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News in Brief


Photo by roach at Flickr




The Green Communities Initiative

The Great Valley Center, a nonprofit association that organizes programs on leadership for elected officials and rural leaders, has developed a new initiative, Green Communities. The program, funded by Pacific Gas & Electric and the California Public Utilities Commission, will train local government staff in the Central Valley to plan for climate change over the next three years. Cities and Counties will get assistance in developing a list of local greenhouse gas emissions sources and ways they can be reduced. Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI), will provide paid university interns who will help develop the inventory. The Global Warming Solutions Act, AB 32, mandates that cities reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and this year they must start to show how they will meet the targets set for 2020.




A Package of Clean Energy and Green Jobs Bills for California

As soon as the ink is dry on a budget for California, the governor could find a package of proposed new laws on his desk which aim to ensure the state’s environmental leadership. With seven of the nation’s top ten clean technology companies in California, and 60 percent of the venture capital, this is good news. Among the new bills is one mandating that utilities will get one-third of their power from alternative energy sources by 2020. Another measure would speed up permits for renewable energy projects, and another would use ratepayer funds to guarantee loans for residents and small business owners to make energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements. Grants to schools would be covered in a fourth bill, that would use $8 million annually in electricity surcharges to establish 90 “green partnership academies” throughout California to train students for clean technology jobs. The Governor’s office has said that the bills are consistent with his clean energy and jobs goals.




Sacramento School District Becomes a Green Schools Fellow

The U.S. Green Building Council’s Center for Green Schools has awarded the Sacramento City Unified School District one of its first green schools fellowships. A full-time sustainability officer, funded by the Center, will work with school district leadership to provide direction, training and resources aimed at greening the district’s buildings. The Fellow will be chosen after an application process and will be placed in the district for three years. He will help plan and oversee over $100 million in upgrades. Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said that under Sacramento’s Greenwise Regional Action Plan, “we have set a lofty goal of becoming the greenest region in the country – to be known as Emerald Valley – and a large part of this commitment is to green our schools…” One of the goals of the Action Plan will be to retrofit 15 million square feet of school facilities in the next 10 years to reduce energy and water usage by 20 percent. The Center for Green Schools Fellowship program is sponsored by United Technologies.


An example of new technologies being implemented in Los Angeles’ city building retrofit program is the Ciralight Global Smart Skylight, a solar powered light that will allow the City to shut off electric lights during the daytime and could account for electricity savings of as much as 50-80 percent.



Los Angeles City Buildings Being Retrofitted

The first building to be retrofitted by workers trained through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) initiative’s Green Retrofit Workforce Program was unveiled recently in Los Angeles. The Vineyard Recreation Center is one of 130 Los Angeles city buildings, including City Hall, that will be retrofitted under an initiative approved unanimously by the City Council in 2009. The Green Retrofit Workforce training program is a national plan for training workers from low-income communities with skills they need to obtain green jobs. It trains workers in energy efficiency, water conservation and other green technologies while educating them about the benefits of sustainable building and maintenance practices. First priorities for Los Angeles’ retrofit program will be libraries, community recreation and senior centers, as well as fire and police stations. Los Angeles also has the largest LED Street Light Retrofit Program in the world, and will replace 140,000 street lights in five years.




GoGreen Expo Outreach Partner for Green California Summit

Call it global warming, climate change, greenhouse gas effects or just plain wacky weather – no matter what you name it, explaining these concepts is challenging. Now the Yale Forum on Climate Change & the Media has searched internationally and collected an array of interactive graphics and links that provide some fascinating ways to visualize climate-related changes such as water depletion, rising seas, monumental flooding and worldwide CO2 emissions. “It’s never been easy to report on climate change or many other environmental topics, for that matter,” writes Deborah Potter for the Forum. “The issues are not only complicated, they’re often invisible.” She cites a five-part series in the Las Vegas Sun reporting on water use in the region, including online video and an interactive map showing locations using the most residential water searchable by address. The impact of recent floods in Pakistan is brought home by the BBC in its interactive graphic, “How Big Really?” By plugging in a zip code, the user can see how large the flooded area was overlaid on the place he lives. Plugging in a Chicago zip code, for example, shows the flood would have stretched from Canada to Arkansas.





Benchmarking Required in San Francisco

San Francisco has passed an energy audit mandate, the Existing Commercial Building Energy Performance Ordinance. The landmark green building legislation will require owners of existing non-residential buildings to determine how much energy each building consumes, and to make that information public on an annual basis. Part of the city code, it will also require commercial buildings over 10,000 square feet to conduct energy efficiency audits every five years. In signing the new ordinance, Mayor Edwin Lee said “San Francisco needs to increase the energy and resource efficiency of existing buildings if we are going to meet our aggressive greenhouse gas reduction targets. The annual Energy Benchmark Summary report for each building will be done using the ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager. The benchmarking dovetails with California’s new law AB 1103, which requires building owners to disclose their Energy Star Ratings at during sale, lease, or financing transactions.






GoGreen Expo Outreach Partner for Green California Summit

The largest Eco-event in the Los Angeles area is taking place at the L.A. Convention Center on January 22 – 24. It will feature over 300 exhibits, a 24-foot rock climbing wall and educational panels with leaders in the green industry, eco-celebrities, local politicians, and community activists including Ed Begley Jr., Mariel Hemingway, Paul Pelosi Jr., John Picard and Eric Corey Freed. A Green California Summit outreach partner, the GoGreen Expo is sponsored by CBS Television, the Los Angeles Business Journal, the Daily News, LA Weekly, Natural Health Magazine, Natural Home Magazine, Spirituality & Health Magazine, Mother Earth News, Kiwi Magazine, Green Lifestyles Magazine, Whole Life Times, The Sierra Club and over 25 other organizations. For information go to and save 50 percent off the ticket price with promo code GREENTECH.


Photo LASkyline courtesy rianklong on Flickr




Recovery Money for Los Angeles

Los Angeles has gotten $586 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding. The city has applied for $2.2 million to cover transit oriented projects, $48 million for energy efficiency in city buildings and $3.5 million for workforce training through the Department of Water and Power. The total amount of grants applied for by Los Angeles is $1.47 billion. So far, the $586 million awarded covers 82 of those grants. Click here for more information on Los Angeles ARRA grants.



Photo courtesy freefotouk on flickr




Carbon Trading for Education

The Campaign for Environmental Literacy is coordinating an effort in Congress to have one percent of funding generated by companies auctioning off carbon emission allowances under a new energy bill go to K-12 and post secondary education. It could amount to as much as $1 billion annually. The American Association of Community Colleges and scores of organizations endorse the initiative.



Photo courtesy International Youth Climate Coalition




Governor Says Package Will Create 100,000 Jobs

At Cobalt Biofuels in Silicon Valley, a green-tech company, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke about his proposal to stimulate the creation and retention of the 100,000 jobs he announced in his State of the State address recently. The Governor’s legislative package, the California Jobs Initiative, includes exempting the purchase of green-technology equipment from California sales tax. There are 10,209 green technology companies in California. Other parts of the jobs initiative include exemption from sales tax for advanced transportation, renewable energy and other green projects. The Governor is cosponsoring Assembly Bill 1111 with Treasurer Bill Lockyer to achieve his proposal.


Photo courtesy Waste Management, Inc.




Fueling Trash Trucks with Trash

Methane from California landfills is being captured and used to fuel garbage and recycling trucks. Almost 500 garbage trucks belonging to Waste Management, Inc. are running on landfill methane instead of diesel. The methane is being captured at the 240-acre Altamont landfill that serves San Francisco and Oakland. According to Waste Management, the program will take 30,000 tons of green house gases out of the environment each year. According to the Associated Press, the US Environmental Protection Agency counts 1,800 municipal landfills in the nation and 517 landfill energy projects – up almost 50 percent from 2000.






Three California Schools Voted Tops in Green Power

Purchasing nearly 113 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power each year, the top 20 schools using the most green energy have been honored by the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership. Three of the top schools and universities are in California – Kentfield School District Santa Clara University and the University of California, Santa Cruz . The Green Power Partnership works with over 1,100 organizations to buy green power. Together Green Power partners are buying more than 17 billion kWh of green power each year. This is equivalent to powering almost 1.7 million homes annually.

UC Santa Cruz Bike Path Photo courtesy Second Nature Boston



Photo of  Sacramento Delta  courtesy  DB's travels




Where’s the Best Water? Sacramento.

The City of Sacramento Department of Utilities has been recognized by the Environmental Working Group for having the best drinking water in California and the 18th best in the nation. The Working Group’s report looked at communities with populations over 250,000 for its rankings, which were matched by total number of toxic chemicals detected in their drinking water since 2004.




Photo courtesy  Icky Pic




Changes in Toxics Control

The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) announced changes that went into effect on January 1. Pipes and plumbing material carrying drinking and cooking water have to be lead-free. Lighting fixtures must not exceed European limits for toxic substances. A clean-up standard for methamphetamine labs will be established; lead wheel weights are now prohibited, and DTSC will develop information on nanomaterials along with manufacturers and importers. In addition, there is an extension on the statute of limitations on toxic spill reporting, the Land Reuse and Revitalization Act has been extended, and testing requirements for transporters of used oil have been modified. For more information on the changes, click here.




CAPPO Vendor Exhibition
Tuesday, January 19th, 2010
10:30 am - 4:30 pm

Riverside Convention Center
3443 Orange St, Riverside, CA 92501

The California Association of Public Purchasing Officers (CAPPO) invites all individuals involved with the procurement and/or procurement decision making process to attend the 2010 Vendor Exposition on Tuesday, January 19th from 10:30 to 4:30.
Registation is free.

The Vendor Exposition will be held at the Riverside Convention Center. There will be 150 vendors, the most ever at a CAPPO conference, showing off the latest materials and services for public purchasing professionals. The latest list of vendors is here (link to file).
The only requirement on your part is to send an e-mail to Bruce Brady and give him your information. In return, an Expo badge and a box lunch will be waiting for you at the Riverside Convention Center on Tuesday, January 19, 2010.

So, put together a carpool or vanpool and “Daytrip” to Riverside on January 19th!

Attendees must register by Friday, January 8th to guarantee the free lunch.

Send the following to

Your Name:
Your Title:
Your Agency:



University of California, San Diego,
Solar Grove™
Photo by Envision Solar


San Diego Goes for Stimulus in a Big Way

San Diego’s 2,262 solar roofs already make it the number-one solar region in California. If a current initiative moves forward, San Diego’s capacity for producing solar energy will more than double. Over the next three years, 160 new solar projects could well be put in place in 9 San Diego schools, water districts and municipalities under. Applications for Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs), part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA ), have been submitted to finance the projects by CleanTECH, a coalition of public and private groups that assist local governments in applying for the CREBs. Through CleanTECH, municipalities had access to pro bono legal, engineering and financial resources during the entire application process.


High performance relocatable classroom.
Photo by NRB Modular Building Specialists


New CHPS Criteria Released

The 2009 edition of the Collaborative for High Performance Schools’ Criteria for Relocatable Classrooms has been released. It provides tools for manufacturers and design teams to specify and  build high performance relocatable classrooms and for school districts to acquire them. The resource includes a design section and scorecard to assess and certify these buildings and to modernize existing relocatable classrooms. “With the release of these new Criteria, CHPS hopes to provide opportunities for school districts that must deal with the realities of rapid growth or aging relocatable classroom fleets,” said Bill Orr, CHPS executive director. “This is another step towards providing high performance learning environments for all America’s schoolchildren.”


Map courtesy Environmental Defense Fund


Green Companies Abound in California

Over 2,200 companies are plotted on the new California Green Economy Map released by the Environmental Defense Fund. Mapping the Green Economy: California shows the location of green businesses in California sorted by the categories of energy generation, energy efficiency, green building and low carbon transportation. This is the first map of its kind, says the EDF. It can be sorted by city, county and congressional district. The map is a work in progress and does not include those green businesses that don’t fall under the four categories. The listing below the map clicks to information about each company – its web address, location and a basic description.


Gardena Municipal Bus
Lines new
gas-electric hybrid bus.
Photo courtesy LA Wad at Flickr


California Transportation Projects on the Move

The U.S. Department of Transportation has obligated more than $70 million in additional funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to help pay for 12 transit and aviation projects in California. California leads the nation with over $1.5 billion in ARRA funding designated for transportation. Among the projects that will be funded is almost $26 million to the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District for preventative maintenance to its transit fleet, $3.5 million to the City of Gardena for the purchase of six replacement buses with hybrid gasoline-electric engines and $16.5 million to Long Beach to rehabilitate buses, upgrade its bus maintenance facility and other projects. California is expected to receive nearly $2.6 billion in ARRA funding for highways and local streets and $1 billion for transit projects.



Food scrap compost heap.
Photo courtesy


Mandatory Food Scrap Composting in San Francisco

Even in San Francisco, which recycles 72 percent of its 2.1 million tons of waste each year, residents will still have  to take an additional step with mandatory food scrap recycling. A new law gives the city authority to fine residents and small businesses $100 if they refuse to compost food scraps. Big companies and apartment owners could receive fines of up to $1,000. Food scraps are being used to cultivate vineyards – some 400 tons of food scraps a day is being picked up by one composting firm.


Academy of Sciences in San Francisco
Photo courtesy Bryan Kelley at Flickr


Green Building Code Takes Effect

It’s the first statewide green building code in the nation, and the California Building Standards Commission announced that it is taking effect this month. Adopted in 2008 as a voluntary program that will lead to mandatory green building standards by 2010, the code standardizes practices for cutting water and electricity consumption and other aspects of construction.


Green Cleaning Lowers Absenteeism

Absenteeism at the Elk Grove school district dropped the first year it switched from toxic chemical-based cleaning products to more environmentally friendly ones, and it has stayed down since.  The district has been using healthier cleaners for almost 10 years. Elk Grove, a district with 73 educational sites, was using as many as 15 separate chemical products for cleaning when Linda Lopez, manager of Custodial Services, heard about a new hydrogen peroxide cleaner that was not only safe but could be used on many different surfaces, from carpets to windows and tabletops.

Elk Grove will be ahead of the curve if AB 821, the Clean and healthy Schools Act, is enacted to law. It would require all K-12 schools with over 50 students to switch to green cleaning products as long as there was no additional costs to the district. Sponsored by Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, the bill is currently on hold in the Assembly Appropriations Committee awaiting state budget adjustments.

In a new report, Breathing Easier: School Districts Make the Switch to Certified Green Cleaning Products, the Regional Asthma Management and Prevention (RAMP) organization profiles three California school districts, including Elk Grove, that have switched to green cleaning products. The need for less toxic cleaning alternatives is dramatic, says the report, with one out of six California students experiencing symptoms related to asthma. The California Air Resources Board, in a report on portable classrooms, found significant environmental problems, includ­ing problems with ventilation, temperature and humidity, air pollutants, floor dust contaminants, moisture, mold, noise and lighting in California’s classrooms.

The other districts profiled in the RAMP report are the Fairfield-Suisan Unified School District and the Fresno Unified School District, where more than 16 percent of the children living in the county have asthma, one of the highest rates in California. 

At the beginning of the 2008-09 school year, Fresno Unified began testing green cleaning products at four district schools—Chavez Adult School, Terronez Middle School, McCardle Elementary, and Computech Middle School. Three types of green clean­ing products were tested: a window cleaner, an all-purpose cleaner and a degreaser. In performance tests comparing them to their chemical counterparts, the green products worked just as well. “It surprised me,” said Dennis Pendergrass, head custodian at McCardle elementary School, one of the testing sites. 

These products did what they said they would do. They generated a nice clean on the unit where we tested. They did an outstanding job.”



Big Savings in Energy for Los Altos

By installing inexpensive energy-saving technology, the Los Altos School District was able to reduce its energy costs by half. According to Randy Kenyon, the district’s superintendent for business services, 7 of the 9 district schools were renovated for energy efficiency. Those 7 are paying about $40,000 each for energy per year. The schools that were not renovated are paying about $80,000. 

Cost savings is due in large part to bringing natural daylight into classrooms, installing automatic light dimmers, which lower the lights as there is more daylight available.



PGESolarSchools Photo courtesy PG&E

A Very Bright Idea

More than 125 schools have participated so far in a program that offers grants of up to $10,000 to public schools for projects that support the understanding of renewable energy. The mega-utility, Pacific Gas and Electric has just committed $250,000 for grants under its Bright Ideas program to 23 schools within its Northern California service area.  Bright ideas is part of PG&E’s Solar Schools program.

The grants are awarded to teachers, professors, instructors, principals, deans, department heads, district administrators and facilities managers in the categories of: Educational Solar Projects, Youth Energy and Environmental Programs,  Renewable Energy or Science Related Field Trips,  Green Your School Projects and Professional Development/Service Learning Projects/Workforce Development Programs.

Since its inception in 2004, PG&E has contributed over $8 million to its Solar Schools program, with more than 125 schools participating. The program includes installation of photovoltaic systems, a curriculum training package, workshops for teachers and the Bright Ideas grants. So far the program has trained more than 3,000 teachers. 

Up to 40 schools a year receive donations of a new 1 kilowatt photovoltaic system that could save the school hundreds of dollars in energy costs each year. The package includes an online monitoring tool that provides real-time data on the system's activity and allows students to compare their solar panel's output with that of other solar schools across the state.





U.S. EPA to Fund DTSC Brownfield Cleanup

The California Department of Toxic Substances Control and the U.S. EPA have announced the release of about $9 million in “brownfields” restoration funding for California.  Over $3 million will come from stimulus funding. Says DTSC Acting Director Maziar Movassaghi: “About 20 different cities and communities will benefit from these funds which can be used to create or safeguard green jobs.” Projects include things like revitalizing the Lion Creek Crossing Housing Development in Oakland. DTSC has pursued an active policy of having contaminated land cleaned up and returned to beneficial use by local communities. Click here to see a list of all the California projects that received funding.

Agnews Townhomes (top photo)
Under the environmental cleanup oversight of the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, development company Rivermark took the surplus state property of the former "California Hospital for the Chronic Insane" and turned it into Santa Clara's first new community of 3,000 residential units, a  pedestrian center, 14-acre park, pocket parks, trails and greenbelts, and a 14-acre shopping center. Photo by Carol Northrup, courtesy DTSC.

Barbary Coast Steel (bottom photo)
The City of Emeryville worked under the environmental cleanup oversight of the California Department of Toxic Substances Control to turn the unsightly and barren Barbary Coast Steel site into a new commercial hub featuring the area's first IKEA store. Photo courtesy DTSC.




Photo courtesy Franciscophile


California No. 1 in Agriculture
Every five years the U.S. Department of Agriculture releases data on the nation's agriculture. The most recent release covers data up until 2007. California ranks number one in the nation for total value of agricultural products sold. Over 81,000, a 2 percent increase over 2002, farmed over 25 million acres, an 8 percent decrease over 2002. Market value of production, almost $34 billion, was up 32 percent. Organic farms in California utilize almost 598,000 acres, a tiny percentage of total farmland, but according to the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF), which certifies about 80 percent of California's organic farms, there was an 11 percent growth in the number of organic operations from 2007 to 2008, and an increase of 14.3 percent total acreage used for commercial organic farming.


sjPhoto courtesy River Partners


California Wilderness Protected
More than 700,000 acres of California wilderness will be protected under the federal Omnibus Public Land Management Act signed by President Barack Obama. The bill also provides additional funding to supplement the San Joaquin River Restoration Act.


governorPhoto courtesy Governor's Office


California's New Inspector General & Recovery Website
Laura Chic, Los Angeles City Controller, has been chosen for a new post created by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of Inspector General. The position was created to ensure that federal economic stimulus funds are utilized with transparency and accountability, says the Governor's office. As LA City Controller, Chic has been known as an active watchdog over city funds. Among many high profile actions, she created the city's Waste and Fraud Unit with a 24-hour whistleblower hotline and exposed a major backlog of untested rape-kits and contracting improprieties at the city airport and harbor.

For information on economic stimulus funding, the Governor has launched, which his office says ensures " complete and full transparency of federal economic stimulus funding as it is received and expended by the state. The Web site provides Californians with new tools to monitor ongoing American Recovery and Reinvestment Act activity and provide up-to-date information about how and when their federal tax dollars are spent."



Photo courtesy Unified Port of San Diego


More Green for Green Port
Employees at the Port of San Diego have been growing organic vegetables as part of their Green Port Program. Now the Port is also producing some 300 pounds of compost each month to nourish its landscape and gardens. The port uses coffee grounds, eggshells, melon rinds and other leftovers from a local restaurant, Café Café Ole, to make its compost. The program has diverted nearly 1,000 pounds of food waste from landfills so far. Leaves and grass clippings are also added to the mix.


Governor Schwarzenegger signs the new state budget that promises to solve California's $42 billion deficit and immediately released 276 infrastructure projects that had been halted.Photo by Joe McHugh, Office of the Governor.


California Budget Stops the Stop Order
The budget passed by the California Legislature and signed by Governor Schwarzenegger will allow 276 bond-funded infrastructure projects that had been halted by a Stop Order to continue. These are projects that had been exempted from a shutdown that stopped more than 5,300 projects around the state. Without a budget, the state has been unable to sell bonds to finance the projects. According to a  projects, according to Michael C. Genest, director of the Department of Finance, in a budget letter, there is still much work to do to sort out the solutions contained in the budget so the State Treasurer's Office can proceed with bond sales. "Now that we have a budget agreement in place and signed into law," says DOF deputy director H.D. Palmer, we can begin the process of getting these projects back online. It won't be immediate, but now that the $41.6 billion budget gap is closed we can move forward to get to a normal course of business."

The projects that were halted range from an elementary school in Humboldt to a traffic detection system in Marin and a rehab facility in Riverside.  In all, the 276 projects are worth about $3.8 billion. According to the DOF, it will take some time for the rest of the more than 5,200 projects and grants that have also been stopped to restart and for new projects to come online.



California's Hilda Solis Named US Secretary of Labor
By a bi-partisan vote of 80-17, and after the longest delay in any of President Barack Obama's cabinet picks, Hilda Solis was confirmed as U.S. Secretary of Labor on February 24. Known as having spent more time on picket lines on behalf of labor than anyone in Congress, Secretary Solis has represented California's 32nd district since 2001.  She has resigned from her congressional seat, but her offices will continue under the Clerk of the House of Representatives, Lorraine C. Miller,  without voting representation, until her seat is filled.   In 2007, the U.S. House of Representative approved the landmark Green Jobs Act, introduced by then Congresswoman Solis, to help train American workers for jobs in the renewable energy and energy-efficiency industries.  The bill was passed as part of H.R. 3221, the New Direction for Energy Independence, National Security, and Consumer Protection Act.  (Click here) for an interview she did with Green Technology magazine shortly before its passage.


Photo courtesy Dervaes Institute


From Frying Pan to Fuel Tank:
San Francisco's New Brown Grease Biodiesel Project

An Innovative state and federal grant-funded biofuels project, San Francisco's first "brown grease-to-biodiesel plant" is expected to serve as a model for other cities. The program will turn cooking oil into biofuels, making use of the "brown grease," a mix of used oils and food scrapings that is now discarded in food preparation and cleaning.  In the new program, brown grease will be captured by a grease trap and collected from restaurants and residents by the city to create alternative energy. The biodiesel plant will be the first of its kind to use the brown grease to create biodiesel for vehicles, boiler fuel for running the sewage treatment plant equipment and converted methane to run the treatment plant. The $1.2 million project is a public-private project involving the California Energy Commission, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Biodiesel Board, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, BlackGold Biofuels.



Green Recovery Report
It could mean a stimulus times two if the new recovery package contains a well-tailored green component, says a new policy brief  by Peterson Institute for International Economics and the World Resources Institute, A Green Global Recovery? Assessing US Economic Stimulus and the Prospects for International Coordination by Trevor Houser, Shashank Mohan and Robert Heilmayr. The report argues that green components in the recovery package would "stimulate the economy while achieving significant energy-cost savings for businesses, consumers and the government… every billion dollars invested in our green recovery scenarios create 30,100 jobs and save the economy $450 million per year in energy costs."


Photo courtesy romleys


Cities to Volunteer Emissions Data
Pacific Grove and Rohnert Park are two California cities among 30 urban centers nationally that will take part in a voluntary report on their greenhouse gas emissions and other climate change data.  The project is being done in a partnership between ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability and the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), which is a private organization representing 385 institutional investors worldwide. It collects climate change data from more than 3,000 major corporations globally and has assembled the largest corporate greenhouse gas emissions database in the world. The responses from US cities will be published in the first CDP Cities Report and the ICLEI Local Action Network Report in January 2009.


Development at Lake Mission Viejo, California


Developers Must Consider Climate Change
Developers in California cannot ignore climate change when planning building projects. Under a 1970s environmental law, a California court upheld California's right to pursue greenhouse gas emissions cuts. The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) was invoked by a Riverside Superior Court judge to reject a golf course and luxury resort project  citing that its environmental study failed to analyze climate change effects.  This ruling is the latest development in an effort by environmentalists and  California Attorney General Jerry Brown to connect land-use planning with emissions cuts.


Mission Bay brownfield site near San Francisco. Photo courtesy CalEPA


Greening Brownfields
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has provided $500,000 to 16 projects nationwide for technical assistance in greening brownfields.  In California projects include redeveloping a former lumber mill in Humboldt County to a green mixed-use commercial, residential and recreational development. Humboldt says the $50,000 in EPA assistance will help it  incorporate LEED Neighborhood Development principles in the project. 



Universities On Track with Bike Shares
At UC Berkeley students can pay a $15 membership fee per semester and check out a bike for 24 hours at a time during weekdays. Along with the bike comes a lock, a light, a map, safety tools and directions on use. The university's Green Bike Share Project is among 61 free and low-cost bike rental programs at US colleges and universities listed by Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). Berkeley's program won first prize for a project to improve student life in the Big Ideas @ Berkeley competition.


Photo courtesy Arup/Cody Andresen


De Anza Goes for Platinum
The Kirsch Center for Environmental Studies at De Anza Community College has earned a coveted LEED Platinum rating from the U.S. Green Building Council.  The Kirsch Center the first community college building in the U.S. to receive the elite rating.  Many of the green technologies used in the building are exposed for teaching students about the building. The center includes classrooms, a resource center, offices and open study areas.  "It's a building that teaches," Pat Cornely, executive director for the Kirsch Center told the Cupertino Courier. "If you walk through this building, I don't need to teach you; the building does."


Moscone Center Solar Installation. Photo courtesy SF Public Utilities Commission


A Green Light for San Francisco's Solar Rebates
San Francisco will now have the highest local solar subsidy in the nation. Households can apply for up to a $6,000 rebate, and businesses for $10,000. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said he expects the city to become the "Berlin of Solar Power." Germany is the world's leader in installed solar. San Francisco expects to up its current 770 solar installations to 10,000, producing 50 megawatts of power over the next ten years. Newsom claims that between state and national rebates, a $20,000 solar installation can now be reduced to $4,000 out of pocket.




So Long, Plastic Bags
The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to support the LA City Bureau of Sanitation's recommendation to adopt a policy that forbids the use of plastic carryout bags by 2010. The ban would apply to all supermarkets and retail establishments, unless the state imposes a 25-cent fee per bag. A ban on Styrofoam© packaging used at city events and facilities was also endorsed. Styrofoam and plastic bags not only threaten marine life, they clog landfills and waste energy. Only about five percent of plastic bags are recycled, and it costs taxpayers in California over $25 million a year to dispose of the 19 billion plastic shopping bags used each year.

Plastic bags littering downtown 29 Palms. Photo courtesy N.Panter


Teamsters rallying for green jobs and clean air in Oakland. Photo courtesy International Brotherhood of Teamsters.


Teamsters Go for Green
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters has announced it is leaving the ANWR coalition and would no longer support oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Teamsters general president Jim Hoffa made the announcement at an Oakland summit on good jobs and clean air saying, "We must find a long-term approach that breaks our dependence on foreign oil by investing in the development of alternate energy sources like solar, wind and geothermal power."  Hoffa also said that by investing in green energy solutions, the nation will reap the benefits of curbing its dependence on oil through a revitalized economy with the creation of millions of new jobs in a rapidly growing industry.



Building Gateways to the Green Economy
From October 8-9, the Pasadena Convention Center will be the site of the Green California Community Colleges Summit, an event that will focus on the full range of strategies and technologies that can be brought to the challenges of creating sustainable campuses as well as the effort to train "green collar" workers who help to build a vibrant new industry in California.

Get more



Worldwide Outlook on Cleantech
A new report on the Cleantech  market, Cleantech: Current Status and Worldwide Outlook, says that this sector, whose current global market is about $284 billion a year and expected to grow to over $1.3 trillion by 2017, is the third largest venture capital investment category, behind biotech and software. More than one-third is now attributable to renewable energy sources. The report also targets other cleantech segments and technology areas, such as agriculture, materials, recycling and manufacturing. For information contact


Ninety percent of the occupied spaces in the newly LEED certified FTB buildings receive natural daylight and have outdoor views helping to reduce energy use needed for indoor lighting.  The buildings also "utilize sunshades, screens and double-pane window glazing to reduce heating and cooling needs. Photo courtesy Department of General Services


LEED Plaques for Three New Green FTB Buildings
A US Green Building Council plaque has been affixed to three new Franchise Tax Board buildings, meaning they have been awarded a LEED Silver green building certification for their energy efficient, environmentally friendly design and construction. The plaques were unveiled during the FTB's annual "Green Fair." The one million square-foot expansion project includes the California Building, which serves as the campus' town center, along with the four-story Sacramento Building and the three-story San Francisco Building that connect two existing buildings at the southern end of the site. The expansion project also includes a warehouse and a central plant. "These Franchise Tax Board buildings are shining examples of how the state of California is designing, constructing and maintaining its buildings in order to minimize their environmental footprints, cut operating costs, and provide healthier places to conduct state business," said DGS Director Will Bush. To date, 13 state buildings are LEED certified To see California's Green Building Directory, please visit



Governor as Obama's "Energy Czar"?
Saying he's "through with acting" and would like to be "traveling around the world…promoting the energy (independence), renewable, solar, windmills and all those kinds of things, protecting the environment, protecting our oceans," Governer Schwarzenegger said in an interview with ABC News that he could see a possible future as "energy and environment czar" for Barack Obama, should the senator be elected president. Although the Governor endorses John McCain as the presidential nominee, he did not rule out working for Obama.



Who's the Greenest of them All?
Researchers at UCLA, using criteria such as whether residents own hybrid vehicles and the number of LEED building certifications, determined that the two greenest cities in California are Berkeley and Albany.  The study, "
Green Market Economy," authored by Matthew Kahn and Ryan Vaughn, looked at 349 California cities and found that 5.2 percent of registered vehicles in Berkeley are hybrids, while 2.48 percent in Albany are hybrids. El Cerrito came in third at 2.3 percent hybrids. The state average is only .76 percent.  Berkeley's Mayor Tom Bates added that his city also boasts a high concentration of homes going solar and more than 100 "green-certified" businesses. UCLA Professor Matthew Kahn, co-author of the study told the Contra Costa Times, "My students have a lot of interest in ‘green' products – solar panels, LEED buildings, fuel-efficient cars – and who actually buys these things."

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates grees Al Gore in front of a  CalCars Prius Hybrid plug-in electric vehicle.
Photo courtesy



New CARB Scoping Plan
Hundreds of Californians turned out for the first public meeting on the recently released draft scoping plan put out by the California Air Resources Board. This was CARB's first public input workshop on AB 32, the Climate Protection Act, which calls for dropping global warming pollution to 1990 levels in the next 12 years.


Photo courtesy


Young Eco-Warriors Recognized
In its annual worldwide quest for young people taking a lead in environmental issues, Action for Nature (AFN) this year recognized 11 "young eco-warriors for remarkable global conservation achievements."  Two California teenagers who are working to solve environmental problems. Thirteen year-old Alec Loorz of Ventura decided to do something about his friends who were denying the existence of global warming. He developed a website and presentation and began speaking at schools and then organized local young people into 20 Kids vs. Global Warming action teams.  Sixteen year-old Andrew Leonard of Redwood City, who makes annual visits to family in China, realized how bad the pollution is there applied for and received a grant from the Disney corporation to establish the Global Partners: China-USA project, a joint ecological partnership between schools in Beijing and America.



Governor and Senator Release Water Plan
With a goal of breaking a long-standing stalemate over water, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger have proposed a $9.3 billion bond measure to the Legislature. The Safe, Clean, Reliable, Drinking Water Supply Act of 2008 would update California's water system by increasing storage, improving conveyance, protecting the Delta's ecosystem and promoting greater water conservation. After two years of drought and the driest spring in recorded history, water reserves are extremely low. The Delta ecosystem is near collapse. In June, the Governor issued an executive order declaring a statewide drought.

Sacramento Delta's ecosystem near collapse would be helped by watershed protection provision in the new bond measure. Photo courtesy California Department of Water Resources



Sun Power for Blythe Prison
A 13-acre solar panel field will provide energy to Ironwood State Prison in Blythe, expected to save the state $50,000 a year in energy costs and generate 2.4 million kilowatt-hours during its first year of production.  The system, according to Harry Franey, California Department of Corrections chief of energy management and sustainability, is the largest and most advanced solar energy project at DCS.  Built and funded by SunEdison, it will serve as a model for 10 other prison projects.

 Photo courtesy California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation



Affordable Housing to get $50 Million Boost
The California Housing Finance Agency is providing a $50 million financing boost to green and transit-oriented apartments being built or planned in San Jose, Salinas and Santa Cruz.

Photo courtesy CaHFA




Green Collar Job Boom Potential
A report from the American Solar Energy Society, Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency: Economic Drivers for the 21st Century, asserts that by 2030 one out of every four U.S. workers will have jobs in renewable energy or energy efficiency. The report holds that 8.5 million U.S. jobs are already generated by these industries. The 40 million jobs that could be created in these two sectors are not just engineering-related, but also include those in manufacturing, construction, accounting and management.

Photo courtesy New Republic


Tango Electric Urban Car,
made in USA


CARB Rules Could Roll Back Clean Cars
A complex system of incentives created in 1990 for automakers to quickly introduce alternative power vehicles helped spawn innovation and new technology. But it could actually let car makers deliver less than the required amount of cleaner-running vehicles in California. The special credits operated by the state Air Resources Board allow car manufacturers to make less  than the state-mandated number of efficient cars. The state is requiring manufacturers to produce more than 800,000 zero, or near-zero, emission vehicles by 2011 and an additional 1.26 million by 2015. But with manufacturers sitting on CARB authorized credits, this number could be a lot smaller. Recently, the Air Resources Board created changes to phase-in restrictions on the use of credits. All this may be a moot point, as demand for ultra-clean cars will put its own pressure on auto manufacturers to produce them.



California Getting Behind Clean Chemicals
The California Department of Toxic Substances Control will begin to lay out a framework for the development and use of "green" chemicals. A report to be produced by the agency will list 818 ideas for encouraging innovation in finding nontoxic substitutes for many chemicals in use by industry. About 80,000 compounds are used commercially in the U.S. Many accumulate in the human body. They spread throughout the environment, using water, air and food to migrate. Their effects are largely unknown. It is estimated in a report presented to state legislators by UC Berkeley researcher Michael P. Wilson, PhD, Green Chemistry: Cornerstone to a Sustainable California, that exposure to toxic industrial chemicals costs Californians $2.6 billion a year in lost wages and medical expenses. The recommendations will be sent to the Governor in July.



First Certified Green Library in U.S.
The U.S. Green Building Council gave a LEED Bronze certification to San Jose's West Valley Branch Library, making it the first library in the world to attain the distinction. The library, which opened in May, was designed to use 30 percent less energy and 50 percent less irrigation water than standard buildings. Among other green features is the preservation of mature redwood trees, drought tolerant landscape and the use of recycled products in construction. Twenty percent of the building materials were manufactured locally.

Photo courtesy City of San Jose



O.C. Water Purification System Wins Award
Orange County in Southern California will be awarded a prestigious Stockholm Industry Water Award during the 2008 World Water Week in Stockholm. The award honors the world's largest water purification plant for groundwater recharge. The system diverts highly treated sewer water, which is currently discharged into the ocean, and purifies it through a series of advanced techniques. The cleaned water is returned to the groundwater basin to increase water supply and quality. Other dry regions, such as Singapore, are already emulating O.C.'s large-scale wastewater purification system.

Image: O.C. Water Purification manifold system. Photo courtesy American Association of Environmental Engineers



The Economics of Ecosystem Preservation
A new report assesses the potential cost of mass extinctions and deteriorating ecosystems. The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity was released at the Convention on Biological Diversity in Bonn, Germany in May. In it the report's authors propose that world markets don't properly value natural resources that are crucial to human life. By 2050, according to the report, up to 11 percent of the ecosystems that still remained after 2000 would be lost, primarily due to agriculture and development, as well as climate change. A sobering fact from the report is that forests, often called the "lungs of the planet," have completely disappeared from 25 countries, and another 29 have lost more than 90 percent of their forest cover.



USGBC Re-launches Web Portal
If you weren't able to attend USGBC's annual Greenbuild Conference & Expo, you can now access many of its presentations at the newly re-launched Greenbuild365 website ( Some highlights of the website include a catalog of third-party-reviewed green building courses, both core LEED offerings and others that extend  beyond the LEED certification program; and Green Bytes - short videos, podcasts and articles on education case studies, best practices and green building information.


Aerial view of the Los Angeles aqueduct crossing ephemeral wash. Photo: Robert Webb, USGS.


Squeezing the Last Drops in LA
Under a controversial $2 billion, proposed multiyear plan to curb water usage in Los Angeles, the city may finally move closer to water recycling and other water conservation programs already in effect in other Southern California communities.  The plan, a response to shrinking water resources, would have wide ranging effects on water consumers. Restrictions on lawn watering and car washing, financial incentives and building code changes to encourage high-tech conservation equipment in homes and businesses, money invested in programs to capture rainwater, reclaiming and cleaning wastewater and other water saving technologies would be implemented.



New Rewards for Green Manufacturers
Manufacturing companies that lower their carbon footprint and reduce water and energy use can now qualify for insurance premium reward incentives through Fireman's Fund Insurance Company. A leader in "green insurance," Fireman's Fund says environmentally friendly practices can translate into increases in profits.  Sustainable practices lead to higher employee productivity, reduced absenteeism, improved product safety and lower energy bills – and these companies are better risks to insure.


Shanghai smog. Photo: stelzer


California to Help China Cut Emissions
In a United Nations agreement, California will share ideas and research on curbing greenhouse gas emissions with China. California's top environmental official, Cal EPA Secretary Linda Adams, signed the agreement saying, "I think it will help show them they can indeed reach set targets and move forward on environmental protection and maintain a strong economy as California has." This follows the 2005 environmental agreement signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger with the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau to help improve air and water quality there.



Green Building Codes Almost Complete
The only green building rating system that will be accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the National Green Building Standard has been submitted to ANSI for approval and will become the benchmark for green homes, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). The standard defines what green practices should be incorporated into home construction on a national scale and how homeowners should maintain and operate their green homes. The rating system ensures uniformity in everything from the size of electrical outlets to testing medical devices. To get to this point, NAHB volunteers and the International Code Council attended four public hearings and considered  3,000 public comments submitted for consideration.



Butte College to Host Sustainability Conference
From June 4-6, Butte College – a national leader in sustainability in community colleges – will host THIS WAY TO SUSTAINABILITY, a conference on the built environment. Topics in the program, which includes pre-conference sessions on June 4, will include energy, design, financial strategies, green building and tours to local sustainable businesses, including the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. Details are available online. Click here for details.

Butte College was founded in 1967 and is situated on a 928 acre wildlife refuge nestled within the Sierra Nevada foothills of Northern California. Its Board of Trustees, administration, faculty, staff, and students are working honor the College's legacy of existing in balance with nature by committing themselves to Sustainability Education and to partnering with students, community, and the living biosphere to envision and create a healthy and prosperous world for present and future generations.




Greening the Range
Livestock foraging has caused a host of environmental problems, from land erosion to air pollution. Now a new generation of environmentally-oriented ranchers is working to find more sustainable grazing methods. Seventy-five ranching organizations in California joined with environmental groups and federal and state agencies in signing onto a strategy to enhance the state's rangelands while protecting its ecosystems.  A number of organizations are working on the problem, including the World Wildlife Fund, the Audobon Society, The USDA's Grasslands Reserve Program, the California Cattlemen's Association and The Nature Conservancy



EcoMoms for Healthy Schools

First there were soccer moms. Now there are EcoMoms, a new term describing a potent environmental force putting its muscle behind the green schools movement. The EcoMom Alliance is a network of mothers interested in all aspects of environmentalism as it relates to their children.



Should Global Warming be Taught in Schools?
If State Senator Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, has his way, climate change will be a science topic taught in California's public schools. A bill he introduced that is making its way through the state legislature is generating a fair share of controversy, as a vocal group of opponents say the science on global warming isn't clear. Proponents, though, say that introducing what is and isn't known about the subject is crucial.  Simitian's law would mandate that global warming be covered in all California high school science textbooks.



Los Angeles on the Green Edge
Los Angeles is firmly on the leading edge of climate change initiatives with a new mandate passed by two City Council committees which will require major commercial and residential developments to meet a "standard of sustainability." Under the proposed ordinance, privately built projects over 50,000 square feet will be required to cut their energy and water use and reduce their overall environmental footprint by incorporating low-emission paints, recycled materials, solar energy production and other aspects of green building. Los Angeles will be the largest city in the US to mandate green building in the public and private sectors.



Bay Area Detention Facility Going Solar
Solano County Detention Facility in the San Francisco Bay Area will be saving over $1 million in energy costs over the next 20 years thanks to a new 746-kilowatt solar array being installed near its Claybank Adult Detention Facility. Under an arrangement with Honeywell, electricity produced by the panels will be sold to the county for use in the detention facility. In addition to reducing costs, the new array will deliver substantial environmental benefits, cutting carbon dioxide emissions by more than 14,500 metric tons over the course of the contract. With this solar installation, the county will bring its power generation capacity to more than one megawatt through renewable energy technology. After the 20-year agreement expires, the county can continue purchasing electricity from Honeywell or acquire ownership of the panels.



Renewable Energy Gets $10 Billion Pledge from Investors: CalPERS Leads the Charge
At a recent United Nations investor summit on climate risk, the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS), which is the largest pension fund in the nation, joined state treasurers, comptrollers and other players from 11 states in pledging to invest $10 billion in green technology over the next two years. The group was urged by Mindy Lubbar, president of Ceres and director of the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR) to pressure companies to disclose their risks associated with climate change, such as greenhouse gas emissions.

In a related move, CalPERS was congratulated by the Nature Conservancy for taking leadership in sustainable forestry. CalPERS voted to adopt a far-reaching forest investment policy that requires certified sustainable forest management, directing $10-15 billion towards environmentally friendly forest projects. The move positions the retirement fund to profit from the global market in forest carbon credits.



Green Brings More Green in Real Estate
A new report by the Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate at the University of San Diego shows that not only are more developers building environmentally friendly buildings, but that tenants are willing to pay more to rent them. The study, titled simply Does Green Pay Off?, reports that customers are willing to pay an average of $2.45 per square foot extra for renting, or an average of $15 per square foot extra for buying a LEED certified green office building. The study also found that lower energy bills offset the higher rentals and purchase prices. According to the report, Los Angeles is the leading metro area of green building in the US as of the second quarter of 2007 with 100 buildings totaling over 26 million square feet. San Francisco came in number five, with 30 buildings totaling almost 12 million square feet.  


The proposed Sunlight Powerlink would cut through parks and protected areas such as the Anza-Borrego Desert state park.

Photo courtesy California State Parks


Nix on Long Line for California
The first government analysis of the proposed Sunlight Powerlink, a 150 mile long electrical transmission line which would bring electricity from the Imperial Valley desert to San Diego, says it would result in at least 50 "significant, unmitigable" impacts to people and the environment and suggests that local electricity generation would be better. Powerlink is the first phase of a plan by the San Diego Gas and Electric company and its parent company, Sempra Energy to extend the line north to expand the California market for power from its coal-fired Mexico power plant. The 7,000 page report also considered nearly 100 alternatives to the project with input from over 1,300 different organizations and individuals. Micah Mitrosky, conservation organizer for the Sierra Club's San Diego Smart Energy Solutions campaign, said, "This proposal would devastate the [Anza-Borrego Desert State] park, wreak havoc on local communities, and unravel efforts to reduce global warming greenhouse gases." He suggested San Diego Smart Energy 2020 as a "smarter alternative to boost our local green energy economy and free our region from depending on imported fossil fuels."


David Hochschild, who co-chairs the SF Solar Task Force, and Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting announcing San Francisco's solar incentive program on the solar rooftop of Project Open Hand.


Largest Urban Solar Incentive Program in the US
San Francisco has come up with the only solar incentive of its kind in the US, providing direct financial incentives as well as a long-term loans and rebates to homeowners and businesses who want to install solar power. The package of proposals was announced by the San Francisco Solar Task Force, along with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting. The Solar Incentive (Rebate) Program is an ordinance that makes available $2-5 million per year over ten years for solar incentive payments. The Solar Loan Program is a ballot measure that creates a loan program that homeowners can use to finance the remainder of their solar installations after state and local rebates. The average residential solar rooftop installation in San Francisco costs approximately $20,000. The proposed local incentive payment - $3,000-$5,000 for residential properties, and up to $10,000 for commercial properties - along with state and federal rebates, would help cut the total cost to the customer almost in half. This direct incentive model is based on the successful state program in California that has doubled the number of rooftop solar energy systems to 32,000 in just two years.



All the Right Pieces
What do you get when you mix four cities, a national laboratory and a major university?  The perfect conditions for an emerging green corridor. That's what's happening in Northern California. The mayors of Richmond, Emeryville, Oakland and Berkeley got together with the chancellor of UC Berkeley and the director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to unveil their vision for the East Bay Green Corridor. The Green Corridor Statement of Principles says: "As new green technologies emerge and become commercialized, our jurisdictions will cooperate to create conditions that spark new companies, incubate their growth and give them the opportunities to expand in the region…" The East Bay could become one of the nation's green economic engines.



Architects Say: "Walk the Walk"
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has just launched a campaign to "educate, promote and encourage sustainable design among consumers, business owners and architects" called "Walk the Walk."  It is an effort to inform the marketplace about the benefits of more energy-efficient homes and buildings. AIA has a stated goal of making all buildings carbon neutral by 2030. To help achieve its goal, AIA offers toolkits: "Sustainbility 2030" and "50 to 50." 


Nonroad vehicles produce millions of tons of greenhouse gases.

Photo courtesy Flickr, yuan2003


California Asks EPA to Regulate Non-road Vehicles
Among the major overlooked sources of greenhouse gas emitters are non-road vehicles, engines and equipment. California, joining other states, government agencies and national environmental organizations, has petitioned the US Environmental Protection Agency to adopt standards. Announcing the petition at a news conference, California Attorney General Jerry Brown said, "Millions of industrial machines in mines, on farms and construction sites spew massive quantities of unregulated greenhouse gas pollution. The Environmental Protection Agency has not regulated the emissions from these vehicles and engines - just like it has failed to curb greenhouse gases from cars, ocean-going vessels, and aircraft."  Non-road vehicles mentioned in the petition were responsible for 220 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2007, equivalent to 40 million cars. According to the Air Resources Board, there are about 17.8 million non-road vehicles and machines in California.


Photo: Melissa De Ciero


Green Chemistry for California
Dealing with toxic waste before it is generated is the goal of a Green Chemistry Initiative,  which is similar to measures adopted by the European Union and the Canadian government to encourage greater manufacturer responsibility. And it lays out a framework for California to become a leader in the development of alternatives to toxic chemicals. California Secretary for Environmental Protection Linda Adams has directed the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to lead the initiative, which could have far-reaching effects on the state. "Our Cal/EPA team will be working in partnership with business and environmental groups on green chemistry for a healthier California," said Maureen Gorsen, the director of DTSC. "This initiative will provide a scientific basis and economic opportunity for environmentally safe products." Implementing green chemistry means that manufacturers consider public health and environmental effects of those products at the design phase and develop new products that reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances. About 80,000 compounds, most of which have not been studied for toxic effects to health or the environment, are in commercial use in the US.


Photo courtesy Environmental Protection Agency


New Law to Disclose Buildings' Energy Efficiency Data
Helping forward the intent of his Green Building Initiative, Executive order S-20-04, the Governor has signed into law AB 1103 (Saldaña, D-San Diego), which will require that energy efficiency scores in existing commercial buildings be disclosed when the buildings are put up for sale or lease, or when they are financed or refinanced.  Nonresidential buildings account for nearly 40 percent of the energy consumed in California, according to Saldeña. With AB 1103, the Energy Star national energy performance rating system will be used as a benchmark to assess how efficiently a building uses energy relative to similar buildings nationwide. "This information will help motivate building managers to make their buildings more energy efficient," Saldaña said, according to the California Chronicle. "It will also help them to establish investment priorities and to take advantage of energy investment opportunities offered by utilities and governments."  By 2009, with a go-ahead from building owners or operators, electric utilities will have to provide automated billing information for nonresidential buildings in a format that is compatible for uploading onto the Energy Star system. In 2010, the benchmarking data and scores generated by the Energy Star system must be disclosed.


Photo courtesy Practical Action


Governor Signs, and Vetoes, Waste Bills
According to Californians Against Waste,the 2007 legislative session had mixed results when it comes to waste prevention and recycling. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill, CAW-sponsored AB 548 (Levine), that would have required multifamily apartment owners to provide recycling services to their tenants, expanding recycling opportunities to their tenants. The Governor cited significant costs as a deterrent. He also vetoed AB 48 (Saldana) that would have prohibited the sale in California of electronic devices that contain certain hazardous materials, including lead and mercury, consistent with the European Union's RoHS (Reduction of Hazardous Substances) directive by 2010. According to CAW, this would have been in line with a policy already in place in the state on computer monitors and televisions, and which the Governor expanded earlier in the week by adding lighting products (AB 1109). He did, however sign several important bills relating to recycling and hazardous waste. AB 1109  (Huffman) creates a strategy to increase energy efficiency and reduce hazardous waste in lighting, expected to reduce CO2 emissions by more than six million tons over ten years. Under SB 966 (Simitian), programs will be set up at local levels for disposal of unused or expired pharmaceutical drugs.  Senator Padilla's Beverage Container Recycling Funding Legislation, SB 1021, will use unclaimed bottle bill deposits to help fund multifamily recycling programs. 



Saving Gallons by the Millions: Clean Cities Report
There are almost 90 Clean Cities coalitions throughout the U.S., and they are on track to displace 3.2 billion gallons of gasoline by 2020. This will exceed their established goal by 700 million gallons. According to the Clean Cities Annual Metrics Report 2006 by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), 375 million gallons of gasoline was displaced in 2006 by Clean Cities coalitions.  Clean Cities is a government-industry partnership sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Vehicle Technologies Program. With more than 5,400 stakeholders, Clean Cities' mission is to reduce petroleum consumption in the transportation sector. The numbers added up fast. According to the report, 71 percent of the 2006 gasoline displacement came from the use of alternative fuels. The use of E85, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, grew substantially in 2006, largely because the number of E85 stations doubled – from 436 to 995 – in the year. Coalitions reported acquiring almost 44,000 hybrid electric vehicles in 2006. HEV use accounted for the displacement of approximately 9 million gallons of gasoline. Idle reduction efforts displaced 8.4 million gallons in 2006, including 1.2 million gallons from truck stop electrification.  Almost 2 million gallons were saved by reducing the number of miles traveled.



A "Green Vision" that Will Be Hard to Top
San Jose is the tenth largest city in the United States, the third largest in California. If all goes according to its new 15-year plan, "Green" Vision," San  Jose will also be the world center of clean tech innovation.  By 2022, the city intends to have 25,000 clean tech jobs, to reduce per capital energy use by 50 percent, to receive 100 percent of its electrical power from renewable sources, to have built or retrofitted 50 million square feet of green buildings, and to divert 100 percent of waste from landfills and convert landfill waste to energy. It will also recycle or reuse 100 percent of its wastewater, and have a general plan with measurable standards for sustainable development. All of its public fleet vehicles will be running on alternative fuels, 100,000 new trees will have been planted and 100 percent if its streetlights will be zero emission lighting. To top it off, by 2022, San Jose the vision includes 100 miles of interconnected trails. 



A Good Idea from the UK
Schools in the UK have a £5,000 (about $10,000) incentive to integrate sustainability into their curriculums and their school cultures. Grants will be issued to schools with the best plans to involve faculty and pupil leadership teams. In a survey by the National College for School Leadership, it was found that less than 15 percent of school leaders felt their school is addressing sustainability effectively in key areas such as energy and water, travel and waste.  However, schools have also found that students themselves are  "passionate and active in driving sustainability agendas, once they are given a voice and the opportunity to do so." The research found that school leaders need to be "outward looking" to achieve a sustainable school and to "join up with the community." Ninety-eight percent of UK school leaders in the survey said that sustainability is important or very important to them. Nevertheless, NCSL's director says, "none of us know the answer of how best to lead a truly sustainable school…ultimately our aim…is to support school leaders to explore and share effective practice in this critical area…" 



A Green Apple for Heroes Elementary
Three thousand miles away from New York City, Heroes Elementary in Santa Ana, California is a memorial to the firefighters, police officers, volunteers and others who worked at Ground Zero in the aftermath of  9-11. It's also a monument to environmental excellence. The newly completed school has just received a Green Apple Award for excellence in high performance school design and construction by the Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS). 

Heroes exceeds Title 24 standards by nearly 24 percent; the school will save up to $1,000 a year per classroom in energy costs, according to designing architects
.  In addition to daylighting, a cool roof and light sensors, Heroes has taken its sustainability efforts a few steps further including the use of recycled waste tires, windshield glass, newsprint and beverage containers in its construction. 

  San Diego Schools Soak up the Sun
Four schools in the San Diego Unified School District will be saving energy and money new solar power systems installed under a special long-term power purchase agreement. Ericson Elementary, Standley Middle School, Tierrasanta Elementary and Walker Elementary are expected to reduce annual greenhouse gas (CO2) emissions by 514,259 pounds, Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) emissions by 360 pounds and Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) emissions by 46 pounds. Each were able to obtain their solar installations at no cost under an agreement with UPC Solar, which enables schools to buy solar electricity at competitive prices with little or no capital expense. The school district will be able to purchase solar electricity at guaranteed prices for twenty years.

Franchise Tax Board Executive Officer Selvi Stanislaus at the FTB Green Fair.

Photo courtesy FTB.

  Green Fair at the Franchise Tax Board
The "green" that the Franchise Tax Board deals with doesn't  usually involve hybrid cars, fuel cells and organic food. But in July, that's exactly what FTB employees served up. They celebrated their impressive track record in sustainability with a fair, "$tash the Cash and Go Green," which included more than 40 vendors showcasing green products, projects and services.

The event was held at FTB headquarters near Rancho Cordova. With a permanent full-time workforce in Sacramento of approximately 4,000 and another 1,500 seasonal workers during tax-filing season, there is an emphasis on sustainability at the agency. Estimates indicate that FTB exceeds the State of California's current energy efficiency standards for large office buildings by nearly 20 percent. Thirty seven percent of the FTB's workforce engages in some mode of alternative transportation, ranging from vanpools to bicycling to the light rail.

In addition to solar panels installed on the roof of one of its buildings, FTB's headquarters was designed to be green. It incorporates drought tolerant plants, indirect lighting systems, window shading, and bio-swales in the parking areas to reduce storm water run-off. During construction, existing asphalt was demolished and recycled into the sub-base for the new parking lot, and trees and shrubs not relocated were recycled into plant mulch.


Green Mandate for Commercial Buildings?
Leading with a picture of the LEED Platinum certified Academy of Sciences building in Golden Gate Park, a new report by the Mayor's Task Force on Green Building in San Francisco, lays out recommendations for the greening of all new buildings in the city.  It's possible that San Francisco will become the second large US city to mandate that all new private buildings be built to LEED specifications. If the city's board of supervisors approves recommendations set out in the report, all new commercial and residential buildings, along with major alterations, would have to be LEED certified. 
By 2012, large commercial and high-rise residential buildings would need to qualify for the LEED Gold rating. According to the task force, buildings that meet the report's requirements would save 220,000 megawatts of power and 100 million gallons of drinking water and prevent the release of 60,000 tons of CO2 over the next five years.



Congress May Assist Water Recycling

H.R. 1526, authored by Congressman George Miller (D-CA), would provide federal assistance to municipal efforts that use recycled water. It was recently passed by the House, and a similar bill is awaiting approval by the US Senate. The measure would bolster water recycling projects in seven Bay Area communities, and aims to lower the amount of water taken from the San Francisco Bay Delta and other fresh water sources. Recycled water would be used in city parks, golf courses, roadway medians and other green spaces in Antioch, Palo Alto, Mountain View, Pacifica, South Santa Clara County, Redwood City and San Jose.



It Costs No More Green to Build Green
There is no significant difference between green and non-green building costs according to an update of a widely circulated 2004 study, "Costing Green: A Comprehensive Cost Database and Budget Methodology."  Authors
Lisa Fay Matthiessen and Peter Morris of the construction cost management company, Davis Langdon, reached this conclusion after reviewing projects built during years when sustainable design has become more widely accepted and used. For information on the new study, "The Cost of Green Revisited," click here.



$5 Billion Proposed to Support Global Warming Goals

In what he hopes will become a November 2008 ballot measure, California State Treasurer Bill Lockyer has proposed a $5 billion bond to retrofit the entire state building inventory with solar panels, pollution controls and other clean energy technologies. Lockyer's proposal would help the state implement its part of the Governor's mandate under AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act, to cut greenhouse gases by 25 percent by 2020.


Image: Teachernet

  English Students Want Green Schools
Teenagers in the UK want their schools to increase sustainable practices around food, energy and communities, according to a new study commissioned by the Sustainable Schools Initiative of the Department for Children, Schools and Families.  The survey of 13-15 year olds found that 70 percent think it's important to know where the ingredients in school foods come from, although 88 percent said they currently knew little or nothing about it. Over 80 percent feel it's important for their school to use renewable energy and to harvest rainwater. For UK resources on sustainable schools, go to TeacherNet.

  Schools Capture Sun Power
In what may be the largest solar power and energy-efficiency facilities program in K-12 education in the United States, the San Jose Unified School District has entered into a unique partnership with Chevron Energy Solutions and the Bank of AmericaChevron Energy Solutions will design, build, operate and maintain a total of five megawatts of solar photovoltaic arrays at the district's schools and will measure, verify and guarantee the solar energy system's performance. Bank of America will own the solar equipment and through the company's Energy Services Financing Solutions team, sell power to the district at rates significantly below market utility rates. The project is expected to result in more than $25 million in energy cost savings to the district over the life of the solar power system, a 25 percent reduction in the district's demand for utility power, and a reduction of 37,500 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to planting 400 acres of trees. No district capital investment will be required.

  Farm to School: Sustaining Student Health
According to data collected by California Food Policy Advocates, in nearly two-thirds of California counties at least one in four children is overweight. The study also reports that unhealthy eating and inactivity have surpassed tobacco as leading causes of premature death. To help alleviate the problem, the Community Alliance with Family Farmers, a farmer-run organization, is bringing fresh, locally-grown and unprocessed fruits and vegetables into school cafeterias across California. The group initiates farm-to-school programs that find cost-effective ways of delivering food from small-scale farms to local schools with minimal processing and transport. For many financially strapped districts, the CAFF says their program has been a sustainable economic choice. 

  Governors Examine State School Policies
A new report from the National Governors Association, Integrating Schools into Healthy Community Design, examines state policies on school siting, school construction financing, and programs focusing on how policies can benefit communities, improve children's health, and reduce the need for infrastructure expansion. Strategies include revising school funding formulas to promote renovation or expansion of existing sites, requiring that schools be located in areas that already have sufficient existing infrastructure to support school facilities, and implementing Safe Routes to School Programs.

  Governor Appoints Will Bush DGS Director
Will Bush, interim director of the Department of General Services since January, has been appointed DGS Director by the Governor. Previously, he served as undersecretary for the State and Consumer Services Agency and held a number of different positions at the Franchise Tax Board. The position requires Senate confirmation.  DGS consists of six divisions, 23 operational offices, 4,000 employees and a budget in excess of half a billion dollars.

Western Governors Serious about Renewable Energy
At their annual meeting in Deadwood, S.D., U.S. governors of 10 western states, including Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, released a progress report that shows the region is on track to fulfill the groups 2004 environmental goals. These are to:  Develop an additional 30,000 megawatts of clean energy by 2015 from both traditional and renewable sources; achieve a 20 percent increase in energy efficiency by 2020; and ensure a reliable and secure transmission grid for the next 25 years. The Western Governors' Association  Clean and Diversified Energy Advisory Committee concluded that the West had the potential to meet, and possibly exceed its goals.


Silicon Valley Aims to be Solar Central
Noting in a new
white paper that California represents over 75 percent of the solar power market in the US, a new solar industry alliance in the Silicon Valley, SolarTech, is setting out to reclaim the San Francisco Bay area's high-tech reputation.  If the Alliance has its way the area will become alternative energy-central.  With California already the largest market for solar equipment in the world, SolarTech says the market is projected to expand with implementation of the $3.2 billion California Solar Initiative which began this year. The idea is to standardize solar panel installation, permitting, grid connection, power measurement and financing, among other objectives.


Flying the Carbon-Friendly Skies
Passengers aboard
Continental flights will soon be able to purchase carbon offsets along with their beer and wine. For $5.50 for a domestic flight and $11 for an international trip, customers will have the option to pay the fee when they book their flights online. Continental has hooked up with Sustainable Travel International, a Boulder, Colorado, non-profit, to use the carbon offset fees to finance forest preservation and renewable energy projects.


Photo: Matthew Davidson


Cows Chip In
Bovines will be providing 3 billion cubic feet of methane to Pacific Gas & Electric, which, according to an article in
Green Wombat, would be enough to power 50,000 homes. The California Public Utilities Commission gave the go-ahead to BioEnergy, a Bakersfield Company that will extract the methane from cow manure. BioEnergy's owner, David Albers owns a 3,000-cow dairy in Fresno County, which will supply the raw ingredients. There are nearly 2 million cows in California, each producing a daily outpouring of 10 pounds of "volatile solids."


Photo courtesy
Southwest Strategies LLC


First Solar Apartment Community in California
Solara, the first apartment community in California to be fully powered by the sun, officially opened in Poway in early June. Developed and owned by
Community HousingWorks, Solara "has helped create a model that affordable housing developments across the country can and should emulate," said Matt Petersen, president of Global Green USA, which provided technical assistance to the project. Solara's rooftop photovoltaic solar arrays produce enough energy to power the entire residential complex, and even supply surplus electricity back to the power grid. Besides solar energy, the community's green design includes the use of recycled materials throughout the complex, healthy indoor air quality, energy efficient materials and appliances and extensive water conservation measures. Solara is the first project delivered under the California Energy Commission's Zero Energy New Homes program.


Not Just for Macs – Apple Offers Free Computer Recycling

Apple, Inc. is making it easy for schools to get rid of old and outdated computer systems and peripherals by taking advantage of its Free Recycling program. The take-back program doesn't require the old systems to come from Apple. Register by June 30 at 1-800-277-5356. The company will collect the equipment and will destroy anything that could become a security risk, including removal of tags, serial numbers and other identifying marks. Hard drives will be broken into "confetti-sized" pieces. All American computers received will be recycled within this country.


State Assembly Acting on Environmental Bills

The Assembly voted 44-26 to send a global warming bill to the Senate. Assemblyman John Laird's (D-Santa Cruz) bill, AB 1066,would require coastal cities to consider the impact of global warming when making general plans.   A bill that would outlaw the toxic chemical phthalates for use in plastic products intended for children, AB 1108, passed the Assembly by a vote of 41-31 and was sent to the Senate. Assemblyman Ted Lieu , D-Torrance, and Assemblyman John Laird have authored an energy efficiency bill, AB 1058, which calls for all commercial buildings built after July 1, 2012 to meet strict energy efficiency standards. The bill passed the Assembly by a 43-28 vote and was sent to the Senate.  Another green building bill, AB 35,  by Assemblyman Ira Ruskin, D-Redwood City, states that government buildings would also have to meet green building standards. It also went to the Senate by a vote of 45-31.   


Energy Efficiency – California Tops the List

No one does energy efficiency like California, except for Vermont and Connecticut, according to a new state ranking by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. ACEEE has just released a  ranking of state-level energy efficiency policies, the State Energy Efficiency Scorecard for 2006, which shows the three states tied for top place. 
The report, funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, grades each state and the District of Columbia on actions they have taken in the race to adopt energy efficiency policies, programs, and technologies.


Up On the Roof:
One of the World's Most Ambitious Biodiversity Experiments

The new California Academy of Sciences museum in Golden Gate Park  is planting a roof garden considered to be one of the grandest experiments in "integrated regenerative architecture." The $300 million science center is incorporating a  197,000 square foot roof garden of native strawberries, stonecrop and California poppies. An estimated 1.7 million individual plants will represent perennial and wildflower species, becoming the museum's first living residents. The academy roof is unprecedented, containing  seven domes and steep hillocks to emulate the San Francisco topography. Inside the hills will be a sky-lit dome of a rain forest display.


Mayors Take the Reins on Climate Control
While cities only cover a tiny percentage of the Earth's surface, they account for 75 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity. In August, 2006, mayors from 22 large cities convened in Los Angeles to launch the
Clinton Climate Initiative, a project sponsored by the former president's William J. Clinton Foundation. During the week of May 14–17, mayors from 34 of the world's largest cities met in New York City at the C40 Large Cities Climate Summit to discuss subjects including climate action plans, water and energy and environmentally responsible transport.

Fifty percent of emissions from cities are produced by buildings; so far, sixteen cities are taking advantage of a $1 billion partnership under the Clinton Climate Initiative to retro-commission city-owned buildings.


London Congestion Charge Clears the Air
Drivers in London have been paying a "congestion charge" of eight pounds(about $16) to get into the city during daytime hours. Though the charge was hotly contested when implemented several years ago, most Londoners have changed their attitudes. The city has seen a 38 percent drop in private cars-twice the anticipated figure. Bicycling has increased more than 80 percent, and the number of people using the bus has grown from four to six million. As a result, London Mayor Ken Livingstone announced recently that the city has achieved a 20 percent reduction in carbon emissions.

Other large cities are taking notice. In April, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed a congestion charge for Manhattan as part of his multi-billion dollar Green Plan. Studies of
Los Angeles suggest that congestion costs the average household over $4,000 per year - by 2010 that cost is expected to rise to almost $7,000 per year. Congestion charges of $0.10-0.30 per peak-traffic mile could produce smog reductions worth more than $200 million a year.

Big Green Plans for a Big City
In partnership with the Los Angeles City Council and environmental leaders, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has unveiled "GREEN LA–An Action Plan to Lead the Nation in Fighting Global Warming." The plan includes more than 50 initiatives intended to reduce the city's carbon footprint. "We're setting the green standard in LA," Mayor Villaraigosa said. "Reducing our carbon footprint by 35 percent below 1990 levels is the most ambitious goal set by a major American city."

"Today's proposal by Los Angeles shows that an essential network for climate action is spreading throughout the west and beyond," said Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. "As part of the historic global warming law I signed last year, cities and counties will play a critical role in meeting the state's goal to roll back greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels. LA's plan shows that cities can take local action to find global solutions."


Western Governors Partner for Climate Change
Governors from five partner states - Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington, have joined together to address climate change with a new western regional initiative that not only sets reduction targets for greenhouse gas emissions, but also commits to a market-based strategy to achieve them. The Western Regional Climate Action Initiative calls for identifying specific emission reduction levels by the end of August, and the market-based approach for implementing the targets by August of 2008. Other regional climate initiatives are already in place – the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states; the Lake Michigan Air Directors Consortium in the Midwest, and the Southwest Climate Change Initiative.


U.N. Partnership Set to Change E-Waste Habits
Throughout the world, forty million tons of electronic waste is disposed of every year. Developing countries are absorbing some 80 percent of recycled "e-waste." Often, it is handled by untrained workers who lack the equipment necessary to protect them from exposure to lead, arsenic, mercury and other toxic chemicals. Only four
U.S. states (including California) and the European Union have enacted some form of end-of-life legislation in an effort to reduce these hazards. A new United Nations partnership, StEP (Solve the E-waste Problem), has been formed to create a global electronics recycling standard and encourage companies to make longer-lasting products. StEP's membership includes governments, universities, and electronics companies.

Click here to view a slide show that documents the compelling need to regulate and manage e-waste. (Images courtesy of StEP.)


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