The Contra Costa County Climate Leaders (4CL) program is a network assisting the county and its 19 cities to inform, support and encourage the measurement and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Through education and sharing of best practices we will ensure sustainable, healthy and livable cities.

May – June 2011

May/June 2011

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Funding

DOC Economic Development Administration Mitigation Opportunity

Department of Commerce’s (DOC) Economic Development Administration (EDA) helps communities establish a foundation for durable regional economies throughout the US. EDA generally allocates funds for the Global Climate Change Mitigation Incentive Fund (GCCMIF) to support projects that foster economic competitiveness while enhancing environmental quality. EDA anticipates that these funds will be used to advance the green economy through job creation, limiting dependence on fossil fuels, enhancing energy efficiency, curbing GHG emissions, and protecting natural systems. For more information, including regional contacts, go here.

DOE Weatherization Formula Grants

Department of Energy requests proposals for the Weatherization Assistance Program Formula Grant (WAP). The purpose of WAP is to increase the energy efficiency of dwellings owned or occupied by low-income persons, reduce residential expenditures, and improve health and safety. For planning purposes, grantees should proceed with their respective plans using the same funding level as the DOE 2010 appropriated funds. For more info, contact Meghaan Hampton or go here.

Local City News

City of Antioch Completes their Climate Action Plan!

The City of Antioch has completed both their Municipal and Community Climate Action Plans (CAP). After holding four community workshops for public input, the city has completed the plans and put them forward for review. Both the Municipal and Community CAPs are were approved by the City Council at the May 24th meeting. Both plans are available for you online.

Adaption Strategies for the San Francisco Bay Area

This report describes the expected impacts of climate change on the Bay Area, and includes recommendations for how local governments can start now to plan ahead and minimize our vulnerability to heat, water uncertainty and sea level rise. This report presents actionable strategies that will move the region forward. Read the report here.

Cash-Strapped California to Save Millions with PC Power Management

In September 2010, former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed AB 2408 into law,

Funding

DOC Economic Development Administration Mitigation Opportunity

Department of Commerce’s (DOC) Economic Development Administration (EDA) helps communities establish a foundation for durable regional economies throughout the US. EDA generally allocates funds for the Global Climate Change Mitigation Incentive Fund (GCCMIF) to support projects that foster economic competitiveness while enhancing environmental quality. EDA anticipates that these funds will be used to advance the green economy through job creation, limiting dependence on fossil fuels, enhancing energy efficiency, curbing GHG emissions, and protecting natural systems. For more information, including regional contacts, go here.

DOE Weatherization Formula Grants

Department of Energy requests proposals for the Weatherization Assistance Program Formula Grant (WAP). The purpose of WAP is to increase the energy efficiency of dwellings owned or occupied by low-income persons, reduce residential expenditures, and improve health and safety. For planning purposes, grantees should proceed with their respective plans using the same funding level as the DOE 2010 appropriated funds. For more info, contact Meghaan Hampton or go here.

Local City News

City of Antioch Completes their Climate Action Plan!

The City of Antioch has completed both their Municipal and Community Climate Action Plans (CAP). After holding four community workshops for public input, the city has completed the plans and put them forward for review. Both the Municipal and Community CAPs are were approved by the City Council at the May 24th meeting. Both plans are available for you online.

Adaption Strategies for the San Francisco Bay Area

This report describes the expected impacts of climate change on the Bay Area, and includes recommendations for how local governments can start now to plan ahead and minimize our vulnerability to heat, water uncertainty and sea level rise. This report presents actionable strategies that will move the region forward. Read the report here.

Cash-Strapped California to Save Millions with PC Power Management

In September 2010, former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed AB 2408 into law, launching an effort to consolidate the state’s data centers and save the government hundreds of millions of dollars per year through increased energy efficiency. Just over six months after that law went on the books, the state has already cut its energy use by enough to power 2,000 homes for a year. Read more here.

Other City News

New York City, NY Announces Health Department Air Quality Study Results

The comprehensive survey of street-level air quality in the five boroughs documents an immediate and substantial air quality improvement in Times Square after the creation of a pedestrian plaza, which was implemented as a part of PlaNYC. After the pedestrian plaza was created, traffic-related pollutants were substantially lower than measurements from the year before. The air survey and its findings show how NYC can apply good practices to improve the quality of life for New Yorkers across disciplines – in this case air quality, transportation planning, and public health. Learn more here.

Maine to Save Money through Energy Conservation

Renewable energy company Ameresco has signed an agreement with Maine’s largest city to provide energy conservation measures to a number of facilities. The $9.4 million project will include 30 municipal buildings and 15 public schools, and it has been estimated it will save the city $17 million over the 15-year project term. Read more here.

National Action Plan Offers Framework for Green Schools Initiatives

ICLEI, the U.S. Green Building Council, and the American Institute of Architects have released a five-point national action plan that local governments can use as a framework to develop and implement green schools initiatives. The major steps outlined are outlined in the plan and include engaging stakeholders, building community and celebrating successes. The report also provides a review of the benefits of green schools; a summary of local, state, and federal policy solutions; leadership profiles of green school advocates; and case studies from large cities and small communities. Local Leaders in Sustainability: A Special Report from Sundance is available free of charge here.

Legislation

Oregon Car-Sharing Bill Passes in the House

House Bill 3149, which would make it easier for Oregonians to share their cars with others, passed the House by a vote of 47-10. The bill would allow a car owner to rent out their car to friends or neighbors through a car-sharing service without fear of increased insurance rates or loss of policy. Vehicles sit idle 92% of the time. Peer-to-peer car sharing is a free-market concept that allows car owners to recoup costs of car ownership, while those without cars are able to rent a vehicle in their own neighborhood. Car sharing families drive less, less driving means less congestion and less pollution. Learn more here.

Legislation REQUIRED!

A recent report, “America’s Climate Choices”, was ordered by Congress several years ago to offer “action-oriented advice” on how the nation should be reacting to the potential consequences of climate change. The report was completed at a time when many political efforts have been stalled and the political mood on climate change had changed significantly from the time the committee was formed in 2009. Although the report characterizes climate change as a problem that urgently needs attention, it stops short of making highly specific policy prescriptions, leaving that to lawmakers. Learn more here.

Impacts

N.H. Town Looks to Adapt to Sea-level Rise

Seabrook, N.H., planning board, says rising sea levels are undeniable. A recent study recommended that Seabrook plan for an average sea level rise of 3 to 5 feet by the year 2100, and at least 1.5 feet by 2050. Planners and residents are taking action to adapt to the engulfing sea. The town will need to elevate its roads 2 to 5 feet to protect them from being flooded during storm surges. All water, sewer, gas, electric lines and other underground utilities will have to be elevated. Learn more about their preparation here.

NASA uses Satellites to Track Biological Impacts of Climate Change

Officials in NASA’s Earth Science Division are funding new research projects to see whether environmental data collected by satellites can be used to improve ecological models that predict the behavior of a species or ecosystem. This is the first time NASA has targeted research investigating the intersection of climate and biological studies. The studies will use long-term observations of Earth from space, including data on sea surface temperature, vegetation cover, and more. Learn more here.

Economics

Successful Businesses Consider Sustainability

A report, Corporate Sustainability: A Progress Report, surveyed 378 executives from industries across the globe on their businesses’ sustainability plans. It found that 62% of businesses have corporate sustainability plans. Only 5 percent of surveyed businesses said they had no plans to address sustainability issues, while the remainder said they were working on their plans. Governments need to design regulations that will encourage businesses to invest in sustainability and foster accurate measurements to verify environmental gains. Read the report here.

Green Infrastructure Guide

Green infrastructure (GI) is a network of decentralized stormwater management practices, such as green roofs, rain gardens and permeable pavement, that can capture and infiltrate rain where it falls, thus reducing stormwater runoff and improving the health of surrounding waterways. These practices deliver multiple ecological, economic and social benefits. The guide aims to inform decision-makers and planners about the multiple benefits of green infrastructure. It also seeks to guide communities in valuing the economic benefits of potential investments in these areas. See the guide here.

U.S. Solar Power Surges while Wind Power Stalls

Electricity generation from solar panels nearly doubled in the United States last year on favorable state and federal incentives, but the number of new wind installations dropped by half compared to prior years. Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada and New Jersey — all of which have programs to incentivize renewable energy — accounted for 64% of new U.S. solar capacity, according to a recent report. See the report here.

Upcoming events

The Clean Air Act and Global Warming

June 22, Berkeley

The Clean Air Act is the United States’ most important and successful law for controlling air pollution and, if used effectively, could reduce greenhouse gases to 350 parts per million, the level determined safe by climate scientists. The Obama administration began to use the Clean Air Act to limit carbon dioxide emissions this year, were questioned by Congress. Come learn about how the Clean Air Act works, the threats it faces, and how we can use it to protect our planet and our future. Learn more here.

3rd Annual Waste to Clean Energy Finance & Investment Summit

July 12-14, Newport Beach, CA

Meet and network with leading municipal landfill and waste water treatment operators, equity investors, utilities, government representatives, and technology and project developers at the 3rd Annual Summit. The event will offer the ideal venue for discussing the path forward to tackle the complexities of developing and financing the new generation of waste to energy. Learn more and register here.

Knowing Your Stuff: Life Cycle Assessment & Judging Environmental Claims

July 20, SacramentoAttend this discussion on the different methods and metrics used to measure the sustainability of products. Gwen Lauridson, Bentley Prince Street, will guide you through the basic principles of Life Cycle Assessments and Environmental Claims. Discover the basic steps of conducting a Life Cycle Assessment and how the results can be used to choose environmentally friendly products or to improve the environmental performance of a product over its life cycle. To learn more, or to register here.

Other

Americans Prefer Smart Growth Communities

In a recent study completed by the National Association of REALTORS®, Americans favor walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods, with 56% of respondents preferring smart growth neighborhoods over neighborhoods that require more driving between home, work and recreation. Around 80% of those surveyed would prefer to live in a single-family, detached home as long as it didn’t require a longer commute, but nearly 59% would choose a smaller home if it meant a commute time of 20 minutes or less. Learn more about the results of the survey here.

When Does Recycling and Composting Make the Biggest Difference?

A report prepared by the West Coast Climate and Materials Management Forum, an EPA-led partnership, identified the top ten materials in California, Oregon, and Washington with the greatest potential for reducing GHG emissions if diverted from landfill disposal through recycling and composting. See the list and full report here.