Tag Archives: Environment

Berkeley installs first permeable pavers downtown

The construction site on Allston Way. Photo: Charles Siler
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Traffic may be rough come school season, but the construction project closing Allston Way outside Berkeley High School is significant: the city’s first major permeable pavement installation.

The block of Allston between Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Milvia Street in downtown Berkeley is shut down for construction until mid-November while the city installs new environmentally friendly pavement, according to the city.

The new permeable interlocking concrete pavement will absorb water, rather than redirecting it to a storm drain the way traditional asphalt does. This has a number of advantages, including better heat dispersal and cleaner runoff water, according to the city Public Works Commission. … Continue reading »

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Cal, city of Berkeley take steps to curb water use

Water runoff from one of Cal's lawns is a relatively common occurrence on campus. Photo: Patrick Hickey
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In response to the severe drought conditions that plague most of the state, Cal and the city of Berkeley have ramped up efforts to curb water use.

Runoff from several university lawns has been of particular concern to some local residents. Water from nearby sprinkler systems sometimes flows onto pathways and sidewalks around campus, but the runoff is unintentional and closely monitored, according to Sal Genito, associate director of Grounds, Custodial and Environmental Services for the University of California at Berkeley.

The university has already cut back on watering by 10 percent, as per a mandate from the governor’s office. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Asphalt: New technology will reduce odors

Berkeley Asphalt plant on Virginia St. Photo: Mary Flaherty
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Berkeley Asphalt plans to invest in a new manufacturing process designed to reduce emissions and odors in its West Berkeley neighborhood starting in January, officials announced recently.

Its neighbors have complained about the noise, odors, and pollution from the plant for at least 20 years, most recently in June when a group questioned whether the plant has been violating its use permit with excess odors and noise.

What the company has decided to do is convert to a new technology called “warm-mix” asphalt, which produces paving material at a lower temperature than traditional asphalt, yet performs as well on the road and releases fewer pollutants into the air, according to company officials. The decision was the result of negotiations between the company and city staff that began last year.

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Berkeley asphalt plant emissions dangerous, say residents

Residents allege that the Lehigh Hanson asphalt plant at 699 Virginia St. in West Berkeley is emitting dangerous fumes. Photo: Charles Siler
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A small group of West Berkeley homeowners gathered at City Hall on Monday this week to submit a Public Record Act request, claiming the Berkeley Asphalt & Ready Mix plant on Virginia Street has been violating its use permit by emitting excessive odors and noise.

The company, owned by Texas-based Lehigh Hanson, operates an asphalt plant at 699 Virginia St. in the Oceanview area. The group of residents, who call themselves Oceanview Neighborhood Action, say the plant is constantly emitting noxious fumes, to the point that they can’t go outside or leave their windows open.

“It smells like sulfur most days, like burnt sand,” said Kate Stepanski, a resident of the neighborhood. “It’s making people sick and it’s a public hazard — it’s irresponsible.”  … Continue reading »

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‘You’re not with it if you’re not air drying your clothes!’

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On Wednesday a gigantic clothesline dangled over Berkeley’s Civic Center Park. T-shirts, sweaters, jeans, and all kinds of clothing swayed in the wind as members of Rising Sun Energy Center‘s California Youth Energy Services (CYES) program proudly explained the work they’ve been doing to make Berkeley’s community more sustainable.

“Really what this is is a call to action,” said Jodi Pincus, executive director of the Berkeley-based Rising Sun Energy Center. “You may be asking, how does [climate change] relate to air drying my clothes? Clothes dryers are the second largest energy hog appliance in the home, and CO2 emissions from a single household can amount to nearly 23,000 pounds of CO2 per year. It is up to us to do something.” … 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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