Tag Archives: Berkeley Climate Action Plan

Berkeley appoints first ‘chief resilience officer’

Timothy Burroughs
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As a city, Berkeley prides itself on being prepared. Officials hope the recent appointment of a “resilience officer” to coordinate city-wide defenses against natural disasters will be another step in that direction — this time with the help of the Rockefeller Foundation.

In mid-July, Berkeley appointed Timothy Burroughs to the position of chief resilience officer, a new post created as part of the city’s partnership with the 100 Resilient Cities project. Burroughs was formerly the city’s climate action coordinator, working on sustainability efforts in Berkeley. … Continue reading »

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Opinionator

Op-ed: Berkeley should allow curbside electric vehicle charging

Public electric vehicle charging station in Novato. Photo: Alan Gould
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More and more people are buying electric vehicles (EVs). For good reason. They have no tailpipes (zero emissions) and very low maintenance costs because the car’s electric motor has basically one moving part — the rotor. (There are no valves, muffler, radiator, pistons, carburetor, fan belt, etc.)

Yes, they have limited range, but in practice an electric vehicle can serve as a primary car for folks whose normal travel needs are trips of fewer than 70 miles or so. And … Continue reading »

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City lauds 29 ‘energy smart’ businesses in Berkeley

Local businesses that are taking steps to track and reduce greenhouse gas emissions were recognized Thursday night. Photo: Mark Coplan
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The city of Berkeley recognized more than two dozen local businesses Thursday night for their efforts to track and cut down on greenhouse gas emissions as part of the second annual Energy Smart Awards program.

Commercial buildings make up approximately 52% of Berkeley’s overall emissions, making reductions “an essential step for Berkeley as a whole to achieve the goals of the Climate Action Plan,” according to a statement released Friday by the city.

The plan was created by the city in 2006 and sets a target of a 33% reduction in emissions by 2020, followed by an 80% reduction by 2050. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley greenhouse gas emissions down 8% since 2000

This graphic by the city of Berkeley illustrates Climate Action Plan successes and outlines what still needs to happen moving forward.
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The city of Berkeley has reduced community-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 8% since 2000 despite a 10% increase in population, the city announced in an annual report mailed last week to residents and businesses throughout the city.

The mailing is the most comprehensive public report produced by the city to date on its progress toward Climate Action Plan goals established in 2006. The city has set a target of a 33% reduction in emissions by 2020, and an 80% reduction by 2050.

The latest annual report, centered around the theme of sustainability, is “a way to look at a broad swath of what city government work is,” said city spokesman Matthai Chakko, “how departments all come together, even if they seem to be working separately, toward a common goal.” … Continue reading »

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Streamlined permitting aims to cut solar costs

Oakland mayor Jean Quan speaks in support of a new streamlined solar permitting process across nine cities of the Bay Area.
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On Tuesday, nine East Bay cities announced a new streamlined solar permitting process designed to save homeowners up to $3,500 per solar photovoltaic system.

Members of the East Bay Green Corridor, Sungevity, Inc., and the state Office of Economic Development met at Sungevity’s Oakland offices to announce a new set of permitting guidelines that will be used in all the cities in the corridor: Berkeley, Oakland, Richmond, Emeryville, Alameda, Albany, El Cerrito, Hayward and San Leandro. The new streamlined permits, scheduled to take effect by Sept. 22, will also eliminate the need to hire an expensive structural engineer, which will save time, money and boost the solar industry, advocates said.

“What these guidelines do is allow homeowners to bypass the expensive structural engineering process,” said Carla Din, director of the East Bay Green Corridor. “When you put a system on your roof, there’s sometimes uncertainty about whether or not your rafters can support the modules, and so you bring in an outside structural solar engineer. What we did is come up with a prescriptive process that would apply to 80-95% of the homes in the Green Corridor and could save up to $3,500.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley to collect more plastics in curbside collections

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The Ecology Center announced today that it will now collect more types of plastic items, expanding its curbside collection and processing to handle things like dairy tubs, tupperware, vitamin bottles, plastic cups and trays.

“It’s sort of been a long time coming,” said Martin Bourque, executive director of the Ecology Center, which has managed Berkeley’s recycling for 40 years.

Currently, the center’s weekly curbside pickup accepts only those plastic products indicated with a No. 1 or No. 2 triangle, and, among those, only narrow-neck designs like disposable water bottles and milk jugs. Bourque said this is because containers with different designs, like yogurt cups, have different chemical compositions and must be processed separately.

“The plastics that we’re adding are plastics that some people put in anyway, so we’ve been sorting them out and selling them instead of sending them to the landfill,” he said.

Wide-neck No. 1 and No. 2 containers will now be accepted in the blue curbside carts, along with some No. 4 and No. 5 items. Read the center’s tips for reducing plastic consumption, which includes an explanation of the numbering system. … Continue reading »

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Details unveiled on proposed metered parking changes

Photo: Steer Davies Gleave
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In a presentation before the Berkeley City Council on Tuesday night, city staff presented their suggestions for upcoming metered parking changes designed to make some parking spots available on every commercial block in three of the city’s business districts.

Downtown, Telegraph and the Elmwood neighborhoods are slated to see changes to metered parking starting in September as part of the goBerkeley pilot campaign underway by the city to cut down on carbon emissions and encourage alternative transportation. The changes would be in place for at least one year, with minor adjustments possible along the way. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley school recycling gets back on track

A third-grade monitor at Oxford Elementary helps a classmate figure out what gets composted and what goes into the trash. Photo: Green Schools Initiative
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Berkeley schools are making a renewed commitment to recycling and composting after efforts slacked off over the past five years.

This year, a local non-profit, Green Schools Initiative, has worked with eight Berkeley schools, revitalizing recycling and composting programs. Green Schools was just awarded a grant for next year, so it can work with another eight schools in the fall.

According to Deborah Moore, executive director of Green Schools Initiative, recycling and composting are not only good for reducing landfill and greenhouse gases – they can also reduce the district’s spending.

“The Berkeley school district has potential to be saving $50,000 a year out of about $350,000 spent on trash pickup,” Moore said.  … Continue reading »

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Parking changes slated for 3 Berkeley business zones

A driver unable to find a spot in The Elmwood neighborhood parks instead in the crosswalk. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Later this year, three Berkeley business districts will experiment with new approaches to parking aimed at reducing double parking and circling, and making it easier for visitors to find a metered spot.

The effort is part of a new campaign underway by the city — dubbed goBerkeley — and is funded by federal grants to help staff analyze data, collect input from the public and study the impact of changes to parking-as-usual; drivers can expect to see changes start in September and last for a year. … Continue reading »

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Can Berkeley be most bike-friendly city in the country?

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On Bike to Work Day, Berkeley’s mayor Tom Bates (who famously ditched his car several years ago) got on his bike to show support for the two-wheeler set and laid out his commitment to make Berkeley “the most bike-friendly city in the country.”

At a series of press events this morning, Bates spoke of updating Berkeley’s Bicycle Plan so that it was the best bicycle plan in the country. He also hopped on his own bike first thing to take a (helmet-less) spin down the brand new West Street Pathway.

“Lowering our transportation GHG emissions is a key component of our award-winning climate action plan,” Bates said. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley resident parking fees set to rise 30%

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Berkeley City Council agreed on Tuesday night to raise the cost for the annual residential parking permit from $34.50 to $45, a 30% increase. The increase was a compromise following a recommendation from city staff that a 60% increase was necessary to cover the full costs of the Residential Preferential Parking program (RPP).

The RPP is projected to have revenues of nearly $1.6 million for the city in the 2013 fiscal year. But that barely covers the cost of parking enforcement, while the $311,000 cost of permit issuance and $105,000 cost for the transportation to administer the program results in overall losses. When the city council considered overall budget shortfalls in January, it instructed city staff to find ways to cover the RPP program losses.  … Continue reading »

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Council supports Sunday Streets, looks to find funds

2012 Sunday Streets. Photo: Alan Tobey
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Last October, Berkeley held a Sunday Streets event for the first time, and an estimated 40,000 people flocked to Shattuck Avenue to stroll, bike and skate the length of 17 blocks enjoying the car-free environment, al fresco eating, music, yoga and chess playing. By most accounts, the event was a success, but to make it happen again this year and going forward, the organizers are asking officials to stump up the funds to cover city costs.

At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, officials expressed their support for the event, but were hesitant, given Berkeley’s tight budget, to commit to the full amount needed to cover city costs for a 2013 repeat performance, as well as funds for future years. They also said they were uncomfortable making financial decisions separate from the context of the rest of Berkeley’s events. … Continue reading »

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Big changes needed to meet 2020 emissions goals

Over 800 solar photovoltaic (PV) systems (yellow dots) have been installed in Berkeley since 2000. Solar hot water systems (red dots) have also increased 
significantly. See the full map here.
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Berkeley is making progress but still has a long way to go to meet its goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the coming decades, according to a report set to be presented Tuesday night at 5:30 to the City Council. (A live stream of the meeting will be available here.)

In June 2009, the council adopted the Climate Action Plan as a guide for policy decisions to help the community significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the next 40 years. The goal is to reach 33% below normal levels by 2020, and 80% below normal levels by 2050.

The plan sets out strategies to reduce emissions, improve public health, drive the creation of green jobs and, not least of all, save money due to reduced energy use.

It won’t be easy. According to the staff report, Berkeley must decrease its community-wide emissions by more than 200,000 metrics tons. That’s the equivalent of removing 35,000 passenger vehicles from the road. (Berkeley’s current vehicle population is about 56,000.) … Continue reading »

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