Thursday, February 26, 2009

CEQA Guidelines for Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Senate Bill 97 mandates the development of California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) guidelines "for the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions or the effects of greenhouse gas emissions."

The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR), the California Resources Agency, Cal EPA, and the California Air Resources Board have issued a technical advisory containing informal guidance for addressing climate change in CEQA documents.

How does this affect you and your clients?

Many development, redevelopment, and remediation projects are subject to CEQA.
- a CEQA project is one that requires discretionary approval by a government agency

Affected agencies must now address greenhouse gases (GHGs) in addition to other environmental issues and impacts.
-Identify all the GHG emission sources
-Calculate/estimate GHG emissions
-Identify mitigation measures and alternative methods/approaches
-Identify preferred mitigation strategies

OPR is required to prepare, develop, and transmit the guidelines to the Resources Agency on or before July 1, 2009, and the Resources Agency must certify and adopt the guidelines on or before January 1, 2010.

Visit the OPR website to view the Preliminary Draft CEQA Guideline Amendments and submitted written comments.

New LEED AP in the House!

Northgate congratulates Axel Rieke for recently passing his LEED AP exam!

LEED Professional Accreditation distinguishes building professionals with the knowledge and skills to successfully steward the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification process. LEED Accredited Professionals (APs) have demonstrated a thorough understanding of green building practices and principles and the LEED Rating System.

LEED is a third-party certification program and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings. The LEED Professional Accreditation program is administered by the Green Building Certification Institute, established with the support of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

TransLink Card Now Available

Consider getting a TransLink card to ease your daily commute.

The TransLink card is now available for use on Muni, AC Transit, Dumbarton Express, and Golden Gate Transit and Ferry. TransLink is not currently accepted on BART or CalTrain, but eventually will be used on all transit systems in the nine-county Bay Area.

Your TransLink card carries a pre-paid balance, so you can forget about scrounging in the sofa cushions for bus money, and it provides protection of your balance if your card is lost, stolen or damaged. There is no fee for a TransLink card if you set up Autoload at the time you order the card online.

You can order a TransLink card here:

...and don't let this be you!
holding pen

Friday, February 13, 2009

Oakland's Green Building Requirements

Oakland - Building a Sustainable Future

The City of Oakland is considering mandatory Green Building requirements for private development. Green Building emphasizes maximizing efficiency and reducing consumption, and will mitigate the negative environmental and health impacts on many people living and working in Oakland.

A public hearing has been scheduled:
Thursday, February 19, 2009
5:30 to 7:30 pm
Oakland City Hall
Hearing Room 1

For more information:
Heather Klein, Planning and Zoning Division

Other Green Building requirements in the Bay Area:

Oakland already has Green Building requirements for applicable city building and traditional public works projects, setting LEED Silver standards for city buildings, and has adopted Green Building guidelines for private sector building. The city maintains a Green Building Resource Center to provide recycling and green building education and assistance.

Effective November 2008, Chapter 13C of the San Francisco Building Code requires new buildings constructed in the city to meet green building standards, which were developed by the Green Building Task Force.

San Francisco's priority permitting program provides expedited permit review in the Planning Department, Department of Building Inspection, and Department of Public Works for LEED Gold projects.

All San Francisco municipal projects (new construction and major renovations over 5,000 square feet) are required to achieve LEED Silver certification.

The city of San Francisco is banned from purchasing or using tropical hardwoods, virgin redwood, and wood treated with arsenic-based preservatives.

The City of Berkeley does not have green building standards, but requires that projects that require a Use Permit or Administrative Use Permit and involve demolition or construction, to consult with a green building expert provided at no charge by the Berkeley’s Best Builders Program. Applicable projects may also require completion of a Green Building Checklist, an Energy Conservation Analysis, or specific conservation measures.

All Alameda County projects must meet at least LEED Silver rating or equivalent. Traditional Public Works projects (e.g., pump stations, flood control improvements, roads, bridges, sidewalks, etc.) are exempted.

Alameda County projects with a total estimated construction costs exceeding $100,000 must divert at least 50% of debris from landfill via reuse or recycling. Traditional Public Works projects must also divert 75% of asphalt, concrete, and earth debris from landfill via reuse or recycling.

In San Jose, commercial and industrial buildings that are 25,000 square feet or more must meet LEED Silver standards. Residential developments of 10 or more units must meet basic LEED certification standards or achieve 50 points under the GreenPoint rating system. Housing structures that are 75 feet high or taller are required to meet basic LEED standards. In 2012, commercial and industrial buildings of 10,000 square feet or more and residential buildings 75 feet high or taller must meet LEED Silver standards.

Structures 10,000 square feet or more that are built by the city of San Jose or the San Jose Redevelopment Agency are required to meet LEED Silver status.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Cities and Counties: Clean Up Your Creeks...Or Else

Water board moves to clean up Bay, waterways
Jane Kay, SF Chronicle, February 12, 2009

The San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board voted Wednesday to designate most of San Francisco Bay's shoreline and two dozen tributaries as "impaired" under the federal Clean Water Act.

The vote is the first step in putting counties and cities on notice that the U.S. EPA could impose legal requirements and fines if they don't get rid of the trash, however, the listing could also bring resources to aid in the cleanup.

The list of sites recommended for cleanup - including Strawberry Creek in Berkeley, Guadalupe River in Santa Clara County, and the entire central and lower San Francisco Bay shorelines - will go to the State Water Resources Control Board and the EPA for concurrence. If approved, the EPA would require the region to start regulating trash as an urban pollutant or face heavy fines.

Read the complete story here:

Read the RWQCB Staff Report "Evaluation of Water Quality Conditions for the San Francisco Bay Region here:

Climate Change and Water Resources

On January 29, 2008 the Santa Clara Valley Water District's (SCVWD) Board of Directors hosted a special meeting and work study session to explore climate change, its potential local impacts, and policy implications.

One of the outcomes was the adoption of a resolution stating that the SCVWD will "apply understanding of climate change and climate change impacts as appropriate in water supply plans, flood management project plans, asset management and infrastructure plans, CEQA assessments and EIRs, energy management plans, business plans, and strategic plans". It also states that the SCVWD "will strive to minimize its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, work with the community to reduce its GHG emissions related to utilization and management of water resources and enhance community understanding of climate change".

They have posted materials from their meeting here:

REDUCE, REUSE, and if you must, recycle

Recycling is not the end-all, be-all in sustainable consuming.

According to Earth911:
- a trillion sheets of paper are tossed within a day of being printed, equating to 90 million trees even if all that paper were 30% post-consumer recycled paper
- reducing the margins from 1.5-inches to 1-inch can save the average office worker 475 pages a year, even more if you can reduce your margins to 0.75-inch

Consider these three simple questions each time you prepare to click Control-P:
  • Do I need to keep this for more than a few hours or days?
  • Does this really require a paper copy, or can it stay on my hard drive?
  • Has this already been printed by someone else?
Also please consider adding a footnote to your emails encouraging others to kick their printing habit. Here is some simple sample text:
Please consider the environment before printing this page.

And here's an idea of something to print on the back of that page you just printed and no longer need: a suggestion card to leave with your bill at your favorite restaurant to encourage them to "go green":

Green Stimulus

Environmental Defense Fund
February 11, 2009

Summarized by EDF, these are the primary ways how green initiatives fared in the stimulus bill:
  • By far the largest funding ever for clean energy and energy efficiency
  • The Manufacturing Extension Partnership will get funding
  • High-speed rail will get $8 billion dollars
  • Very large investment in transit ($8.4 billion); includes funds for new construction of commuter and light rail, modernizing existing transit systems, and purchasing buses and equipment to needed to increase public transportation and improve intermodal and transit facilities (states have 787 ready-to-go transit projects totaling about $16 billion)

Read more from EDF here:

What Will it Take to Make the Bay Area the Electric Vehicle Capital of the US?

In November 2008, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, and San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed announced a plan to position the region’s economic and environmental future around electric transportation. They hope to make they Bay area the so-called "Electric Vehicle Capital of the US".

City Visions Radio - Mondays from 7:00-8:00 pm on KALW 91.7 San Francisco - discusses the plans to make the Bay Area more friendly to electric cars.

Guests on the February 9, 2009 show included:

Here's a link to the program:

And learn more about electric vehicles here: