San Francisco Goes Green in a Big Way

San Francisco Climate Action Plan has ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals: a 20 percent reduction below 1990 levels by 2012. To meet these, each person who lives or works in San Francisco will need to cut almost 2 tons of carbon dioxide annually. The city program has set a mid-term goal of 10% by 2010.

Rather than dissect the forward of the plan which is now available on line, I wanted to tip my hat some of the organizations and business people who are on the active edge of creating a clean and healthy place to live.

1.Climate Action: The goal is to reduce carbon emission by 20% below the 1990's levels by 2012. This is a catch-all approach that will include low fuel/electric and bio fuel transportation. It will also include a pilot project to create a carbon tax and require all business to reduce carbon emission as much as possible.

a. Consider joining the Bicycle Coalition with more than 8000 members they are actively making our city more livable by promoting toxic free sustainable transportation. They do some wonderful things such as partnering with the YMCA for after school bike safety programs for middle school children. They also have a seniors program helping to create safer walkways and intersections.

b. Business Leaders: The city will need to capture the interest of the business community to adopt a carbon neutral way of doing business. Consider joining the Certified Green Building Professionals. Build It Green offers an intensive green building training program for key stakeholders including builders, architects, contractors, affordable housing advocates, real estate professionals.

In keeping with shameless plugs for those forward looking business leaders that are already on board, I had a conversation with kevin Wiley, co-founder and President of CitiScape Property Management Group. Kevin has a designated green Team, headed by Danielle Pittman whose job it is to reduce the carbon footprint using energy conservation, recycling, waste reduction, introducing green product implementations, and encouraging awareness. CitiScape is bringing a green awareness to its HOA's as it spreads the word. I think it would be a powerful thrust for the Mayor's program if all boards and HOA's require their business contacts be green and carbon neutral.

2. Renewable & Efficient Energy: The strategies include a voter improved solar panel subsidy that will effectively cut in half the cost of solar panels for homeowners. The idea is to double solar use, create hundreds of new green jobs and to begin to develop market efficiencies to reduce cost. Two programs of some note are:

a. PG&E Rebates: The utilities have some interest in seeing lower energy usage and are offering rebates for appliances and heating systems. has some useful articles on rebates and ways to cut your energy costs

b. San Francisco Public Utilities Commission rebates: They have two interesting programs designed to conserve water and save money. Apartment owners should pay special attention to this as water prices will double and triple in San Francisco to help you save water. They offer rebates on low flow toilets and washer and dryers.

c. They also offer a program where a water efficiency expert will come to your home or business and offer a free evaluation to help you conserve water and save money.

3. Clean Transportation: According to the 2008 SF Environmental proposal 51% of our CO2 emissions is transportation. I think the city has done a good job here. I would like to see more bicycle stalls and more electric and bio fuel buses. But, this city is a already a leader in clean air.

4. Green Building: Recent signature projects in San Francisco include Laguna Honda Hospital, which will save the City over $7 million in energy costs in the first 10 years of operation, as well as the major renovation of the California Academy of Sciences campus in Golden Gate Park. This is an amazing structure. Its the roof that i find incredible. Here is some description from Wired magazine which is really inspired. "It is a living roof: More than a lawn overhead, 1.7 million native plants insulate the roof, capture rainwater, and provide a 2.5-acre habitat for butter flies, hummingbirds, and other critters. And that nifty thatch is framed by 60,000 photo voltaic cells along the roof's perimeter."

5. Urban Forest: The city hopes to Plant and maintain 25,000 new trees in San Francisco by 2012, offsetting 2,500,000 pounds of CO2 annually. Each year, the City offers residents the Green Christmas program. There are two programs of note for friends of a tree canopy in the city.

a. Christmas Tree Planting: For $99, residents can buy a living Christmas tree for their homes. After the holidays, the City picks up and re-plants the tree in an area of the City that needed greening. This amounts to an offset of 400 pounds of CO2 annually.

b. Join Friends of the Urban forest. Each year, they help communities plant over 1,500 trees. Friends of the Urban Forest obtains permits, removes sidewalk concrete, supplies tools and materials and selects, purchases and delivers the trees. On planting day, volunteers work side-by-side with residents. After the work is done, everyone celebrates over a community lunch.

6. Zero Waste: This is our recycle program which has been city wide for many years. San Francisco is even pulling food waste for mulch out of apartment buildings (those green containers). The city has been doing a good job here and so have most San Franciscans. If you havent been recycling here are some tips on the best ways to begin:

a. Sunset Scavenger Organics program reclaims organic food waste. About 90 percent of the compost made from the food scraps from San Franciscans is applied to local vineyards. The balance goes to small farms and landscape supply yards, returning nutrients to farms. 300 tons of food scraps and yard trimming are collected each day.

7. Environmental Justice: Development of urban farms, community gardens, and schoolyard gardens to teach adults and children about the nutritional benefits of growing and eating fresh produce. The poorer districts of our city have less tree plantings and less nutritional guides in the form of schoolyard gardens. Mayor Newsom wants to place a focus on this. For example, the $99 Christmas tree program replants the Christmas trees in areas that have a lower tree population, affording these neighborhoods the same carbon reduction benefits of other neighborhoods.

** There really is an official city tree: a 100-foot Monterey Cypress, located in front of McLaren Lodge at Kennedy Drive, near Fell Street in Golden Gate Park. Special thanks to the sfgov site for the photo.

Thanks for Reading

Howard bell

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