Tag Archives: Berkeley Climate Action Plan

Berkeley council adopts new building sustainability law; small properties exempt for now

Berkeley is not moving fast enough toward its Climate Action Plan goals, says city staff. Image: City of Berkeley
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The Berkeley City Council unanimously adopted a new law Tuesday night aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by making local buildings more sustainable, but included carve-outs — at least initially — for properties with up to four units.

Many Berkeley homeowners had expressed concern in recent months about the new law, which would have required energy audits by homeowners every 10 years, as well as the payment of new fees to the city.

The city has described the new energy law as a critical part of Berkeley’s Climate Action Plan, which the voters approved in 2006. The plan calls for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 80% below 2000 levels by 2050, and set a 33% reduction goal by 2020. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley competes for $5M energy efficiency prize

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Berkeley is one of 50 communities across the country selected as a semifinalist for the Georgetown University Energy Prize, a national competition to reduce energy use with a $5 million prize for the winning community. Berkeley is one of six Northern California cities in the competition, with other semifinalists coming from 26 states.

“We have a legacy of innovation and leadership in energy efficiency and we’ve been making steady progress on our Climate Action Plan commitments,” said Neal De Snoo, Energy Program Officer for the City of Berkeley. “Berkeley is ready for a bit of friendly competition, and we’re ready to bring home the prize.”

The 50 cities and counties in the competition will be judged on their performance over the next two years in reducing utility-supplied energy consumption “in a manner that is likely to yield continuing improvements within their own community and replication in other communities.”  … Continue reading »

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Berkeley property owners to pony up for energy audits

Gunshot at Ed Roberts Campus, Nov. 29, 2012. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Later this month, the Berkeley City Council is slated to approve a new law — designed to increase building sustainability and reduce greenhouse gas emissions — that will mandate new fees and recurring energy assessments for local property owners.

The law would require payment of a $79-$240 filing fee, depending on building size, by property owners every 5-10 years. On top of that, property owners will be required to undergo building energy assessments on the same cycle, conducted by registered contractors, to the tune of an estimated $200 for a single-family home and up to $10,000 for large commercial buildings.

See the January 2015 update on Berkeleyside.

The goal of the new law, according to the city, is to make “building energy use information more transparent to owners and prospective renters or buyers,” and ultimately inspire more investment in energy upgrades. The law would replace existing minimum energy and water efficiency measures in Berkeley. The proposed ordinance would not require that upgrades are actually done, but will compile energy scores and summaries for city properties, and make them readily available online.

Explained city sustainability coordinator Billi Romain, “Rather than require a list of specific measures, it requires an evaluation of a building’s efficiency opportunities and identifies all available incentives and financing programs.” … Continue reading »

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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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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

New parking meters with credit card payment options are part of the goBerkeley program. Photo: Steer Davies Gleave/goBerkeley
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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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