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 www.sancarlosgreen.org

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, kathleen-gallagher@sbcglobal.net

Ann Iverson, San Carlos Green, 650-595-3719, ann@sancarlosgreen.org

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