Help State and Local Government Partners Tackle Climate Change

To help state and local governments understand, plan, and implement strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions within their jurisdictions. The State and Local Climate and Energy Program Web site, here, brings together EPA resources to serve as a one-stop shop for government officials seeking information and resources related to climate change and clean energy.


Transportation and Climate Change

The U.S. Department of Transportation created the Transportation and Climate Change Clearinghouse website (here) that is designed as a one-stop source of information on transportation and climate change issues. It includes information on greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories, analytic methods and tools, GHG reduction strategies, potential impacts of climate change on transportation infrastructure, and approaches for integrating climate change considerations into transportation decision making. Learn about the connection between transportation and Climate Change here

Reports Available for Download

A report produced by USAID entitled Adapting to Climate Variability and Change is available for download. While the report was developed specifically for USAID projects, it describes a useful approach in considering climate change impacts on other projects. The report addresses the question of why climate change is important to projects and outlines six steps to adaptation: Screening for Vulnerability, Identification of Adaption Options, Conducting an Analysis, Selecting a Course of Action, Implementing Adaptations, and Evaluation of the Adaptations. It includes examples of criteria used for planning and evaluating options at various USAID projects, best practices for a participatory approach, and FAQs here

Bay Area Recovery Blueprint

For more than 100 years, the shores of the Bay were diked, filled, built on, converted to industrial salt ponds and used as sites for landfills and sewer outfalls before environmental laws were passed in the 1970s. On February 10th, the federal government released the latest plan to offset the damage and establish a healthier ecosystem for the plants and animals relying on the marsh areas. Whether the draft recovery plan is put into practice will depend on funding and popular will, because it has no teeth and no dedicated money. Learn more about the plan here.


SEC Approves Guidance for Companies To Disclose Climate Change-Related Risks

The Securities and Exchange Commission recommended giving public companies guidance on how the existing risk disclosure rules apply to disclosures of climate change-related risks. Investors should have the right to know which companies are well positioned for the future. With climate change disclosures, investors can make sound decisions based on better information. The disclosure will not only cover the obvious risks of litigation and regulation, but also will address damage and risk regarding company reputation. This disclosure procedure combined with the EPA regulations for big GHG emitters will force corporations to pay more attention to issues of climate change here.

How Much Would You Really Save?

We have all heard that unplugging your appliances and switching to CFL light bulbs will save energy use and therefore also save you money on your energy bills. Are you interested in some actual numbers for those savings? A local Contra Costa Times writer took on this task. See what she could save in her Concord home here.

Upcoming events Local Environmental Events: February/March

Smart Microgrids: Developing Sustainable Power Grids February 23rd, Santa Clara

Join Sustainable Silicon Valley and Santa Clara University for a panel discussion on smart microgrids. This is an opportunity to learn about these microgrids in the first stages of Santa Clara University’s smart microgrid campus project. Panelists will explore the requirements, technologies, standards, and current R&D. Exhibits will showcase solutions that can be adopted by campus environments, businesses, and residential homes today here.

The Heart of Safeway Corporate Social Responsibility February 25th, Pleasanton.

The East Bay Branch of the US Green Building Council presents a panel discussion on Safeway’s building remodeling in Pleasanton. The discussion will focus on how the team created an environment which reinforced Safeway’s Corporate Social Responsibility Program as well as the LEED requirements from the City of Pleasanton. In order to view the end product and hear how the design decisions were implemented, a tour of the facility will follow the discussion. Learn more and register here.

Produce to the People: New Ideas for Local Distribution March 2nd, San Francisco.

The Bay Area has an abundant local produce available at farmer’s markets and stores but not everyone has access to, or can afford, farm fresh produce. Learn about alternative models for local produce distribution through a panel discussion which will look into best practices and lessons learned from three Bay Area organizations which are getting local produce to more people, including those in undeserved and neglected communities. Learn more: here.

Green California Summit and Exposition March 15-17, Sacramento.

State and local governments in CA have long set the standard for public sector sustainability programs. The annual Green California Summit has become an essential resource to support their efforts to meet the challenges of managing energy and water resources, and to create clean and sustainable communities. Attend this event to stay up to date on the policy innovations, technologies, strategies and best practices that are keeping CA on the cutting edge of the green revolution here.


The Psychology of Climate Change Communication

This booklet from the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions (CRED) at Columbia University is available in its entirety online: here.

Energy Efficient Windows: The Next Generation

Energy Efficiency Done Right seeks more opportunities to increase building energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. One recent project is an In’Flector window which will reduce heat gain in the summer time and loss in the winter. A 4′ X 4′ In’Flector window insulator can produce as much heat as a 600 watt electrical heater per sunlight hour and reflect up to 72% of the room heat back into the room! During the summer, the product reduces air infiltration up to 71%, stops solar heat gain up to 65%, and blocks up to 90% of harmful UV rays. Learn more.

PG&E is a Helpful Resource for your Environmental Initiatives

PG&E offers the following support for your local energy and green building endeavors:

  • Develop cost-effectiveness calculations for local ordinances to regulating new construction, Time-of-Sale updates or major remodel requirements,
  • Provide guidance on State process and approval requirements as well as the Local Process.
  • Advantages and Disadvantages of Various Structures.
  • Education and Outreach Recommendations and Resources,
  • Compliance Education Resources.
  • Sample documents.
  • Please see attached document for more information on PG&E’s services.