May 2010

May 2010

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Millions in Grants Available to Localities

The Obama Administration has launched a “Sustainable Communities” initiative that is providing resources to local governments through many different federal agencies and departments. Many grants have upcoming deadlines. A PDF, created by the Ferguson Group, contains more detailed information about all of these programs and can be found here. The EPA-DOT-HUD Sustainable Communities Partnership has produced a Federal Programs Guide. This is a resource for communities to identify available resources to promote livable and sustainable communities. Visit here for more information visit. Learn the basics below:

Public Transit Grant Opportunities

Improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions through these two grant programs of the Federal Transit Administration

  • Transit Investments for GHG & Energy Reduction (TIGGER) Round II: Pre-applications are due on July 16th.
  • Clean Fuels/Bus & Bus Facilities Program: Applicant pool is being expanded and may fund projects that meet the Clean Fuels Grant program objectives.

Jobs Creation Grants

This grant opportunity supports job-creation projects involving renewable energy, energy efficiency, green buildings, and reuse/recycling/restoration projects. This grant is funded through the Department of Commerce and the Economic Development Administration.

Sustainable Community Planning Grants

This grant opportunity is funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. It is open to regional metropolitan organizations or localities for sustainable community planning and implementation projects. Pre-register by May 15.

EPA Climate Showcase Community Grants

The EPA is seeking to create replicable models of sustainable community action, generate cost-effective and persistent GHG reductions, and improve conditions in the community. The expected deadline will be in spring/summer 2010.

EPA Brownfield Grants

This grant provides both money and technical assistance to localities who plan sustainable reuse in brownfields. Applications are due on June 1, 2010.

Local City News

Contra Costa Cities are Supporting California First!

Contra Costa Residents and Cities are getting excited about California First. See the attached matrix to see what stage each city is at and where you can help out. Also see our website for sample resolutions for your city to modify.

4CL is the Women’s Environmental Network’s Organization of the Month!

4CL was spotlighted this month in the Women’s Environmental Network newsletter. Read the article to learn a little more about 4CL and Generation Green’s other projects!

Richmond Seeks Input for Bicycle Pathways

Richmond has embarked on developing its first Bicycle Master Plan in 2010, a blueprint for the future of bicycling in the City. The Bicycle Plan will focus on a number of projects to build the bicycle network and encourage bicycling for recreational and commuter trips. The Master Plan Workshop was open to everyone and included a presentation of the planning process, a bicycle ride to key destinations in the City and a poster exhibition for the public to provide ideas, ask questions, and help develop the City’s first Bicycle Master Plan.

Other City News

500 E.U. Cities Pledged to Exceed Targets for Cutting Carbon Dioxide Emissions

The European Union aims to curb emissions to 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. The 500 towns and cities that signed onto the Covenant of Mayors are agreeing to attempt to outperform the E.U. goal through sharing expertise and low-carbon strategies. Almost half of the participating towns and cities are in Italy, with another 100 from Spain. The British oil industry hub Aberdeen and eight German town councils also signed onto the effort. The European Union’s executive arm, the European Commission, will funnel several hundred million euros of unused budget and money from the European Economic Recovery Plan into energy efficiency measures that would help the cities. Read more at here.

South African Climate Change Conference Receives Praise

During a recent meeting in South Africa, four major nations in the developing world made recommendations aimed at boosting talks on reducing carbon emissions. The emerging economies Brazil, South Africa, India and China are now responsible for about 30 percent of carbon emissions worldwide. Yet, as developing nations, they are in a good position to defend and bring the least wealthy nations back into the negotiations after they were largely sidelined in Copenhagen. Read the full article here.


Key Industry Groups Supported Climate Legislation in Mid-April

The comprehensive climate legislation being pushed by several Senators picked up steam mid-April. Several of the key industries, including electric utilities, announced support for the legislation. Read more here.

Oil Spill Complicates Climate Legislation

The loss of life and the looming ecological catastrophe from the oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico have piled political complications onto the push for energy and


EPA Posts Four New Fact Sheets on Climate Change Science and Impacts

Visit the EPA’s website to find two-page flyers on the issues of Climate Change Science Facts, Climate Change and Ecosystems, Climate Change and Health Effects, and Climate Change and Society. These documents are useful for local governments looking for public outreach materials on climate change. The EPA’s website also includes Climate Change Basic Information and a Climate Toolbox for your use.

Researchers Find Future Temperatures Could Exceed Livable Limits

For the first time, researchers have calculated the highest tolerable “wet-bulb” temperature. The wet-bulb temperature is equivalent to what is felt when wet skin is exposed to moving air, affected by both the temperature and atmospheric humidity. If greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated, this temperature level will rise and exceed any previous records during human history. If this temperature rises above 95 degrees Fahrenheit and is sustained for six hours or more, the levels could potentially become lethal. Learn more about the study here.

Changing Bird Migration Patterns and Physical Alterations Noted

Climate change is affecting bird behavior at a staggering rate. Approximately 70% of the world’s migrating birds have changed their flight plans. Climate Change is the biggest single identifiable reason behind such a massive behavioral shift. Apart from migration changes, fast-track evolution is also a method of coping with a fast-heating environment. Evidence of physical change is also apparent in birds; wingspan sizes are reducing and beak shape changes have already been recorded. Learn more here.


Google Invests $38.8M in Two North Dakota Wind Farms

Google Inc. is pouring $38.8 million into two North Dakota wind farms, marking its first direct investment in a large-scale renewable energy project. Previously, Google has invested in new technology startups; the wind farm investments are something of a shift in its strategy. The search giant announced that it had invested in two farms that are slated to collectively provide 170 megawatts of wind energy capacity. To learn more, read the full article here.

Upcoming events

Local Environmental Events: May/June

Cars in the City: With Traffic Engineer Jack Fleck

May 18, San Francisco

Cars are a big part of urban life. San Francisco City Traffic Engineer Jack Fleck will share lessons from a career in the transportation trenches—including the contentious Berkeley traffic diverters, the Embarcadero Freeway replacement project and Third Street Light Rail. We’ll also hear about some current issues—extending parking meter hours and the Transbay area plan. Also, hear about the electric car’s possible future. Learn more here.

The New Ruralism: Smart Growth and Local Food

May 20th, San Francisco.

The growing local food movement focuses on creating equitable healthy food systems. Creator of the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market, Sibella Kraus, will speak at this event on the vision of “new ruralism”, a system and place-based framework that links approaches of sustaining and containing metro regions. Visit the website for reservations.

Learn How to Facilitate Your Own Climate Change Action Group

May 26th, Berkeley

Receive the tools and training to start your own Climate Change Action Group with 5-10 friends, family members, coworkers, neighbors, classmates, or congregation members. Following the training, you will be equipped to lead your group members through a four-session action group. Members will: calculate their personal carbon footprints; create a measurable personal action plan to reduce their footprints; discuss ways to become a climate change leader in their households and communities. Learn more at here.

Greywater Roundtable: Lessons from a Greywater-Friendly State

May 27, Oakland

The Greywater Alliance invites you to a five-part series of discussions and presentations for the Bay Area greywater community. With the recent improvement to the state greywater code, they are facilitating local action by bringing people and ideas together in five targeted greywater roundtables, with building professionals, designers, city inspectors and planners, policy makers, water district staff, and greywater advocates. Learn more here.

Renewable Energy Development on Contaminated Land

June 3rd, Webinar

Learn more about this attractive development opportunity. This webinar highlights opportunities, challenges, and real life solutions to the unique challenges of developing renewable energy sources on contaminated land. For more information and registration follow this link.


Green Neighborhood Development

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) announced the launch of the LEED for Neighborhood Development green neighborhoods rating system. Learn more here.

NASA’s Gift to Earth: A Climate Change Supercomputer

A new NASA data-crunching tool aims to revolutionize global climate change research. NASA Earth Exchange, or NEX, uses a 128-screen supercomputer to combine satellite images, research data and modeling software. The program brings together global climate data from the past and present to create a central hub of information for scientists around the world. NASA hopes the innovative program will foster greater cooperation amongst the science community and create a more comprehensive picture of global climate change. Read more here.