Friday, August 6, 2010

Monday 8/9, Tell San Carlos You Want a Strong Green Building Program

If you want the City to have a comprehensive green building program, now is the time to let the City Council know. Despite strong public support for a robust green building program, green building programs in other nearby municipalities, and a Climate Action Plan that says the City is to implement a green building program, the City staff has proposed a "green" building ordinance that would only require increased building energy efficiency, but would not address water conservation, resource conservation, appliance efficiency, indoor air quality, or the other issues that are routinely incorporated into a comprehensive green building ordinance.

We encourage you to speak up at the City Council hearing on the proposed ordinance, which starts at 7 pm on Monday evening. If you are not available to speak in person, you can send your written comments to the City Clerk in advance: You can also send comments directly to individual city council members:,,,,

Not sure what to write? You can cut and paste from the San Carlos Green/Cool Cities comments. The draft ordinance and staff report are available here.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

San Carlos Green Writes to Building Department

If you are looking for text to serve as inspiration (or cut and paste) for your letter to the City regarding their wimpy proposed "green" building ordinance, you can check out the letter sent by 7 members of San Carlos Green.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Wimpy Draft Green Building Ordinance

The draft green building ordinance circulated on July 22nd by the San Carlos Building Department to a group of community stakeholders only addresses building energy efficiency, and fails to address other green building features like water conservation, indoor air quality, resource conservation, or appliance efficiency. The 10-page draft ordinance, which is undergoing additional editing and anticipated to be submitted to City Council for adoption at its August 9th meeting, would require that new commercial and residential construction, residential reconstruction, residential additions over 500 square feet, and commercial additions over 500 square feet be modeled to be 15% more energy efficient than the State currently requires.

Although at its June stakeholder meeting, the Building Department proposed requiring LEED Silver certification for new commercial buildings and 50 to 75 GreenPoints for various sizes of residential projects, the draft does not require or provide an incentive for use of the LEED or GreenPoint programs. And although at its July stakeholder meeting, the Building Department announced its plan to adopt a new otherwise-voluntary State green building program – CalGreen Tier 1 – as mandatory, the draft ordinance does not require this either.

The City likes to claim it is green, yet this ordinance would address far fewer green building issues and be far more lenient than the programs that have been adopted in unincorporated San Mateo County, the City of San Mateo, Redwood City, Palo Alto, Los Altos, Hillsborough, and other nearby communities that have adopted green building programs.

If you believe the City should adopt a robust green building program, we encourage you to (1) e-mail your comments to; and (2) plan to speak at the City Council meeting on August 9th, and check in advance for the final draft ordinance, which should be released with the agenda for the 8/9 City Council meeting.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Fresh Links to CAP

Fresh Links to CAP

Due to a city staff reorganization of the documents posted on the e-packets web site, the links posted on our blog on Thursday no longer work. Here are the updated links:

The new version of the CAP, released Thursday, is available here. Its appendices can be found here. A recent staff report regarding changes to the CAP and green building alternatives can be found here. Its attachment, a summary of green building ordinances, prepared by the state Attorney General's office in Sept. 2009, is here.

Community comments on the draft CAP were moved to the EIR section of the agenda, and can now be found here.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Join Us at Monday's City Council Hearing

Join Us at Monday's City Council Hearing
We encourage you to come to the City Council hearing Monday 10/12/09 at 7:00 to provide your comments on the proposed Climate Action Plan. Although City staff had said the Climate Action Plan would be discussed before the rest of the General Plan, it currently appears very last on the agenda -- so we do not know what time the discussion of the CAP will begin.

The CAP is agenda item 10.d, which you can indicate on your speaker slip when you arrive at the meeting.

The new version of the CAP, released Thursday, is available here. Its appendices can be found here. A recent staff report regarding changes to the CAP and green building alternatives can be found here. Its attachment, a summary of green building ordinances, prepared by the state Attorney General's office in Sept. 2009, is here.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Where is the Draft CAP?

The City appears not to have posted the most recent revised version of the Climate Action Plan on its General Plan web site. So here are links to the current versions. We anticipate additional errata documents and/or revised versions may be released in advance of the City Council's 10/12 hearing on the CAP and GP.

draft General Plan
City's proposed changes to draft General Plan

9/09 draft Climate Action Plan (see links at "Consideration of Resolutions concerning the San Ca - Climate Action Plan, Attachment 3, Exhibit A.pdf" as well as A-1, A-2, A-3, and A-4)
9/14 PMC memo regarding changes to draft CAP
9/18 PMC memo regarding changes to draft CAP

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

San Carlos Lagging Behind in Green Efforts

press release from San Carlos Green:

For Immediate Release - September 29, 2009

San Carlos Lagging Behind in Green Efforts
Important Green Building Ordinance may be excluded from Climate Action Plan

As other neighboring cities are adopting green building standards, the City of San Carlos is lagging behind in adopting similar green standards for homes and businesses that improve energy efficiency and water conservation -- and achieve important greenhouse gas emission reductions.

Palo Alto, Brisbane, San Mateo County, Hillsborough, San Jose and 53 other California cities have already adopted green building ordinances -- and more cities such as Redwood City and San Mateo are adopting standards soon. These policies call for minimum green building standards such as increased insulation or water conserving plumbing in new construction. In spite of public support for green building standards, the City of San Carlos is in jeopardy of not including a green building ordinance in their greenhouse gas reduction planning document, known as the San Carlos Climate Action Plan. Most cities are completing climate action plans to guide their efforts to meet emission reduction targets that were established by Assembly Bill 32, California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. AB 32 mandates a 15% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and 80% reduction by 2050. San Carlos drafted the Climate Action Plan and the Plan is slated for consideration by the San Carlos City Council on October 12 and 26 at 7pm.

“A green building ordinance is crucial for successfully reducing emissions since nearly half of our emissions are from building, lighting and heating our homes and businesses,” says Kathleen Gallagher, a member of San Carlos Green. “Residents benefit from a green building ordinance since green standards save energy and water costs -- a green home can reduce energy consumption by as much as 65%.” San Carlos Green, a community task force that works to promote sustainable practices, has been promoting green building standards in San Carlos. Several other organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce, Laureola Association, League of Women Voters, and Community United Church of Christ, also support green building efforts and over 143 people signed a San Carlos Green/Cool Cities petition last year asking the City to immediately begin phasing in a Green Building program.

Instead of adopting a green building program, an alternative that is favored by city staff is to rely on a less flexible State green building requirements for single-family homes anticipated in 2011, and as-yet-undeveloped State requirements for commercial buildings. The problem with this option is that the resulting emissions are too small for San Carlos to meet its emission reduction targets according to San Carlos Green. A recent city report showed that a green building ordinance would result in reducing emissions by 15,106 tons but the state code standards would only reduce emissions by 728 tons. “Many cities choose not to wait for the state to develop a green building code for construction and are now implementing local green building ordinances. Many other cities are developing a Green Building ordinance, including Redwood City, Foster City, and Pacifica,” says Suzanne Emerson, San Carlos Green member and Chair of the city’s Climate Action Plan Subcommittee. “A green building ordinance provides an important opportunity for San Carlos to build energy efficient, water conserving, resource efficient and healthier homes in San Carlos.”

There are excellent cost benefits to a green building ordinance when the cost per ton of emissions is considered. The estimated cost for the green building ordinance is 42 cents per ton of reduced emissions according to a city report. “When you compare the environmental benefit of the green building ordinance in comparison to other programs in the Climate Action Plan that range in costs up to $59 per ton, the green building ordinance is clearly the better economic and environmental choice” says Kathleen Gallagher. A recent study shows that green design results in life cycle savings of 20% of total construction costs -- more than 10 times the initial investment. “There are so many cost effective & inexpensive green choices homeowners can make to design or remodel a home, and, if they plan from the beginning to incorporate green concepts, the cost can be further reduced” says Susan Davis, a local home builder and designer from Spectrum Fine Homes.

“Neighboring cities that have adopted green building ordinances use grant funds to implement green building programs and use free resources provided by Build It Green, a non-profit green building organization. If San Carlos continues to choose to promote itself as a green city, then the city needs to at least adopt a green building ordinance similar to other green communities,” says Ann Iverson, a San Carlos Green member.

The full green building report by San Carlos Green can be found at

About San Carlos Green
San Carlos Green is a citizens’ task force collaborating with the city of San Carlos to explore and promote conservation and resource management best practices for the city, businesses, schools, and citizens in order to inspire a more sustainable community and achieve a positive financial impact. Activities include policy recommendations, community volunteer activities, and educational programs regarding environmental issues such as climate change, waste reduction, energy and water conservation, green building, sustainable landscaping, and urban canopy.

For further information:

Kathleen Gallagher, San Carlos Green, 650-906-1089,

Ann Iverson, San Carlos Green, 650-595-3719,