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.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Preliminary GHG Reduction Targets Topic of July 7th Oakland City Council Meeting

Consideration of preliminary planning targets for development of the draft Oakland Energy and Climate Action Plan (ECAP) is scheduled on the Oakland City Council agenda for July 7th, 2009. The Staff recommendation and accompanying report for this item have been posted to the City's website.

Agendas and additional information about past and upcoming meetings of the Oakland City Council and Council Committees are available on the City's website. The July 7th Oakland City Council meeting is scheduled to begin at 6:00 pm.

For those planning to attend, please see the posted meeting agenda for further information on when the ECAP item is likely to be considered during the meeting.

EPA Awards StopWaste $35,000 to Promote Reusable Packaging

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded $35,000 to Oakland, California-based StopWaste.Org to expand their "Use Reusables" campaign, which teaches businesses how to reduce costs and improve their environmental performance by replacing limited-use pallets, boxes, and other transport packaging materials with durable, reusable alternatives.

The EPA grant enables StopWaste.Org to partner with agencies around the Bay Area to bring the campaign’s core element — a free, 3-hour, hands-on training workshop — to their communities. The grant was awarded through the EPA’s competitive program for innovative solid waste reduction projects.

The first workshop open to all Bay Area businesses takes place on Thursday, July 9, from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm at the GreenV Sustainable Center, 1 Chestnut Avenue in South San Francisco. For this event, the "Use Reusables" campaign is partnering with co-sponsor and workshop host, San Mateo County RecycleWorks, a program of San Mateo County’s Public Works Department that provides resources to promote environmentally responsible practices.

More information here:

Find It, Fix It, Sustain It Week

Southern California Education and Research Center
UCLA, UC Irvine - Continuing Education and Outreach
August 25-27, 2009

A three-day workshop has been developed that offers a unique opportunity to learn both the theory and practice of sustainable environmental management, including the engineering, scientific, legal, political, and ethical dimensions of environmental sustainability.

Day 1 Overview - A rigorous analysis of scientific, legal, political and ethical issues will be conducted. Definitions and trade-offs between Brownfield and Greenfield development will be discussed. Innovative geo-chemical & geo-physical site investigation tools are now available to optimize the selective application of targeted remedial remedies in contaminant source areas. Principles of chemistry data validation will be reviewed.

Day 2 Overview - Cutting edge onsite soil & groundwater remediation solutions will be discussed, including how to include sustainability principles and practices into remedial decision making, remedy optimization, and remedy changes. Sustainable remediation incorporates a judicious evaluation of limited resources when selecting and implementing remedies to maximize the net environmental, societal, and economic benefits of a cleanup action.

Day 3 Overview - Day 3 will cover performance oriented regulation, an alternative to "command and control" compliance, whereby specific environmental performance goals, such as a reduction in the pollution associated with a process, is specified by the regulation and each facility determines the best method to achieve this goal. Proactive beyond compliance Sustainable Environmental Management Systems can form the basis for the format of such a plan.

Read more here:

International Conference on Green Remediation: Environment - Energy - Economics

International Conference on Green Remediation, June 15-17, 2010, in Amherst, Massachusetts

The conference will address the full range of environmental, energy, and economic aspects of green and sustainable remediation, taking into account the energy requirements of treatment systems, air emissions, water use requirements, and impacts on water resources, land and ecosystem use and impacts, energy use and renewables, material consumption, reuse, and waste generation.

Abstracts are encouraged in all areas of green and sustainable remediation, from basic to applied research, from case studies to demonstration projects.

Potential topics of interest include but are not limited to the following:

* Sustainable Remediation Technologies
* Green Cleanups (e.g., low impact design, clean construction)
* Greening Brownfields
* Sustainable Site Redevelopment
* Life Cycle Analysis
* Renewable Energy Projects on Contaminated Sites
* Ecological Revitalization
* Green Nanotechnology for Site Remediation
* Water/Energy Use and Efficiency
* Process and Site Optimization
* Sustainable Reuse
* Measurement and Assessment Techniques
* Best Management Practices
* Decision Support Tools
* Cost and Performance Case Studies
* Global Perspectives on Sustainable Remediation
* Policy and Regulatory Issues

Deadline for platform presentations is November 1, 2009.
Abstracts will be accepted online at beginning mid-August 2009.

For more information, visit

Ray Anderson on the Business Logic of Sustainability

TED Talks -
Riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world

The founder of Interface, Ray Anderson has become an innovative ground-breaker of sustainable business thought. Interface has increased sales and doubled profits while turning the traditional "take/make/waste" industrial system on its head. In a gentle, understated way, Ray Anderson shares a powerful vision for sustainable commerce.

Watch the video here.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Adopt-A-Spot - Update 1

Event 1, June 24, 2009

Our first encounter with our newly adopted spot was a success. Northgate volunteers - Brendan Mulholland, Josh Otis, Axel Rieke, Maile Smith, and Ted Splitter - raked, swept, and picked up trash on three median planters near the intersection of Broadway and 15th in downtown Oakland. The work was gratifying, and made safer by the bright, new traffic cones and safety vests provided by the City of Oakland.

Another volunteer opportunity will be scheduled soon. In the meantime, step outside and admire our little slice of nature right here in downtown. And don't be shy about picking up a cigarette butt or two.

View Northgate's Adopted Spot in a larger map.


As both Berkeley and Oakland debate their downtown plans, there is growing recognition that the fight against global warming requires greater urban density.
Robert Gammon, East Bay Express, July 1, 2009

Environmentalists who think globally say suburban sprawl and the destruction of rural farmland must stop. But the lack of urban growth in Berkeley and in parts of Oakland during the past few decades also has contributed to suburban sprawl and long commutes. And all those freeways choked with cars are now the single biggest cause of greenhouse gas emissions in the region. Some activists who have fought developers for years are now embracing them and calling for so-called "smart growth" or "infill development" — dense urban housing near mass transit. They note that downtown Berkeley and Oakland, along with the major transportation corridors between the two cities, are nearly perfect for transit-oriented development.

Greenbelt Alliance, an environmental group that has been fighting suburban sprawl for decades, recently pinpointed the inner East Bay as one of the region's top potential growth areas. The group estimates that the inner East Bay, west of the hills, could accommodate at least 106,000 new housing units by 2035. The group based its estimate on data from the Association of Bay Area Governments and UC Berkeley's Institute of Urban and Regional Development.

But for the inner East Bay to grow the way it should, it will have to overcome the region's well-developed not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) sensibilities. In Berkeley and North Oakland, in particular, residents who view themselves as environmentalists have been blocking dense housing developments for decades. They have complained about traffic, overcrowding, and the potential destruction of neighborhood character.

In Berkeley, where NIMBY sentiment is especially strong, a group of developers and activists who advocate for smart growth sometimes refer to themselves as YIMBYs (Yes, In My Backyard). "Our goal is to shift the idea of what it means to be an environmentalist when living in a city, away from the protection of land to the more efficient use of land," explained Erin Rhoades, the volunteer executive director of Livable Berkeley. For several years, her group has been battling a small but very vocal coalition of city residents who simultaneously view themselves as green while staunchly opposing urban housing development.

There are far fewer NIMBYs in Oakland when it comes to downtown issues. The Oakland City Council is scheduled to debate its new downtown plan on July 7. In downtown Oakland, the biggest impediment to growth over the years hasn't been NIMBYism but crime. The widespread perception that downtown is dangerous has stymied development. But in recent years, Oakland's Uptown area, just north of downtown, has launched a comeback, particularly since the renovation of the historic Fox Theater.

Read the complete article in the East Bay Express.

Pesticide Restrictions in the SF Bay Area

EPA ready to settle Bay Area pesticide suit
Jane Kay, SF Chronicle, July 2, 2009

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed to formally evaluate the harmful effects of 74 pesticides on 11 endangered and threatened species in the San Francisco Bay Area over the next five years, and to impose interim restrictions on use of these pesticides in and adjacent to endangered species habitats.

The proposal stems from a settlement agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity, which sued the EPA in 2007 for violating the Endangered Species Act by registering and allowing the use of toxic pesticides in Bay Area endangered species habitats without determining whether or not the chemicals jeopardize those species’ existence.

The EPA is accepting comments on the proposed settlement agreement for 15 days, and then will make a decision whether or not to agree. A public copy of the agreement was not located on the EPA website.

Read the complete story in the Chronicle:

Read the Center's press release:

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

California Allowed to Raise Mileage Standards

California gets green light to set tougher mileage standards on new vehicles
Matthew B. Stannard, SF Chronicle, July 1, 2009

Federal officials on Tuesday cleared California to impose tough greenhouse gas limits on new motor vehicles that form the basis of new nationwide rules in 2012.

California has a history of setting environmental standards more rigorous than the federal government's since before 1970, and the Clean Air Act passed that year permits the state to continue to do so, providing it receives a waiver from the EPA.

The state law setting the new carbon dioxide standards, written by then-Assemblywoman Fran Pavley, passed in 2002, and the state sought an EPA waiver in 2005. But the EPA denied the waiver in 2007, saying it was important to have a national emissions standard and that a recently passed energy bill raising fuel economy standards was a better universal rule. In January, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson promised to review the waiver decision. On Tuesday, Jackson granted the California waiver.

The new national standards, which are still being developed, are due to take effect in 2012 and would include both fuel economy and greenhouse gas pollution standards. They would require an average fuel economy of 35.5 miles per gallon in 2016; current federal standards require 27.5 mpg for cars and 22.3 mpg for SUVs and light trucks. California's new rules will be followed by 13 other states - Arizona, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington - and the District of Columbia.

Read the complete story here: