Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Daily Environmental Lectures, Events, and News from COP15

The San Francisco Carbon Collaborative, in partnership with other regional climate leaders, is hosting a local hub for climate outreach, education, and action during COP15, the United Nations Climate Change Conference.

The Copenhagen Cafe at the Green Zebra Environmental Action Center is a place to gather, to learn, to deliberate, and to act. It is an open and accessible venue for all levels of environmental interest and commitment, and will maintain a direct link between the Bay Area and Denmark during the conference.

The Copenhagen Cafe will be open Monday through Friday, from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm. Each morning, there will be a review of the latest news from the COP15 Climate Conference. The Cafe will host introductory talks on a range of climate related topics during the lunch hour. And there will be panels, discussions, and film screenings during the evening.

The programs are free of charge, but the Cafe encourages registration because space is limited.

Greenhouse Gases Threaten Human and Environmental Health

The EPA today formally determined that greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution endangers human health and the environment. Under a Supreme Court ruling, the endangerment finding is needed before the EPA can regulate carbon dioxide and five other GHGs released from automobiles, power plants, and factories under the federal Clean Air Act. This finding sets the stage for EPA to finalize the GHG standards proposed earlier this year for new light-duty vehicles as part of the joint rulemaking with the Department of Transportation. It also allows EPA to move forward with its "tailoring rule", which will require major sources of GHGs to take steps to limit emissions from new facilities by using Best Available Control Technology (BACT).

Read Administrator Lisa P. Jackson's comments on the endangerment finding here.

Read the Associated Press article about the finding here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Proposed Amendments to 'New Source Review of Toxic Air Contaminants'

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) is accepting comments through this Thursday, December 3, on proposed amendments to Regulation 2, Rule 5, New Source Review of Toxic Air Contaminants and the Health Risk Screening Analysis (HRSA) Guidelines for this rule.

Regulation 2, Rule 5 prevents significant increases in health risks resulting from new and modified sources of toxic air contaminants based on preconstruction permit review. The program also reduces existing health risks by requiring updated control requirements when older, more highly polluting sources are modified or replaced.

The proposed amendments incorporate revised California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) health risk assessment methodologies for proposed projects throughout the district. The proposed amendments revise Table 2-5-1 to incorporate changes to risk assessment guidelines that have been adopted by OEHHA as of June 1, 2009. These revisions include cancer potency factors, RELs, and emission trigger levels. The proposed amendments contain a toxics tracking provision for each Priority Community under the BAAQMD’s Community Air Risk Evaluation program. Under this provision, the BAAQMD will track and report emissions changes of toxic air contaminants from permitted stationary sources, mobile sources, and area-wide source over time.

On Wednesday, December 16, 2009, the BAAQMD Board of Directors will conduct a public hearing to consider the proposed amendments and to consider adoption of a CEQA Negative Declaration. The hearing will be held in the 7th floor Board Room of the BAAQMD office, 939 Ellis Street, San Francisco, commencing at 9:45 am.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Copenhagen Diagnosis - Interim Climate Science Report

A team of climate scientists has produced The Copenhagen Diagnosis, a summary of peer-reviewed science on the anticipated impacts of anthropogenic climate change.

The purpose of this report is to synthesize the most policy-relevant climate science published since the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (AR4). Since then, many hundreds of papers have been published on a suite of topics related to human-induced climate changes. The report serves as an interim evaluation of the evolving science, and as a handbook of science updates that supplements the IPCC AR4. (IPCC AR5 is not due for completion until 2013.)

Despite recent revelations and controversy over some data sets and scientists’ actions, the report authors believe that world leaders still have plenty of topics to discuss during the UN Climate Change meeting that begins next week in Copenhagen.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Protecting Ecosystems Saves Money

Natural capital – ecosystems, biodiversity, and natural resources – underpins economies, societies, and individual well-being. And, according to a new study hosted by the UN Environment Program (UNEP), protecting ecosystems saves money. For example, the Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity study puts a $2 to 5 trillion price tag on the ongoing cost of forest loss and estimates that potential rates of return can reach 40% for mangrove and woodlands/shrublands, 50% for tropical forests, and 79% for grasslands.

The study highlights that losses in the natural world have direct economic repercussions that we systematically underestimate. Developing our capacity to measure and monitor biodiversity, ecosystems, and the provision of services is an essential step towards better management of our natural capital. Providing evidence of the value of our natural capital to decision-makers paves the way for more targeted and cost-effective solutions. Developing and strengthening policy frameworks to manage the transition to a resource-efficient economy is the way forward. Investing in natural capital can be a cost-effective response to the climate change crisis, support local economies, and create jobs.

Study leader, Pavan Sukhdev, a Deutsche Bank economist, said "We have now evaluated 1,100 studies ranging across different countries and different ecosystem services. And we find that with protected areas, for example, no matter how you slice the figures up you come up with a ratio of benefits to costs that’s between 25-to-one and 100-to-one."

Sukhdev added, "Now we can say quite confidently that there is a solid benefit from investing in protected areas…Establishing reserves, policing them and so on, would cost about $40-50 billion per year – and the annual benefit would be about $4-5 trillion."

Quick Survey = Chance to Win $200

Brighter Planet, a company that helps people manage and mitigate their environmental footprint, is offering folks a chance at winning $200 for completing a short survey.

The survey asks approximately 30 easy questions about your company's environmental commitments.

About Brighter Planet:
Brighter Planet offers a free social web application that allows anyone to measure their climate impact, discover tailored conservation tips to save energy and money, create emission-reducing strategies, and share their ideas and experiences. They offer no-fee Visa credit and debit cards that earn innovative rewards that help build renewable energy projects. They also provide offsets and organize web-based campaigns aimed at finding solutions to climate change.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mostly Good Intentions, Though...

Poll: Sometimes it isn't easy being green
H. Josef Hebert, Associated Press, November 17, 2009

A survey released today suggests people have largely embraced recycling and are inclined to turn down thermostats to save energy. But it also indicated that some paths toward a greener Earth aren't as easily undertaken.

The telephone poll, conducted for The Associated Press and NBC Universal, tries to gauge attitudes about the environment. It found that 60% of those surveyed felt either a "great deal" or "a lot" of personal responsibility to protect the environment, while 37% rarely, if ever, even thought about the environmental impact of their actions.

Other results:
  • 72% were very likely to recycle cans and bottles
  • 63% were very likely to turn down thermostats
  • 62% were very likely to buy energy-efficient appliances
  • 59% were very likely to use cold water for clothes washing
  • 59% were very likely to buy recycled paper products
  • 65% said it's more difficult to use less energy than to use less water
  • only 23% were very likely to eat less meat
NBC Universal's sponsorship of the poll was related to their Green is Universal week of programming about environmental issues.

Read the complete article here.

New Sustainable Remediation Resources

Several new sustainable remediation resources are available via the SURF website:

New LCA study (in "Links") - Life-Cycle Case Study Comparison of Permeable Reactive Barrier versus Pump-and-Treat Remediation, a November 2009 Environmental Science and Technology article by Monica R. Higgins and Terese M. Olson of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

New conference proceedings (in "Links") - GreenRemediation: Incorporating Sustainable Approaches in Site Remediation - International Conference, Copenhagen, Denmark, November 9-10, 2009

New paper/presentation on the application of "sustainability" in site cleanup (in "Library") - Developments in Sustainability Assessment within Contaminated Land Management, Perspectives of SuRF-UK and NICOLE, a 2009 paper and presentation by R. Paul Bardos, r3 environmental technology ltd (copyright r3 environmental technology ltd)

California's Mandatory Reported GHG Emissions for 2008

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) is making available to the public a summary of facility greenhouse gas emissions data reported pursuant to the California mandatory GHG emissions reporting program required by the 2006 California Global Warming Solutions Act (AB32).

Under the program, California's largest industrial GHG emitters were required to report their emissions for the first time in 2009.

The 2008 GHG emissions data represent the reported emissions from electricity retail providers and marketers and six industrial sectors: cement plants; oil refineries, hydrogen plants, and stationary combustion sources (emitting 25,000 metric tons CO2 or greater per year); and electricity-generating facilities and cogeneration facilities (≥1 megawatt generating capacity and emitting 2,500 metric tons CO2 or greater per year).

The emissions reported by facilities through the Mandatory Reporting Program represent approximately 40 percent of California's statewide greenhouse gas emissions.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sharing Environmental Patents

The Eco-Patent Commons, launched by IBM, Nokia, Pitney Bowes, and Sony in partnership with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), was founded on the commitment that anyone who wants to bring environmental benefits to market can use these patents to protect the environment and enable collaboration between businesses that foster new innovations. The objectives of the Eco-Patent Commons are :

  • To provide an avenue by which innovations and solutions may be easily shared to accelerate and facilitate implementation to protect the environment and perhaps lead to further innovation.

  • To promote and encourage cooperation and collaboration between businesses that pledge patents and potential users to foster further joint innovations and the advancement and development of solutions that benefit the environment.

Since the launch of the Eco-Patent Commons in January 2008, one hundred eco-friendly patents have been pledged by eleven companies representing a variety of industries worldwide: Bosch, Dow, DuPont, Fuji-Xerox, IBM, Nokia, Pitney Bowes, Ricoh, Sony, Taisei, and Xerox.

For example, DuPont has shared a method for better detecting pollution in soil, air, or water by using a microorganism that produces light when exposed to a pollutant.

Another environmental licensing initiatives is also in the works: Creative Commons, the non-profit developed to share creative and scientific content, is collaborating with Nike and Best Buy to create Green Xchange, which will include options for charging users annual fees and restricting competitive use of patented technologies.

Read more about patent commons in the New York Times.

Is Brown the New Green?

Urban Brownfields Make Way for Research-Oriented Mixed-Use Communities
McGraw Hill Construction Continuing Education Center, Nancy B. Solomon, November 2009

Urban brownfields have become increasingly attractive sites for redevelopment; companies seeking to create the next designer drug or the slickest software are transforming the areas into a new kind of urban research park. Woven into the fabric of a mixed-use, walkable community, these research parks stand in sharp contrast to more traditional ones, which are typically sited on sprawling suburban campuses and relatively isolated from the hubbub of daily commerce. Given the important role that research and technology play in today's highly competitive global economy, interest in such urban research parks is bound to increase.

Cleanup costs and liability risks historically associated with brownfield redevelopment have lessened now that the assessment and cleanup tools are largely in place, the regulatory framework has improved, and developers have become more familiar with the process. "Local governments have also become more effective at making these sites shovel-ready," says Christopher De Sousa, associate professor at the School of Architecture and Urban Planning, and Department of Geography at UW-Milwaukee and co-director of the Brownfields Research Consortium. In many urban districts, public money is typically part of such a redevelopment process.

Although the specifics of each project vary, urban brownfield research parks share certain similarities. The redevelopments, for example, tend to be located near a hospital or university or both (e.g., University Park at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts; South Lake Union between downtown Seattle and Lake Union, Washington; Piedmont Triad Research Park in Winston-Salem, North Carolina).

Various developers stress the value of collaborating early on with all stakeholders to get their input and buy-in and downplay the technical challenges of remediating their respective sites. However, no matter what the targeted use, De Sousa believes that the main challenge facing urban brownfield redevelopment in the US "is the ease with which we can still develop on greenfields."

Read the complete article and take the continuing education test here.

Corporate America Moving Sustainability Initiatives Forward

A 2009 study commissioned by Siemens Building Technologies and conducted by McGraw-Hill shows that three out of four executives view sustainability as consistent with their company’s profit mission and engage in sustainability activities, double the amount in 2006. Over half (58%) believe sustainability will serve the financial performance of their company, up from 31% in 2006.

The economic crisis has supported and not deterred sustainability activity in the firms represented in the study. Over half (57%) believe sustainability practices are either unaffected or aided by a down economy. Only 32% view an economic crisis as an obstacle.

Energy savings is the most important driver toward sustainability, with 75% citing it this year, and 73% in 2006. Government regulations decreased as a driver with only 29% citing it, down from 40% in 2006. However, 72% expect it to become a requirement.

Over 80% of larger firms believe sustainability provides market differentiation, and over 70% expect sustainability efforts to retain and attract customers and reduce the costs of doing business. Almost a third reported dedicated funding for sustainability.

Sixty-nine percent reported that their firm employs three or more sustainability practices. The most common sustainability practices are:
  • Recycling
  • Employee engagement/activities
  • Green building
  • Initiatives with NGOs/voluntary government programs
  • Publication of annual sustainability reports
Read the Executive Summary of the study here, and click here to download the complete report.

LEED Certification Now Comes with Monitoring and Reporting Requirement

LEED certification can now be revoked by USGBC
Dani Grigg, Idaho Business Review, October 19, 2009

A green building can have its certification revoked in the newest version of the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building standards.

New rules require building owners to submit performance data on an ongoing basis for five years after certification. If they don't comply, their project's LEED status can be rescinded.

The USGBC has said this change was spurred by studies showing some LEED buildings were not performing up to expectations.

Some developers might be worried about the new requirements - it's a financial investment to get LEED certification.

The Living Building Program, which is a program designed by the Cascadia chapter of the USGBC, already requires buildings to wait a year after opening before earning certification. At that point, there's enough data on energy usage to make a determination about performance.

Read the complete article here.

Looking for New Solutions in Water Efficiency

Imagine H2O, a national non-profit, hopes to inspire and empower people to solve water problems. Imagine H2O offers prize competitions and mentoring support to help innovators and entrepreneurs turn ideas into real-world solutions that ensure clean water and sanitation.

The inaugural Imagine H2O Prize Competition is accepting entries until November 16, 2009. The focus of this year’s competition is water efficiency — a timely topic considering that water scarcity is an urgent problem in the US and the world. Business plan entries may focus on the efficient use and supply of water in agriculture, commercial, industrial, or residential environments.

Participants will not only help solve a global issue, they will also receive assistance to bring their business idea to market. A total of $70,000 in cash prizes and in-kind services will be awarded, including legal, tax, and accounting services.

Imagine H2O’s incubator resources will provide winners with direct and ongoing assistance from leading water, business, and legal experts, including Cooley Godward Kronish LLP, PricewaterhouseCoopers, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, and the National Water Research Institute, who will help entrepreneurs develop their winning ideas into products or services that have commercial potential and social value.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Legislature Passes $11B Water Package

Legislature passes water-system overhaul
Wyatt Buchanan and Marisa Lagos, San Francisco Chronicle, November 4, 2009

The California Legislature has passed a sweeping, multibillion-dollar overhaul of California's water system that will affect how Californians will receive and use water.

Legislative leaders have worked for weeks on the final deal, which includes an $11 billion bond measure that passed by slim margins in both the Senate and Assembly. The bond must go before the voters to win approval.

The water package consists of five major parts:
  • A new seven-member board to oversee the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
  • A 20% conservation mandate for urban areas, with credits for cities that have made significant conservation efforts. Agricultural entities will have to follow best practices for water use.
  • New regulations to monitor groundwater levels throughout the state.
  • Increased penalties for illegal water diversions.
  • A $11.1 billion bond to pay for the overhaul, $3 billion of which would be set aside for new water storage, and more than $2 billion for restoration of the delta ecosystem.
Read the complete SF Chronicle story here.

Read more in the Sacramento Bee and the Los Angeles Times.

World's Largest Carbon Capture and Storage Project

Chevron Australia has awarded General Electric (GE) a contract for the world’s largest carbon capture and storage (CCS) project off the West Australia coast’s Gorgon natural gas field. Chevron estimates the CCS project will sequester four times more carbon than any other project. The project is a joint operation with the Australian subsidiaries of ExxonMobil and Shell. The Gorgon field is believed to contain about 40 trillion cubic feet of gas, about eight percent of the current global capacity. The Gorgon project is estimated to cost approximately A$43 billion for the first phase of development and about A$50 billion overall. The GE contract alone is worth over $400 million.

GE will supply six units capable of injecting captured carbon 1.3 km underground the Gorgon field. GE will also supply three refrigerant units that will chill and pump 15 million tons of natural gas a year from the Gorgon field through sub-sea and underground pipelines to gas treatment and liquefaction facilities on Barrow Island off Australian coast. Before liquefaction, the carbon will be taken out of the natural gas and injected into depleted natural gas wells.

The West Australia branch of World Wildlife Federation (WWF) opposes the Gorgon CCS project. WWF’s Paul Gamblin said, "We believe it is a substantial threat to one of Western Australia’s most important environmental icons."

Others are critical of CCS projects in general, believing that they encourage fossil fuel production.

"The main objective to mitigate climate change should be cutting carbon dioxide emissions at point of origin," said geologist Gabriela von Goerne of the German branch of Greenpeace. "By reducing fossil fuel consumption, the demand naturally shifts toward energy sources that don’t produce carbon dioxide, like solar, wind and hydro energy."

Read more here, here, here, and here.

12 Alameda County Firms Win StopWaste Awards

Competitive Advantage Cited as Top Reason for Going Green

At a recognition event on October 16, local public agency StopWaste.Org honored twelve Alameda County companies with the 2009 StopWaste Partnership Business Efficiency Awards for outstanding achievements in enhanced operational efficiency, environmental performance and waste reduction.

The winners are:
  • Bayer HealthCare, LLC (Berkeley)
  • 555 12th Street by Shorenstein Realty Services (Oakland)
  • Boston Scientific Corporation (Fremont)
  • Carl Zeiss Meditec (Dublin)
  • Costco Wholesale (Livermore)
  • La Tierra Fina (Union City)
  • Golden Gate Fields Racetrack (Albany)
  • Lucky Supermarkets (Alameda county stores)
  • US Postal Service's Oakland Processing and Distribution Center
Emerald Packaging (Union City), Heat and Control, Inc. (Hayward), and Peterson Holding Company (San Leandro) received Honorable Mentions.

Speaking to a full house, StopWaste.Org Executive Director Gary Wolff praised the leadership demonstrated by the recognized firms and emphasized their competitive advantage. "The companies we are honoring today are not only saving money and protecting the environment," Wolff said. "By making their operations more efficient, often involving the entire supply chain, these forward-thinking businesses have significantly reduced their vulnerability to economic shocks. In today’s economic climate, that’s valuable."

The 2009 award winners substantiate industry experts' claim that environmental responsibility positively impacts the bottom line. For example, the US Postal Service's Oakland Processing and Distribution Center has realized annual savings of $90,000 through increased recycling and waste prevention efforts, and Boston Scientific Corporation has slashed their disposal services bill by 50 percent. Expanding efficiency efforts beyond their own company, Bayer HealthCare LLC is working intensively with their suppliers while Costco Livermore is promoting their successful waste reduction program companywide.

Contact Justin Lehrer at StopWaste for more information.

USGBC Super Heroes of Green Building

The 3rd Annual Green Building Super Heroes Award Gala was held on October 30, hosted by the US Green Building Council, Northern California Chapter (USGBC-NCC). The event, attended by 800 people including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and USGBC CEO Rick Fedrizzi, honored the achievements of the green building community.

Honorees included:
  • The Community Service Award went to Green Building in Alameda County, a program of
  • The David Gottfried Special Achievement award went to Anthony Bernheim of AECOM Design
  • The Green Team Award went to the David Brower center, another phenomenal building made possible by the collaboration of 10 groups of designers and contractors
  • The Green Groundbreaker Award went to Integrated Design Associates (IDeAs)
The evening ended with a keynote from Steve Westly, former State Controller and CFO of California and Managing Partner of The Westly Group, a clean tech investment firm. He called for the need to pass climate change legislation, postulating that within one generation we should be capable of regenerating communities and the built environment such that they can sustain the health and vitality of all life.

Creating Policy and Building Infrastructure for Local Hire Programs

Wednesday, November 18th, 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
David Brower Center, 2150 Allston Way, Berkeley, California

Local hire requirements have the potential to be a powerful mechanism by which multiple sectors can work together to advance socioeconomic equity in urban communities. But how can we ensure that local hire programs benefit poor communities and communities of color in the long term, with lasting, quality jobs that lead to a reduction in poverty and that sustain community growth over time?

This event will engage with four local hire experts who will share case studies and demonstrate the importance of making sure that local hire requirements are not only clearly and strongly articulated, but also that local hire programs include key infrastructure features - such as well funded training pipelines, city staff buy-in, monitoring mechanisms, and consequences for lack of compliance - for effective operation that puts local residents to work in good jobs and responds to local socioeconomic needs in poor communities.

Confirmed speakers include:
  • Julian Gross, Attorney, Community Benefits Law Center
  • Marie McKenzie, Redevelopment Manager, City of East Palo Alto
  • Alex Paxton, Special Assistant to Deputy Chief of Operations, Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles
  • Bernida Reagan, Director of Community and Client Relations, Merriwether & Williams Insurance Services
RSVP to guarantee your reservation. Seating is limited.

Opportunity Green - UCLA, November 7-8, 2009

Opportunity Green business conference will bring together the brightest innovators leading the growth of the new green economy. Explore the latest in sustainable strategies and best practices, and get the inside view on the hottest topics, trends, and technologies focused on creating new opportunities through sustainability.

Opportunity Green events are designed to provide business professionals the insight, inspiration, tools, and resources to create and implement sustainable business solutions. Meet supply chain vendors, find individuals who need your service, explore joint venture or business partnerships, and learn from professionals being hired and companies finding top quality talent.

Speakers include:
  • Annie Leonard, Producer/Writer/Founder, The Story of Stuff
  • Adam Lowry, Co-founder/Chief Greenskeeper, Method Products, Inc.
  • Alex MacDonald, Economist, NASA Ames Research Center
  • Peter Diamandis, Founder, X Prize Foundation
  • Antonio R. Villaraigosa, Mayor of Los Angeles
Register and learn more here.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Climate Corps Champions Energy Efficiency

Together with partner Net Impact, EDF's Climate Corps program embeds talented MBA students from top-ranking business schools in leading companies to make the business case for energy efficiency investments in office buildings and data centers.

The program just completed its second year. Overall, the 2009 class of Climate Corps fellows uncovered efficiencies in lighting, computer equipment and heating and cooling systems that could:
  • Save more than $54 million in net operational costs over the lifetime of the projects;
  • Cut the equivalent of 160 million kilowatt hours of energy use annually—enough to power 14,000 homes;
  • Avoid 100,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year— equivalent to taking more than 12,000 SUVs off the road.
These astounding outcomes were achieved by keeping an eye on no-cost or low-cost solutions that can provide the largest savings.

Read more here.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Laundry to Landscape

SF backs off on graywater permit requirement
Kelly Zito, San Francisco Chronicle, October 22, 2009

San Francisco's Building Inspection Commission says it will coordinate with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to develop a pilot program for residential graywater systems, backing away from a controversial proposal that would have required homeowners to obtain potentially costly permits for systems to recycle household water for use in backyards and gardens.

Commissioners are hopeful that this new tack strikes a balance between graywater proponents frustrated by San Francisco's attempt to alter state codes and city inspectors who feared the do-it-yourself systems would result in a plumbing free-for-all. Complicated graywater systems and those for multi-unit buildings would still require permits and detailed plans.

Read the complete story here.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Stimulus Funding for Brownfields in San Francisco

$1.8 M in Stimulus Goes to Brownfields Jobs
Environmental Protection Online, October 19, 2009

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) recently announced $5 million in grants and low-interest loans that will help bring hundreds of jobs to the San Francisco Bay Area and turn contaminated property into land for apartments, retail shops, day care centers, and a park.

Funds for the revitalization work will come from the $1.8 million in federal stimulus money DTSC received from EPA over the summer, along with money from the DTSC’s Revolving Loan Fund Program, which offers low-interest loans and grants to clean up brownfields. The Revolving Loan Fund, launched three years ago with a $3 million grant from EPA, is overseen by DTSC in partnership with the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency and the city of Los Angeles. The partnership is expected to approve additional grants and loans in the near future.

Read the complete story here.

Green Lining to Real Estate Bust

Developers' bust proves a boon for land trusts
Peter Fimrite, San Francisco Chronicle, October 19, 2009

San Francisco-based Trust for Public Land recently agreed to purchase and forever preserve 595 acres of oak woodlands and 2 miles of river in the Sierra foothills.

The chaparral-covered land 15 miles outside of Marysville had been slated to be bulldozed for homes. But the housing bust allowed the trust to swoop in with a $4 million offer that was quickly accepted.

It seems like a rare opportunity, but all over California, tough economic times are forcing investors and developers to abandon housing projects and real estate deals that would have made them a fortune just a few years ago. Conservation organizations and trusts are moving in to buy the land, often at bargain basement prices.

The trust has also made a $3 million offer for the adjacent 505-acre Blue Point property, a stunningly picturesque area of historic sites and spectacular cliffs that were scoured out by hydraulic gold mining between 1865 and 1884.

And, it is in the process of purchasing the Bruin Ranch, a 2,300-acre oak woodland about 15 miles away for $12.6 million. It was for sale for $30 million three years ago.

Land deals are being negotiated by the trust throughout the country, including 80 acres of waterfront property in Florida owned by the company run by former San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo.

Read the complete story here.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Executive Order to Set GHG Emissions Reduction Targets

President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order today that sets sustainability goals for federal agencies and focuses on making improvements in their environmental, energy, and economic performance. The Executive Order requires federal agencies to set 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets within 90 days.

The new executive order mandates agencies across the federal government to "measure, manage, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions toward agency-defined targets," the White House said in a statement.

The Executive Order also agencies to meet a number of energy, water, and waste reduction targets, including:

  • 30% reduction in vehicle fleet petroleum use by 2020;
  • 26% improvement in water efficiency by 2020;
  • 50% recycling and waste diversion by 2015;
  • 95% of all applicable contracts will meet sustainability requirements;
  • Implementation of the 2030 net-zero-energy building requirement;
  • Implementation of the stormwater provisions of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, section 438; and
  • Development of guidance for sustainable Federal building locations.

The federal government is the largest consumer of energy in the US economy. It occupies nearly 500,000 buildings, operates more than 600,000 vehicles, employs more than 1.8 million civilians, and purchases more than $500 billion per year in goods and services.

The Executive Order builds on and expands the energy reduction and environmental requirements of Executive Order 13423 by making reductions of greenhouse gas emissions a priority of the federal government, and by requiring agencies to develop sustainability plans focused on cost-effective projects and programs.

Transportation, Land Use, Housing, and SB 375

The California Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act (SB 375) links regional transportation planning processes to planning for land use and housing with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The goal of this legislation is to develop regional plans that encourage compact development served by high quality public transit.

This caucus will explore the relationship between transportation, land use, housing, and climate change and the opportunities that SB 375 may offer in advancing regional equity as it meets its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The program will explain how local land use planning processes (and related boards and commissions) will contribute to regional development and equity through the SB 375-mandated Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS).

Wednesday, October 21, 6 pm to 8 pm
David Brower Center, 2150 Allston Way, Berkeley
Seating is limited. RSVP early to guarantee your reservation.
RSVP to Laurie Jones Neighbors at Urban Habitat.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Brownfields 2009 - November 16-18, New Orleans

The National Brownfields Conference is the largest, most comprehensive conference in the nation focused on environmental revitalization and economic redevelopment. Brownfields 2009 offers over 150 educational sessions, including lively panel discussions, dynamic roundtables, outstanding plenary sessions, special trainings, and film screenings.

Major conference themes for 2009 include:

  • Community & Economic Development
  • Environmental Assessment & Cleanup
  • Financing & Financial Risk Management
  • Green Building & Sustainability
  • Information Technologies
  • International Planning & Design Approaches
  • Public Health & Worker Safety
  • Public Policy, Law, & Regulation
  • Real Estate & Dealmaking
  • Redevelopment Strategies & End Uses
  • Stakeholder Involvement & Environmental Justice

Plenary speakers include Lisa P. Jackson, EPA Administrator; Majora Carter, President of Majora Carter Group LLC, former Executive Director of Sustainable South Bronx, and MacArthur Genius Award winner; and the Honorable C. Ray Nagin, Mayor of City of New Orleans.

There is no registration fee to attend the conference. The conference is underwritten with support from the EPA.

California State Parks Foundation 40th Anniversary

Join the California State Parks Foundation for their 40th Birthday Bash. The party is scheduled for Sunday, October 25, 12:30 to 4 pm in the brand new Pavilion By the Bay on Treasure Island.

There will be birthday cake and live music with children's activities and games, fortune telling, tarot, face painting, magic, lots of food, and good times. Adults can enjoy a libation as well. There will also be a silent auction, and a live auction at 3 pm to bid on a brand new Subaru Outback.

Adults: $20 (before Oct 11) at the door: $25
Kids ages 8–12: $12.50 • Kids under 8 are free
RSVP by October 11th

For more information email or call Bonnie Davis (415.262.4409).

Sebastião Salgado Photography Exhibit

Then and Now
Photographs by Sebastião Salgado
On display through January 31, 2010 in the Hazel Wolf Gallery at the David Brower Center

This exhibition presents a selection of images spanning a career in documentary photography by renowned Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado. His images tell the story of an era, tracing the human and environmental impacts of modern industrial civilization through the lives of workers, the rural poor and the displaced. These powerful photographs have been selected from Salgado’s long term projects: Other Americas, Sahel, the End of the Road, Workers, Migrations and Africa. Also on view are select images from his current "work in progress," Genesis, which began in 2004 and will be completed in 2011. These images reveal nature – landscapes, flora, fauna and human settlements – in its earliest state.

In his native country, Sebastião and his wife Lélia work together on an environmental restoration project in Brazil called Instituto Terra. The project's mission is to restore a portion of Brazil's Atlantic forest, raise environmental awareness, and work on small economic development projects benefiting the communities living in that high biodiversity area.

The Brower Center, including the Hazel Wolf Gallery, is open weekdays from 10 am until 5 pm. The Center is located at 2150 Allston Way, Berkeley, California.

EPA Pumps $26M Green Stimulus into Southern California

Funding aimed at air quality improvements
Pat Brennan, Green OC, October 1, 2009

Yesterday at the Port of Long Beach, US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson announced more than $26 million in federal stimulus funding, including millions to retrofit trucks and school buses in the South Coast Air Basin.

Much of the funding, authorized under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, is aimed at cutting diesel pollution in the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. Diesel pollution results in more than 2,000 hospitalizations and 50,000 cases of asthma and respiratory illness across the state each year, EPA says.

The funding includes:
  • $4 million for research on technology to create cleaner-burning heavy duty trucks for the air district
  • more than $4 million to replace or retrofit diesel engines for 112 pieces of cargo-handling equipment at the Port of Long Beach
  • $1.9 million to replace or retrofit 27 such pieces of equipment at the Port of Los Angeles
  • $8.8 million to “repower” at least eight switch-yard locomotives in Southern California
  • $1.7 million to the state Air Resources Board to retrofit school buses in the region, awarded in April
  • nearly $1 million to cut emissions from a variety of types of construction equipment, including tractors, excavators and forklifts
Read the complete story here.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

So Right So Smart Film Screening

Earth Island Institute invites you to join them for a screening of the new documentary, So Right So Smart. This film highlights the successes of businesses that have taken positive steps toward an environmentally sustainable future, and features the pioneering work of Ray Anderson, Founder and Chairman of Interface, Inc.

The screening will be followed by a question-and-answer session with Ray Anderson, and a book signing for his new book, Confessions of a Radical Industrialist.

Sunday, October 4, 2009
2:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Richard and Rhoda Goldman Theatre
David Brower Center
2150 Allston Way (at Oxford)
Berkeley, California

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Final Rule on Mandatory GHG Reporting

On September 22, 2009, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule for mandatory reporting of greenhouse gases (GHGs) from large GHG emissions sources in the United States.

This reporting rule will provide a better understanding of where GHGs are coming from and will guide development of the best possible policies and programs to reduce emissions.

This national reporting requirement will provide EPA with GHG emissions data from facilities that emit 25,000 metric tons or more of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, including suppliers of fossil fuels or industrial greenhouse gases, and manufacturers of vehicles and engines.

This action includes final reporting requirements for 31 of the 42 emission sources listed in the proposal. EPA continues to consider comments and options for the remaining source categories.

The following source and supply categories are not required to report at this time:
  • Electronics manufacturing
  • Ethanol production
  • Fluorinated GHG production
  • Food processing
  • Industrial landfills
  • Magnesium production
  • Oil and natural gas systems
  • SF6 from electrical equipment
  • Underground coal mines
  • Wastewater treatment
  • Suppliers of coal
Detailed information and text of the final rule is available on the EPA's website.

Previously on the Northgate Sustainability Forum: A Mandatory GHG Registry for the US?

What's Good for the Environment is Good for the Economy? Some Not So Sure...

Americans continue to send mixed signals about the dangers of climate change
Rasmussen Reports, September 25, 2009

In a recent poll, 47% of respondents said that they do not consider themselves selfish for putting economic concerns ahead of the fight against global warming.

Twenty-nine percent (29%) take the opposite view and believe Americans are being selfish for putting the economy first, and 24% are not sure.

Still, 52% of all Americans agree with President Obama that "the danger posed by climate change cannot be denied, and our responsibility to meet it must not be deferred."

Sixty-four percent (64%) of US voters say global warming is at least a somewhat serious problem, with 35% who regard it as very serious. Forty-seven percent (47%) believe global warming is caused by long-term planetary trends rather than human activity, and 42% blame human activity.

Perhaps the World's Largest Dam Removal Project

Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement
Bettina Boxall, Los Angeles Times, September 30, 2009

PacifiCorp, a Portland, Oregon utility, has consented to the removal of four hydroelectric dams that for decades have been the subject of bitter feuding among farmers, fishermen, and tribal interests along the Klamath River.

The dams, which range in height from 33 feet to 173 feet and are spread across 65 miles of the Klamath, have impaired water quality and blocked a 300-mile migratory route for salmon for a century.

Removal won't begin until 2020, but is seen as vital to restoring California's dwindling salmon stocks.

Backers say the decommissioning -- which still must be approved by the federal government -- would be the nation's largest and most complex dam removal project. The tentative agreement was reached after a decade of negotiations among 28 parties.

Read the article here, and in the San Francisco Chronicle here.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

PG&E Quits US Chamber of Commerce

PG&E takes a stand against "disingenuous attempts to diminish or distort" the facts around global climate change
Mary Catherine O'Connor, Triple Pundit, September 22, 2009

In the past several weeks, two high-profile companies - Duke Energy and Alstom - publicly gave up their membership in the American Coalition for Clean Coal Energy in protest over its opposition to federal climate change legislation.

Now, in a letter to the US Chamber of Commerce, PG&E Chairman and CEO Peter Darbee cited "fundamental differences" over climate change to explain why the company is pulling out of the organization, despite the Chamber's "long history as a positive force for America's businesses and its economy."

The utility quit the Chamber, a lobbying group that represents three million businesses and has called for the EPA to hold a public hearing in order to debate if climate change is a result of human activity--part of its attempts to oppose federal emissions regulations.

PG&E is not the first Chamber member to air its dismay at the organizations’ stance on climate change. Politico reports that Johnson & Johnson and Nike have both taken steps to put distance between their firms and the Chamber’s lobbying against climate and cap-and-trade legislation.

Monday, September 21, 2009

West Coast Green - October 1-3, 2009

West Coast Green, known as the largest green building conference, is expanding its focus this year to include the "intersection of the built environment and technology", with sessions on Business & the New Economy and Social Innovation.

This year's event will be held October 1-3 at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco, California. Over 14,000 attendees are expected. There will be 300 exhibits showcasing the latest in resource efficiency, 80 education and networking sessions to learn and discuss innovations and opportunities with thought leaders fact-to-face, and 125 inspirational and dynamic speakers, including:

  • Ray Anderson - Chairman and Founder, Interface, Inc.; Author, Confessions of a Radical Industrialist
  • Dan Kammen - Director, Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory, UC Berkeley
  • Panama Bartholomy - Advisor to Commissioner, California Energy Commission
Register in advance for a reduced price.

Triple Pundit readers can get additional discounts.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bay Trash Hot Spots

Plastic bags threaten the bay
Kelly Zito, San Francisco Chronicle, September 15, 2009

In their fourth annual report on the most garbage-strewn sites in the region, Save the Bay says plastic bags remain a severe threat, clogging wetlands, strangling wildlife and harming water quality. The 50-year-old environment advocacy group zeroed in on 10 hot spots where a total of almost 15,000 plastic bags were retrieved from the Bay Area during 2008's Coastal Cleanup Day.
  • 1.37 million plastic bags were picked up by volunteers during the Ocean Conservancy's 2008 International Coastal Cleanup Day, second only in number to cigarette butts.
  • Californians use approximately 19 billion plastic bags and 5 billion paper bags annually.
  • Bay Area residents use 3.8 billion plastic bags every year. Each year about 1 million end up in the bay.
  • 12 million barrels of oil are used to produce 30 billion plastic bags in the US every year.
  • The average use time for plastic bags is about 12 minutes.
  • In San Francisco, as many as 30 percent of people in grocery stores are bringing in their own bags says Mark Westlund, spokesman for San Francisco's Department of the Environment.
Read the complete article here:

And please consider donating a few hours of your time for 2009's Coastal Cleanup Day, Saturday, September 19. Volunteers are still needed!

Monday, September 14, 2009

EPA Region 9 Recovery Act News

California's Green Projects During the First 200 Days of the Recovery Act
San Francisco, California, September 3, 2009

On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. More than $517 million in Recovery Act funds have already been obligated to California, including:
  • The California State Water Resources Control Board will receive $2.8M for water quality management planning. In addition, the Board’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund program will receive $280M for water quality protection projects.
  • The California Department of Public Health’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund program will receive $159M to provide low-interest loans for drinking water systems to finance infrastructure improvements and ensuring safe drinking water.
  • Seven Tribes in California will have improved access to vital water services through $8.5M in Recovery Act funding. Projects to be undertaken include upgrades to wastewater treatment, upgrades to sewer connections, and expansion of sewer lines.
  • The California Air Resources Board has been awarded $1.73M in Recovery Act funds for clean diesel projects. Eligible projects include engine idling reduction and retrofit technologies, engine replacement, vehicle replacement, and clean diesel emerging technologies.
  • A cooperative agreement with the California State Water Resources Control Board will be used to distribute $15.6M for assessment and cleanup of underground storage tank petroleum leaks.
  • Over $25M in Clean Diesel Recovery funds will be used to replace, repower, and retrofit engines in buses, heavy-duty trucks, locomotives, agricultural vehicles, construction vehicles, and cargo handling equipment in metropolitan Los Angeles, the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, San Diego, San Joaquin Valley, and the Bay Area.
  • To help clean up brownfields sites, EPA has awarded $3.3M from the Recovery Act and $6.8M from the EPA brownfields general program funding to help communities in California revitalize former industrial and commercial sites, turning them from problem properties to productive community use.
  • EPA has awarded $700K, funded in part through the Recovery Act, to the Los Angeles Conservation Corps. The LA Conservation Corp will provide job training for 160 students to learn the latest environmental technologies and prepare them for "green" jobs.
  • Over $10M in new funding through the Recovery Act will be used to accelerate the cleanup at the Iron Mountain Mine Superfund site near Redding, California.
For more info, please visit

The EPA's Pacific Southwest region on Twitter:
The EPA's LinkedIn group:

Superfund Green Remediation Strategy - Request for Comments

Memorandum from James E. Woolford, Director, Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology Innovation

The Superfund Remedial Program has developed a strategy that sets out its current plans to reduce energy use and enhance the environmental performance of remedial and non-time critical removal actions undertaken to address hazardous waste sites. The development of the Strategy reflects EPA’s recognition that at many sites, more can be done to limit the environmental footprint of Superfund activities, while at the same time protecting human health and the environment. I am writing to ask for your comments on the Strategy.

Developed by a workgroup of Headquarters and regional staff, the Superfund Green Remediation Strategy is an initial effort to outline key actions and related activities that can be undertaken to promote green remediation. These action items fall into three major categories: policy and guidance development, resource development and program implementation, and program evaluation. The Strategy also contains a number of recommendations including calling for EPA to implement a series of near-term program initiatives and establish a baseline of Superfund energy usage.

The Strategy is available at EPA will accept comments until November 10, 2009.

Comments should be sent to:
Superfund Green Remediation Strategy, Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology Innovation, U.S. EPA, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Mail Code 5204P, Washington, DC 20460 or may be e-mailed to

ASTM Green Cleanup at Waste Sites

EPA's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER) has been working with private and public partners to foster the use of best management practices (BMPs) for green remediation at waste sites throughout the US. The EPA developed a list of green cleanup core elements that may serve as a framework for an ASTM green cleanup standard (posted here). The existing core elements were developed using input from the EPA’s April 2009 public website posting as well as from other public conferences and meetings.

The E50 Green Cleanup Task Group Leader, Helen Waldorf, is in the process of using the core elements to develop an initial draft ASTM Guide. Discussions for initiation of the standard have included members from ASTM staff and Committee E50, EPA, industry and State agencies. This standards development project was also approved by the E50.90 Executive Subcommittee.

First Meeting

The first meeting for the ASTM E50.04 Green Cleanup Task Group will take place in conjunction with the regularly scheduled E50 meetings on Thursday, October 22, 2009 8:00 am-4:00 pm in Atlanta at the Hyatt Regency. The purpose of this meeting will be to review the core elements as well as a draft outline for the ASTM Guide (Guide to be distributed prior to the meeting). A detailed agenda will also be distributed a few weeks prior to the October 22 meeting.


Members and non-members can register for the E50 meetings by visiting the ASTM Website. Simply click “Meetings” from the left side menu and then select “Committee E50” from the drop down. Then click “Environmental Assessment, Risk Management and corrective Action” in order to register, download the complete E50 schedule and access hotel and other information.

Call for Participation

If you are a non-member and are interested in joining ASTM Committee E50, please visit and click “Membership” from the left side menu. Complete the online application and indicate that you want to join Committee E50 on Environmental Assessment, Risk Management and Corrective Action and the E50.04 Corrective Action Subcommittee. As a member, you are able to vote and provide input on standards ballots. You will also have access to minutes, agendas, meeting information and other E50 documents. Members are entitled to one free Book of Standards. All E50 standards are found in Volume 11.05 (select Volume 11.05 during the application process).

All stakeholders interested in serving on the Green Cleanup task group should contact Dan Smith ( Task Group members will be placed on the email distribution list and will receive Green Cleanup progress reports, revised drafts, notices of upcoming meetings, etc.

If you have any questions about membership or Committee E50, please contact Dan Smith ( If you have any technical questions about the development of the ASTM Green Cleanup standard, please contact Helen Waldorf (

Draft ASTM Green Cleanup Core Elements

Green Cleanup Core Elements

1. Minimizes Total Energy Use and Maximizes Use of Renewable Energy

  • Minimize energy consumption (e.g., use energy efficient equipment)
  • Power cleanup equipment through onsite renewable energy sources
  • Purchase commercial energy from renewable resources

2. Minimizes Air Pollutants and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

  • Minimize the generation of greenhouse gases
  • Minimize generation and transport of airborne contaminants and dust
  • Use heavy equipment efficiently (e.g., use a diesel emission reduction plan)
  • Maximize use of machinery equipped with advanced emission controls
  • Use cleaner fuels to power machinery and auxiliary equipment
  • Sequester carbon dioxide onsite (e.g., use soil amendments, revegetate)

3. Minimizes Water Use and Impacts to Water Resources

  • Minimize water use and depletion of natural water resources
  • Capture, reclaim and store water for reuse (e.g., as aquifer recharge, irrigation)
  • Minimize water demand for revegetation (e.g., use native species)
  • Employ best management practices for stormwater

4. Reduces, Reuses and Recycles Material and Waste

  • Minimize consumption of virgin materials
  • Minimize waste generation
  • Use recycled products and local materials
  • Segregate and reuse or recycle materials, products, and infrastructure (e.g., soil, construction and demolition debris, buildings)

5. Optimizes Future Land Use and Protects Ecosystems

  • Integrate anticipated site use or reuse plans into the cleanup strategy.
  • Minimize areas requiring activity or use limitations (e.g., destroy or remove contaminant sources)
  • Minimize unnecessary soil and habitat disturbance or destruction
  • Use native species to support habitat
  • Minimize noise and lighting disturbance

6. Optimizes Sustainable Management Practices During Stewardship

  • Maximize long term system performance through periodic evaluation, maintenance and optimization
  • Minimize energy use, material consumption, and waste generation from sampling and monitoring procedures
  • Ensure clear responsibility and implementation processes for monitoring and maintaining all engineered and institutional controls

Corporate Water Footprinting Conference

The 2nd annual Corporate Water Footprinting conference and exhibition will take place December 2-3, 2009 in San Francisco, California.

Corporate Water Footprinting will outline the risks and opportunities water poses to business and offer practical advice on mapping and reducing water consumption in products across the supply chain. As well as discussing new methodologies and standards for water footprinting the event will examine how companies are addressing water issues at a strategic level including: corporate engagement on water policy, collective action on water issues, unravelling the water-energy nexus, the development of water policy and regulation, the growing interest of water to the investment community, and corporate engagement with NGOs and activists on water issues.

The conference will include:

  • Case studies from corporate leaders in water management and efficiency
  • The latest methodologies and standards for water footprinting
  • New water policy and regulation development, and how companies are getting involved
  • Water stakeholder engagement strategies
  • The potential impact of the "human right to water"
  • Individual sessions on water market development, frameworks for strategic water management and the water-energy nexus

Expert speakers include:

  • Robert Barbieri, Global Environmental Project Manager, Diageo
  • Dan Bena, Director of Sustainability, Health, Safety and Environment, PepsiCo International
  • Elissa Loughman, Environmental Analyst, Patagonia
  • Matti Rihko, Chief Executive Officer, Raisio
  • Kirstin Thorne, Corporate Advisor, Global Issues and Policy, Chevron
  • Alex McIntosh, Director of Corporate Citizenship, Nestle Waters North America
  • Tom Cooper, Corporate Water Programs Manager, Intel Corporation
  • Debra Vernon, Manager, Corporate Responsibility, California American Water
  • Jonah Schein, Marketing Specialist, WaterSense Program, EPA
  • Kasey D. Schimke, Assistant Director, Legislative Affairs Office, California Department of Water Resources
  • Adam Krantz, Managing Director, Government and Public Affairs, National Association of Clean Water Agencies

To download the full event brochure click here. To register click here.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Green Engineering Principles

The 12 Principles of Green Engineering, courtesy of the ACS Green Chemistry Institute®:

  1. Inherent Rather Than Circumstantial: Designers need to strive to ensure that all materials and energy inputs and outputs are as inherently nonhazardous as possible.
  2. Prevention Instead of Treatment: It is better to prevent waste than to treat or clean up waste after it is formed.
  3. Design for Separation: Separation and purification operations should be designed to minimize energy consumption and materials use.
  4. Maximize Efficiency: Products, processes, and systems should be designed to maximize mass, energy, space, and time efficiency.
  5. Output-Pulled Versus Input-Pushed: Products, processes, and systems should be "output pulled" rather than "input pushed" through the use of energy and materials.
  6. Conserve Complexity: Embedded entropy and complexity must be viewed as an investment when making design choices on recycle, reuse, or beneficial disposition.
  7. Durability Rather Than Immortality: Targeted durability, not immortality, should be a design goal.
  8. Meet Need, Minimize Excess: Design for unnecessary capacity or capability (e.g., "one size fits all") solutions should be considered a design flaw.
  9. Minimize Material Diversity: Material diversity in multicomponent products should be minimized to promote disassembly and value retention.
  10. Integrate Material and Energy Flows: Design of products, processes, and systems must include integration and interconnectivity with available energy and materials flows.
  11. Design for Commercial "Afterlife": Products, processes, and systems should be designed for performance in a commercial "afterlife."
  12. Renewable Rather Than Depleting: Material and energy inputs should be renewable rather than depleting.

Reference: Anastas, P.T., and Zimmerman, J.B., Design through the Twelve Principles of Green Engineering, Env. Sci. and Tech., 37, 5, 94A-101A, 2003.

Eat Real in Oakland - August 28-30, 2009

Street food, fresh summer fruits and veggies, live music, handcrafted local beers, ice cream sold from the back of a bicycle. Find it all and more at Eat Real, a free festival, taking place August 28-30 at Jack London Square. In between the good eats, enjoy the non-stop entertainment and activities that include chef demonstrations, dance performances, bands, films, food competitions, and lots more, for free.

Proceeds from the event benefit People’s Grocery, La Cocina, and Community Alliance with Family Farmers, organizations promoting access to healthy and affordable food, entrepreneurship, and economic development.

About Eat Real Festival:
Founded in 2008, Eat Real Festival is a social venture created to inspire eaters to choose tasty, healthy, good food. Through a vibrant, local festival in Oakland, and a focus on delicious and sustainable street food, Eat Real puts eaters in contact with the real people -- the farmers, chefs, and producers -- who make our food.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Green Zebra Opens Environmental Action Center

Green Zebra recently opened their Environmental Action Center (EAC) in Crocker Galleria (50 Post Street between Montgomery and Kearny) in downtown San Francisco.

What you'll find at the EAC:
  • Determine the solar capacity of your roof and how to have a solar system installed for no money down
  • Discover how much water (and money) you can save by collecting rainwater
  • Learn about less-toxic products and techniques to keep pests under control in your garden
  • Try out a few solar and carbon footprint calculators
  • Take home informational brochures and wallet guides with information you need to make choices that are healthier for you and the planet
  • Demystify what types of waste belong in each of your colored garbage bins
  • Learn how to compost
  • Drop off your old cell phones, used printer cartridges, and household batteries
  • Climb aboard the electricity making machine to pedal off a few calories and get a feel for how much human power it takes to light a bulb, play a radio, or run a fan
You'll also find 2009 Green Zebra guides for San Francisco and the Peninsula/Silicon Valley priced at $15 (40% off retail). Each edition acts as a green business directory that describes and presents thousands of dollars in savings from more than 150 local green companies.

The official launch party is Thursday, August 27, from 5:30 to 8:00 pm. There will be music, eco-friendly cocktails, and local, organic snacks. There is no cost to attend, but an RSVP is requested to events[at]remakelounge[dot]com.

ASTM Sustainability Committee Meeting

The ASTM Sustainability Committee (E60) will have their semi-annual meeting October 18-22, 2009, at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta, Georgia.

ASTM staff will provide several training sessions on various subjects (including "Developing and Revising an ASTM Standard" and a workshop on Life Cycle Assessment) to educate and assist officers, members, and non-members of ASTM committees.

One must be registered to attend ASTM Meetings. The cut-off for ASTM preregistration is Wednesday, October 14, 2009. Onsite registration may be available after this date.

RecycleBank Motivates Recyclers With Rewards

New York-based RecycleBank tracks how much you recycle, and awards points that you can redeem for rewards such as groceries. The result: RecycleBank has more than doubled recycling rates in every community that has deployed its program.

According to RecycleBank Co-Founder and CEO, Ron Gonen, "Our goal at RecycleBank is to progress societies' view of the product lifecycle from linear to cyclical. Since the discarding of product in a linear lifecycle destroys value, then the reuse and recycling of that product should create value. I believe that in order for a cyclical product lifecycle to be created and remain sustainable, value must be passed back to the entity, households, who are responsible for providing each product a cyclical lifecycle."

As part of its contract with cities, RecycleBank gives every home a special container with a chip embedded in it. When a recycling truck picks up the container, the weight is electronically recorded and translates into RecycleBank points (1 lb of recycled materials = 2.5 RecycleBank Points). Participants can use the points at retailers such as and Whole Foods.

When cities and universities asked for a solution to help increase recycling among campuses and apartments (where a household-based curbside program wasn't possible), RecycleBank developed and now offers Kiosk recycling.

In Wilmington, Delaware, for example, RecycleBank has diverted 33 percent of the city's waste into recycling, saving it $1.5 million a year. RecycleBank gets a portion of the city's savings, and citizens get paid to recycle.

Free Workshop Explains the Financial Side of Doing Good

SOCAP09 (Social Capital Markets 2009) is being held in San Francisco September 1-3, 2009. If the $1,195 registration fee is beyond your budget but you are interested in intersection of money and meaning, don’t miss the free pre-conference workshop being offered on September 1 from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm by Social Venture Technology Group. SOCAP09 registrants and non-registrants are welcome.

The target audience for the workshop is leaders from companies, NGOs, foundations, and investors in charge of allocating funds who want a better understanding of the tools available to measure and quantify the positive social, economic, and environmental impacts of their investments.

The interactive workshop will cover how to set impact goals, determine the right metrics to track, understand how to track them over time, and communicate results for the greatest influence. SVT Group will also share strategies for managing the information successfully, and discuss the latest tools and trends in impact measurement.

New Benchmark for CO2?

In an interview with Agence France Presse, Rajendra Pachauri, the UN's top climate scientist and head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, stated the following when asked if he supported calls to keep atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations below 350 parts per million (ppm):

"As chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) I cannot take a position because we do not make recommendations, but as a human being I am fully supportive of that goal. What is happening, and what is likely to happen, convinces me that the world must be really ambitious and very determined at moving toward a 350 target."

The IPCC's last report, which came out in the winter of 2007, didn't actually set a target for CO2, but it was widely interpreted as backing a goal of 450 ppm, a number that many environmental groups and governments (including the Obama administration) have since embraced.

Posted here, here, and here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

How Green Is It?

Throughout August, All Things Considered (a program on National Public Radio) will examine some of the things Americans are doing — and buying — to help the environment, and if those steps really are as "green" as they seem.

Topics will include:
  • Green cars and 'Cash for Clunkers' program
  • Bring your own bags
  • Green electricity and renewable energy
  • Energy Star certification
  • Replacement windows and weather-stripping
  • Bamboo
Podcasts and transcripts available here.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Get The Lead Out

AstroTurf settles an environmental lawsuit with California over lead used to keep the artificial turf green.
Marc Lifsher, Los Angeles Times, August 15, 2009

The company that makes AstroTurf, a pioneering brand of artificial grass, has settled an environmental lawsuit with the state of California, agreeing to eliminate almost all lead from its product.

In the settlement, AstroTurf said it would pay $60,000 for testing of artificial playing fields at day care centers, schools and public facilities, the state said.

AstroTurf will also send warnings to California customers who bought artificial grass in the last five years and create a website to provide information on safe maintenance and testing procedures.

AstroTurf will pay $170,000 in civil penalties, grants, and attorney fees as part of the agreement with Attorney General Jerry Brown and two other plaintiffs, Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich and Solano County District Attorney David W. Paulson. California decided to take action against the three companies after it received a legal notice from an advocacy group, Oakland-based Center for Environmental Health, that it intended to file a private lawsuit on the lead-warning issue.

Two other companies named in the lawsuit, Beaulieu Group of Dalton, Georgia, and FieldTurf USA Inc. of Calhoun, Georgia, have not settled but are in talks with the attorney general's office. Beaulieu said it has voluntarily reformulated its turf products.

Read the complete story here:,0,157632.story

Friday, August 14, 2009

Help Plant A Tree

Soul of the City, an initiative of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, is partnering with Urban Releaf on Saturday, August 22, to plant 50 trees along West MacArthur Boulevard, between West Street and San Pablo Avenue.

Planting trees is one of the best ways to clean the air, beautify the neighborhood, and raise the standard of living. They will also pick up trash, plant flowers, and talk with community members about the importance of clean air and caring for the neighborhood.

Volunteers are welcome. The fun begins at 10:00 am. Refreshments and entertainment will be provided.

RSVP here, and if you can't volunteer your time, but still want to help, donate a few bucks here.

StopWaste.Org Wins Award For Outstanding Waste Prevention Program

Innovative Campaign Cuts Transport Packaging Waste and Cost
StopWaste Partnership, Oakland, California, August 12, 2009

Last week, StopWaste.Org's "Use Reusables" campaign won the 2009 award for Best Waste Prevention Program from the California Resource Recovery Association (CRRA). The award honors innovative and effective initiatives that help move California closer to its sustainability goals.

The "Use Reusables" campaign helps companies throughout the Bay Area streamline and "green" their supply chain by replacing cardboard boxes, wood pallets, and other short-lived transport packaging materials with reusable alternatives. Bay Area companies who have already made the switch to reusables have saved millions of dollars in packaging expenses and disposal costs.

StopWaste is currently expanding the program throughout the region to help even more businesses realize the economic, environmental and supply chain efficiencies of reusable transport packaging, and will be offering free training workshops later this year.

For more information about the "Use Reusables" campaign please visit

More Open Space Saved

Conservationists secure rest of Franklin Canyon
Richard Procter, San Francisco Chronicle, August 14, 2009

The Muir Heritage Land Trust signed an amended agreement this month that adds 60 acres to the 423 acres of Franklin Canyon the group purchased last year. Franklin Canyon, located in Hercules, has been the target of development projects on several occasions because of the terrain's flat and building-friendly nature.

The land trust had been in continuous negotiation with the property owners, a consortium of investors, since the initial agreement was signed last year. The continued negotiations were a result of the extreme desirability of the final 60 acres, which had been identified as the most easy-to-develop part of the property.

The final acreage was purchased for $830,000. The group will have until June to raise $2.6 million to complete the transaction.

Read the complete story here:

Navy Releases Sustainable Remediation Fact Sheet

The NAVFAC Naval Facilities Engineering Service Center Optimization Work Group has released a Sustainable Environmental Remediation Fact Sheet.

The Fact Sheet presents a definition of sustainable environmental remediation (SER), example SER metrics, an example environmental footprint methodology, and suggestions on how to reduce environmental footprints.

A member of the group says it continues to work on other sustainability guidance and products in an effort to bring awareness to sustainable practices throughout all phases of remediation.

Environmental Issues Forum

Learning How to Live Sustainably in the 21st Century
Wednesday, August 19, 2009 - 5:30 to 7:30 pm
Healthy Oakland, 2580 San Pablo Avenue, Oakland

The Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Environmental Issues Forum will work to educate and empower residents and community leaders. Hear from environmental organization leaders about their programs and services.

Speakers include:
  • Kemba Shakur, Urban Releaf
  • Rebecca Parnes, Waste Management
  • Tom Guarino, PG&E
  • Cookie Robles-Wong, Keep Oakland Beautiful
  • Commissioner Margaret Gordon, West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project
  • Starr Britt, Oakland Progress Project
For more information, email staff[at]bwopa[dot]org.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Superfund Site to Become Climate Change Think Tank

San Francisco and the United Nations partner on global warming center
Heather Knight, San Francisco Chronicle, July 30, 2009

San Francisco's Hunters Point Shipyard will be the future home of a UN-sponsored think tank to study solutions to global warming and other environmental crises plaguing the planet.

The 80,000-square-foot United Nations Global Compact Center will include office space for academics and scientists, an incubator to foster green tech start-ups, and a conference center. The center is expected to cost $20 million. Lennar Corp., the developer partnering with the city to rebuild large swaths of the shipyard and Candlestick Point, will donate the land and infrastructure. The city hopes the remainder of the funds will come from corporate sponsorship, state and federal grants, and foundation money.

The partnership between San Francisco and the United Nations dates to June 26, 1945, when the UN Charter was signed at the city's War Memorial Veterans Building. Four years ago, mayors from around the world gathered at City Hall to sign the UN Global Compact, a set of 21 urban environmental accords. San Francisco and Milwaukee are the only two American cities that signed the compact.

Read the complete story here:

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Some State Parks Will Close

Update: New post on SFist (inlcuding state budget fact sheet) :

About 50 state parks could be shuttered, budget report says

Shane Goldmacher, Los Angeles Times Greenspace Blog, July 23, 2009

About 50 state parks could close as a result of budget cuts that the state Legislature will consider later today, according to an Assembly report prepared for lawmakers.

Legislators are preparing to vote on an $8 million reduction in state park funds. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had earlier proposed a cut of $70 million, which would have shuttered some 220 parks, but lawmakers rejected that plan.

"It’s a certainty some parks will close with these reductions," said Roy Stearns, a spokesperson for the Department of Parks and Recreation. "What we don’t know is what parks and where."

Stearns, whose department will prioritize which parks remain open, said those with the lowest attendance would be the most likely to close. Stearns said the department would also consider geography "so we don’t unnecessarily hurt any area." He said that it was too early to "know if that’s a reasonable number…. It could be 30." The final tally could depend of potential support from local communities, the federal government, businesses and the public.

The Schwarzenegger administration stressed that it is "working on ways like public-private partnerships to keep as many open as possible," said Lisa Page, a spokesperson for the governor.

Original post here:

And, more in the San Francisco Chronicle, July 25, 2009:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Rising Tides: Are We Ready?

On July 27, 2009, City Visions radio program on KALW (97.1 FM) presented, "Rising Tides: Is San Francisco Prepared for Rising Sea Levels?" Representatives of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), the Pacific Institute, and others discussed plans to adapt to or mitigate sea-level rise in the Bay Area.

Some scientists predict that in the coming century or even sooner, sea levels in the San Francisco Bay could climb 55 inches beyond today's high tide. The rising sea level threatens to overtake the financial district, San Francisco airport, the wetlands, and more.

The BCDC recently sponsored a design competition to address the effects of sea-level rise in San Francisco Bay, and the one of the winners of that competition, Lee Stickles, was on the show, with some interesting ideas that address the southeast San Francisco shoreline around Yosemite Slough.

You can listen to the program at

Port of Oakland Diesel Truck Program

Oakland port program to clean up trucks, air
Kelly Zito, San Francisco Chronicle, July 28, 2009

Air quality regulators are taking steps to reduce diesel particulates in a neighborhood where increasing cases of asthma, chronic lung disease, and cancer have sounded the alarm about the long-term health effects of heavy industry.

On Tuesday, representatives from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, US Environmental Protection Agency, California Air Resources Board, and the Port of Oakland will announce a $22 million program designed to replace and retrofit about 1,000 of the approximately 2,000 diesel trucks that service the Port.

About 800 trucks will be outfitted with specially designed particulate filters and 200 more trucks will be replaced. Officials say the project should cut diesel truck emissions by about 85 percent at the port.

Read the complete article here:

Friday, July 24, 2009

Food Waste In --> Clean Water Out

Food waste helps power wastewater plant
Kelly Zito, San Francisco Chronicle, July 24, 2009

Under an innovative program touted as the first of its kind in the nation, the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) collects about 100 tons of food scraps from restaurants and grocery stores each week, speeds up the decomposition process, and uses the resulting methane gases to fuel the energy-hungry pumps and pipelines at its 49-acre wastewater treatment plant. Leftover scraps are turned into compost.

If EBMUD hits its long-term goal of processing 100 to 150 tons of food waste each day, district officials hope to begin selling a steady, sizable amount of renewable energy to Pacific Gas and Electric Co.

"This is a great opportunity, especially since our primary focus is public health and environment," said David Williams, director of wastewater at the utility. "Right now, we take a lot of carbon out of the ground and put it out into the air. In this case you're taking carbon that's already here and getting the energy out of it. That's a great thing."

The US Environmental Protection Agency, which awarded EBMUD $50,000 to study the food waste program, said it is the first wastewater system of its kind in the country. Williams expects more utilities to follow, given that treating wastewater consumes a huge amount of energy and that many facilities already have much of the necessary equipment.

Read the complete story here:

Monday, July 20, 2009

Turning Waste Into Energy

Onion company is one of a growing number of businesses that use their waste to produce electricity.
Tiffany Hsu, Los Angeles Times, July 17, 2009

Steve Gill recently began using juice from his onion crop to create energy to run his refrigerators and lighting, slicing $700,000 annually off his electric bill and saving $400,000 a year on disposal costs at his 14-acre plant in Oxnard. Gill figures the $9.5 million system will pay for itself in less than six years while eliminating up to 30,000 tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions a year.

"It's a great sustainability story, but it was first a business decision to solve a waste problem," said Gill, 59, who co-owns the company with his brother David. "But in doing so, we solved a lot of environmental problems too."

Gills Onions is one of a small but growing cadre of US companies generating their own electricity on site with waste from their production processes. In addition to plant material, firms are using a variety of feedstocks, including animal manure, vegetable oil, whey -- even beer.

Farmers and processors in California's $37 billion agricultural industry are looking for ways to save money and reduce their environmental footprint, said Sonia Salas, science and technology manager for the Western Growers Association. "Many growers want technology that helps them handle waste," she said. "This is a concept that other operations can definitely use."

Read the complete story here:,0,5226835.story

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sustainable Remediation White Paper Now Available

How do we fix the environment without causing more damage in the process?
PRNewswire-USNewswire, New York, July 14, 2009

The Sustainable Remediation Forum (SURF) has issued the first comprehensive, independent assessment of sustainable remediation -- a movement to encourage environmental clean-ups that minimize carbon emissions, conserve fossil fuels and still remove potentially dangerous contaminants from soil and water.

The Sustainable Remediation Forum White Paper is available from SURF and has been published in a special summer 2009 issue of Remediation Journal. Northgate president, Deni Chambers, and Sustainability Coordinator, Maile Smith, are contributing authors on the document.

Former EPA Administrator and New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman called the white paper's release "a watershed event in public policy deliberations about environmental remediation."

"For the first time, scientists, regulators and responsible parties are questioning whether a clean-up that releases tons of carbon emissions into the air in order to remove a few pounds of contaminants from the soil provides a net environmental benefit to the public," Whitman said. "It's crucial that 21st century environmental clean-ups burn less fuel, emit less greenhouse gas and still protect human health and the environment."

Read the complete press release here, and on CNBC.