Monday, November 24, 2008

Adopt-A-Tree for Christmas

Dreaming of a Green Christmas

Now through December 8, Friends of the Urban Forest and SF Environment are offering San Francisco residents a chance to order a living, potted Christmas Tree for $90. Each one of the 6-ft to 8-ft tall trees has been handpicked to thrive in San Francisco.

Available trees include Southern Magnolia, Small Leaf Tristania, Strawberry Tree, and New Zealand Christmas Tree.

You can choose which tree you would like to have in your home for the holidays when you pick up your tree at the City Hall Plaza Green Christmas Tree lot on December 7th, from 9 am until 5 pm. Trees will be available on a first come, first served basis. If you miss the tree lot, you can pick up your tree at the Friends of the Urban Forest offices from December 8, 2008 through December 12, 2008. After the holidays, Friends of the Urban Forest will pick up the trees from you and plant them on SF's city streets.

- Urban trees reduce water pollution by capturing street runoff from storms.
- Trees save on energy costs by acting as shade from the sun and as a shield from the wind.
- Street trees help clean the air and can reduce incidences of childhood asthma.

More details here.

Local urban forestry organizations:
Friends of the Urban Forest
Urban Releaf

Friday, November 21, 2008

Planting Daffodils in Oakland

Northgate participated in the City of Oakland’s 5th annual Plant Daffodils program on Saturday, November 15th. The program is sponsored by the City of Oakland, Keep Oakland Beautiful, and The Home Depot.

Organized by the Northgate Green Team Social Justice Task Force, led by Brendan Mulholland, Northgate planted over 200 daffodil bulbs along a 6-block stretch of 23rd Avenue from East 21st Street to East 27th Street in Oakland. The bulbs will bloom by March or April.

Thanks to everyone who volunteered their time and energy!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

LEED for Neighborhood Development

LEED Rating System Open for Public Comment

The US Green Building Council (USGBC) is inviting public comment on the LEED for Neighborhood Development Rating System. The system integrates the principles of smart growth, new urbanism, and green building. The program is a collaborative effort between USGBC, the Congress for the New Urbanism, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The rating system is built upon the LEED for Neighborhood Development Pilot Rating System, which nearly 240 projects have been using since July 2007 as part of a pilot program. Eighteen projects have already been certified.

Any member of the public may submit comments. To view the rating system draft and comment, please go the LEED Rating System Drafts webpage. The public comment period will be open from November 17, 2008 through January 5, 2009.

For more information about the LEED for Neighborhood Development program please visit the USGBC website.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sustainable Remediation Survey

Please tell us about your sustainable remediation experience!

Are you new to sustainable remediation? Or maybe you've been practicing sustainable remediation for years but have never considered the many attributes that qualify your cleanups as "green"? Have you tried sustainable remediation but encountered resistance?

The Northgate Green Team would like to learn more about your experience...and you might learn a few things about sustainable remediation in the process. We've put together a brief survey to make sharing easy!

Click here to go to the survey.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Northgate's Carbon Footprint

We do indeed have one, but how does it compare?
Maile Smith, November 13, 2008

Earlier this year I calculated Northgate's first, i.e. baseline, carbon footprint. We will update our carbon footprint analysis annually. Our carbon footprint is one way to measure the impact of our operational activities on the environment in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases produced, measured in units of carbon dioxide. The guidance for this analysis was the "Greenhouse Gas Protocol", developed by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the World Resources Institute. I also used a companion document called "Working 9 to 5 on Climate Change: An Office Guide".

The organizational boundary for the study encompassed our Oakland and Newport Beach offices and all full-time employees. The operational boundary encompassed:
–Scope 1 direct emissions from company car use
–Scope 2 indirect emissions from office electricity
–Scope 3 indirect emissions from employee commuting, business travel (car and air), and paper use

Measured in tonnes of carbon dioxide (1,000 kg), Northgate's 2007 carbon footprint was:
–Scope 1 direct emissions = 8.0
–Scope 2 indirect emissions = 60.2
–Scope 3 indirect emissions = 158.7

So how do we compare to other environmental consulting firms that have reported their emissions to the California Climate Action Registry? One annual emissions report for a large, nation-wide firm reported no direct emissions (i.e., no company vehicle use) for 2006 for their US operations. Their Scope 2 emissions from energy use was 2,623 tonnes. Another large, multi-national firm reported 107 tonnes of Scope 1 emissions and 165 tonnes of Scope 2 emissions for their California operations. It is unclear if either firm accounted for employee commutes or travel in optional or de minimus emissions calculations. This makes it difficult to compare apples to apples, as Northgate's baseline appears to comprise elements that the others do not.

Is there room for improvement? Definitely. Aside from keeping the lights on, the largest contributors to our carbon footprint are employee commuting, paper use, and airline travel (in decreasing order). And although many Northgate staff already use public transportation, we should continue to encourage mass transit use as well as carpooling, biking, and walking. We have already made strides to increase the recycled content of our paper, and efforts are underway to reduce paper use overall.

Agreement Reached in Klamath Basin

Pact unveiled that would remove dams
Jeff Barnard, Associated Press, November 13, 2008

The Bush administration has announced a nonbinding agreement for removing four dams along the Klamath River, a key to resolving the basin's long-standing trouble balancing the water needs of farms and fish. The deal represents a milestone toward what would become the biggest dam removal project in US history.

Built between 1908 and 1962, the four dams block salmon from 300 miles of spawning habitat while producing enough electricity to power about 70,000 homes. The agreement is a roadmap for turning the dams over to a nonfederal entity and starting to remove them by 2020.

The deal embraces a $1 billion environmental restoration blueprint for the Klamath Basin that has been endorsed by farmers, Indian tribes, salmon fishermen and conservation groups. Besides restoring fish habitat, it guarantees water and cheap electricity for farmers, as well as continued access to federal wildlife refuges for farming. Dean Brockbank, vice president and general council for PacifiCorp, said though the agreement was nonbinding, the utility was committed to seeing it through to removal of the dams.

Read the complete story here:

The High Cost of Air Pollution

Bad air costing state's economy billions
Jane Kay, SF Chronicle, November 13, 2008

California has the worst air in the country, and 20 million people living in the dirtiest regions account for billions of dollars a year in economic losses because of premature death, chronic illness, hospitalizations and missed school and workdays, according to a new study.

The cost of air pollution in the Los Angeles Basin and San Joaquin Valley - which are the top violators of the federal Clean Air Act - is estimated at $28 billion a year. But because the state's economy is closely integrated, the costs in these hubs of manufacturing, shipping, entertainment and agriculture put a damper on all of California, the researchers found. The financial burden on families, hospitals, health maintenance organizations and employers from premature deaths and respiratory and heart problems in the two regions - home to more than half the state's population - fans out to the rest of state, the economists found.

The study found that in the San Joaquin Valley, the cost of air pollution comes to more than $1,600 per person per year, which would translate into a total of nearly $8 billion in savings if federal ozone and particulate matter standards were met. In the Southern California counties, the cost is more than $1,250 per person per year, nearly $22 billion in savings if the standards were met, the study said.

The research team includes Cal State Fullerton economics professors Jane Hall and Victor Brajer, plus Frederick Lurmann, manager of exposure assessment studies at Sonoma Technology Inc. in Petaluma. The $90,000 study, peer-reviewed by scientists at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, was financed by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The researchers said they used data and methodology widely accepted by the Environmental Protection Agency and other experts.

Read the complete article here:

Monday, November 10, 2008

New ASTM Standards to Support Global Sustainability

ASTM Committee E60 to Develop Standards That Will Drive Mainstream Market Implementation
Market Watch, Wall Street Journal Digital Network, November 10, 2008

ASTM International, one of the world's largest voluntary standards development organizations, announced the formation of ASTM Committee E60 on Sustainability. This new standards development initiative results from the cooperative efforts of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and industry stakeholders who share mutual goals for global sustainable development.

Diverse stakeholders will come together for the newly formed ASTM International Committee E60 to create the consensus standards that will promote and integrate sustainable development across multiple industry sectors. Dr. Mary C. McKiel, EPA Standards Executive, commented, "ASTM's proven ability to produce globally-used consensus based standards in environmental and sustainability areas make it well-suited to support the goals of this new standards writing activity and the open process needed to ensure its utility."

ASTM Committee E60 will build upon previous ASTM technical committee work, including the efforts of ASTM Subcommittee E06.71 on Sustainability, which has contributed numerous standards that support sustainability in the building industry. The initial scope of Committee E60 will focus on Building and Construction, Hospitality, and General Sustainability Standards.

Read the complete article here:{6F34D3B9-4EEC-4C1E-AF9D-4A9642726CC2}

Learn more about ASTM Committee E60 here:

Green Festival

Green Festival, the nation’s largest green consumer living event will take place in San Francisco on November 14, 15, & 16, 2008 at the San Francisco Concourse Exhibition Center and the Giftcenter Pavilion Theater.

The festival will highlight economic and environmental sustainability issues that have been so relevant in headlines and town halls across the nation. A joint project of Global Exchange and Co-op America, two leading nonprofit organizations dedicated to environmental and social justice for more than twenty-five years, Green Festival is a forum to explore and build sustainable solutions for communities and the environment. The San Francisco Green Festival will host 150 visionary speakers, 400 local and national green businesses, and dozens of community and nonprofit groups. Green Festival attendees will explore the latest in clean technology, green building, socially responsible investing, eco-fashion, renewable energy, green careers/green collar jobs, natural foods, groundbreaking films, eco-tourism and the perfect place to pick up economical, meaningful holiday gifts.

Kicking off the 2008 San Francisco Green Festival on Friday, November 14th at the Giftcenter Atrium is the Word to the Mother (Earth) event. Prominent social justice veterans and hip-hop pioneers will headline, including Chuck D, legendary leader of Public Enemy, Mutabaruka, Jamaica’s revolutionary dub poet, and Drew Dillinger, a spoken word poet, professor, activist, and founder of Poets for Global justice. Dr. Cornel West, best-selling author of Race Matters and Democracy Matters, will talk about his latest book, Hope on a Tightrope. Bay Area green-economy expert and advocate Van Jones will speak in his hometown about how “Green Collar Jobs” can save the polar bears while solving the US financial crisis. TED speaker and New York Times bestselling author of “How to Get Your Brain to do What You Want it to do”, Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, will also present, as well as award winning journalist and host of Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman.

Green Festivals take place in San Francisco, Chicago, Washington, DC, Seattle, and Denver and saw over 170,000 guests in combined attendance in 2007. To reduce the impact of the event on the environment, those who arrive by bicycle are offered reduced admission along with valet bike parking.

Learn more at

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Green Building Standards

California Adopts Voluntary Green Building Standards
Alyson Wendt, GreenSource Magazine, September 15, 2008

California has become the first state to adopt green building standards into its building codes. The standards, adopted by the California Building Standards Commission, will become part of Title 24, the state’s building and energy-efficiency regulations, in July 2009. Although currently voluntary, the standards will become mandatory in 2011 after another round of code reviews.

The highlights:
- Commercial buildings must use 15%–30% less energy compared with current code requirements
- Commercial buildings must meet 1% of their total energy use with onsite renewable generation
- Residential buildings must meet energy code requirements and include air-sealing measures
- New buildings must demonstrate 20% savings in indoor potable water use compared with current code requirements
- Residential standards limit the use of multiple showerheads in a single shower
- Outdoor water use in commercial buildings must be reduced by 50% compared with current code requirements
- Requires 2.5%, by cost, of the materials used in new commercial buildings to be biobased materials

The standards also contain provisions for rainwater collection and graywater irrigation, as well as dual plumbing in commercial buildings for potable and recycled water. And they include extensive indoor environmental quality requirements for commercial buildings. The green building standards add increased ventilation, daylighting, and occupant control of thermal and lighting comfort to the equation for commercial buildings (California already has limits on formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products). The standards for residential buildings require that homes meet the formaldehyde regulation and avoid paints, adhesives, carpets, and other materials with high levels of VOCs.

Read the complete article here: