Gov. Jerry Brown

Statewide LG EE Best Practices: Weekly Update


The wEEkly Update

For Local Governments and their partners

Practical Guidance for Local Climate Engagement - Oct. 31 & Nov. 21
In this two-part webinar series, participants will be equipped to communicate effectively on climate change, empowering you to create and deliver compelling messages that engage and motivate a diversity of Americans in the issue.

Community Solar Pilot Workshops in California - Nov. 1, 6, and 8 (New LA Location) 
The California Department of Community Services and Development is inviting individuals from many pertinent areas of community solar, including solar project developers, local governments, community organizations, utility companies, affordable housing developers, investors, and others.

Solar for Apartment Buildings, Addressing Rent Control Issues - Nov. 8
While focused on California’s virtual net metering (VNM or NEM-V) tariffs and rent control policies, this discussion is applicable to any jurisdiction with rent control and to program enabling multifamily solar, including states with community solar programs

Building Operator Certification – Nov. 9
Learn how the training program benefits building personnel, facility departments, building owners, the environment, and bottom lines. 




News










Resources and Opportunities
Significant Opportunity for Local Govs to Grandfather on Solar-Friendly Rates
Emerging Best Practices for Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure
Senate Bill 350 Disadvantaged Communities Advisory Group Call for Applicants
Center for Climate and Energy Solutions
Find more resources and opportunities



Job Announcements
Business Analyst (Energy Efficiency) - City of Santa Clara
Zero Waste Program Coordinator - Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo



Upcoming events
Practical Guidance for Local Climate Engagement - Oct. 31 & Nov. 21
Webinar: BayREN - PACE and Financing - Nov. 7
Affordable Multifamily Financing Pilot Workshop - Nov. 7
Community Solar Pilot Workshops in California - Nov. 1, 6, and 8
Bay Area Energy Storage Fire Safety & Code Symposium - Nov. 8
Solar for Apartment Buildings, Addressing Rent Control Issues - Nov. 8
Webinar: Building Operator Certification – Nov. 9
Find more events






Copyright © 2017 Statewide Local Government Energy Efficiency Best Practices Coordinator, All rights reserved.
The wEEkly update for Local Governments and their partners.

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Local Government Energy Efficiency Best Practices Coordinator
980 9th St., Suite 1700
Sacramento, CA 95814

Why We Need Tree Canopies | Part II

Welcome to Part II of "Why We Need Tree Canopies". This portion will go into a bit more depth of CA's current tree situation, benefits of living near green space and what other jurisdictions in the country are doing to mitigate tree loss and increase benefits from expanded tree canopies.

According to a study by the Carnegie Institution for Science, well over 50 million trees throughout California are at risk of dying because of the drought. Furthermore, drought allows bark beetles to thrive, creating more dire conditions for susceptible trees and, as of last spring, the U.S. Forest Services estimated 12 million trees have already died from a mix of both severe drought conditions and this resulting bark beetle infestation. Studies show that the vast majority of the areas affected have been in the San Joaquin Valley and surrounding Central Valley. Governor Brown declared a state of emergency over dying trees and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) have focused efforts to remove dead trees in the SJV to eliminate the area’s vulnerability for fire and wildfire outbreaks.
Tree loss and disease from drought.

Tree loss results in increased forest fire susceptibility and severity as well as decreased animal and insect diversity, water resources and carbon sequestration. This imminent increase in fires, dying trees and beetle infestations will only continue to produce more carbon emissions, contributing to poorer air quality and climate change.

While the drought has exacerbated these conditions, an increased population of well-maintained, native and drought-tolerant trees will help mitigate some of these issues and provide substantial benefits to communities that plant these types of trees, increasing the local urban canopy. The USDA’s report Effects of Drought on Forests and Rangelands in the U.S.: A Comprehensive Science Synthesis notes that while native, drought-resistant plants do require some water and will increase a community’s necessary allotment, forests, including urban forests, are naturally resilient and resist effects from drought. Forests also help manage erosion and water runoff, supply and quality.

The San Joaquin Valley is home to many who both suffer greatly from asthma and live in poverty. Tree canopies, as previously mentioned, improve local air quality through CO2 sequestration, reducing respiratory-related illnesses and deaths. Tree canopies also provide widespread cooling and temperature control. Tree Fresno, a local environmental agency, shares the information that open, cemented areas can be over five degrees Fahrenheit warmer than similar areas with green space. This causes a reduced quality of life. Community members are less able to take advantage of outdoor amenities, exercising or interacting outdoors; people are more likely to suffer from health problems because of high air-pollution levels and daytime temperatures as well as minimized nighttime cooling; energy bills are higher due to a great need for air conditioning; and city resources become more limited.
Tree Fresno is the "regional resource for trees, trail and greenbelts".

To combat these severe results, Tree Fresno has also shown that a single fully-grown tree can have a net cooling effect of 10 single-room air conditioners each running for 20 hours a day and that shade reduces UVB radiation exposure by up to 50 percent. Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) shares an emissions factor of 457 pounds CO2 per MWh. This means that 10 500 Watt air conditioning units running for 20 hours a day is 100 kWh, which is about 45.7 pounds of kWh-related CO2 avoided with every tree planted.

By providing temperature control, the surrounding community is more willing and able to take advantage of outdoor activities and services and less likely to suffer from heat exhaustion and other related illnesses. Health benefits do not stop here. Environmental Health Perspectives recently published a Harvard University study illustrating a link between lower mortality rates as a result from respiratory illnesses and cancer and living near greenery. Living near greenery decreases air pollution and allows for more physical activity and social engagement. The study also found a much lower prevalence of depression in those that lived near greenery.

Additionally, trees reduce road maintenance costs. The Journal of Aboriculture shared a field study conducted in Modesto, CA, which showed that an unshaded street required 6 slurry seals over a period of 30 years and a tree-shaded street only required 2.5 seals over the same time period. This is a 58 percent reduction. So, let us consider the City of Clovis, which has over 120 Million square feet of roads. If the cost for slurry seals are approximately $0.66 per square foot, the City could see potential savings of nearly $80,000,000. Moreover, in its 2014 Regional Transportation Plan, Fresno COG indicated that over $1 Billion needed to be put towards road operations and maintenance projects. Projects may be avoided or have reduced costs with an increase in tree-lined streets.

I also must point out that since the San Joaquin Valley suffers from high unemployment and poverty levels, we need to shed light on the extensive economic benefits provided by expanded and properly maintained tree canopies. Trees provide natural and low-cost energy efficiency benefits to homes and properties protected and shaded by them. Properly placed trees can reduce cooling costs by 30 percent and can even lower heating costs by up to 50 percent. Lower utility bills put more money back into the pockets of the community, which then goes back into the local economy. Tree-lined streets also promote a higher level of business activity and increase home and property values.


Louisville suburb south of Bowman Field
Louisville, Kentucky adopted a Tree Canopy Ordinance and has since formed a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding the City’s tree canopy. In support of this effort, the City released a study that outlined many of these benefits in detail. As of 2015, Louisville’s canopy covered about 37 percent of the City, which equates to approximately 147 square miles with nearly 6.2 million trees. This canopy provides the community with over 67 million kilowatt hours (kWh) and over $5 million in energy savings each year as well as a $240 million increase in property values citywide. Additional savings have been reported from nearly 7 million pounds of pollutants and 400,000 tons of CO2 removed from the atmosphere each year and a near 19 billion gallon reduction in storm water runoff each year. The City of Louisville estimates that $330 million in savings will be seen annually from just maintaining the current tree canopy. Expanding the canopy will only increase these savings across all sectors.

Are you impressed by these benefits of tree canopies? Would you like your city to adopt a Tree Canopy Ordinance? Let us know!




Breathe deep: Beating greenhouse gases won't be easy

Contemporary cast of musical Hair, courtesy Joan Marcus.
Recession does have some positives.

The stalled economy reduced demand for gasoline and diesel and electric power. People drove less, bought fewer items and used less energy as a result. The production of greenhouse gas -- carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases -- peaked in 2007 at 2.752 billion metric tons, dipped to a low of 6.608 billion in 2009 before showing a little robust "recovery" by increasing to 6.821 billion in 2010, the most recent year for which numbers are available.

These and other fascinating facts can be found in 2012 Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. While that may sound encouraging, a deeper look at the numbers shows that U.S. consumers, business and government continued to show a prodigious hunger for fossil fuels.

Bad air on the rise

Production of greenhouse gases just from fossil fuel combustion (that's vehicles and stuff like energy generation) rose to 5.388 billion metric tons in 2010, a 13.7 percent increase from 1990.

The culprits? Electricity generation accounts for 34 percent, transportation 27 percent and industry 20 percent. The rest comes from agriculture, commercial, residential and other sources. Just for a little perspective, an average automobile produces 5.2 metric tons of greenhouse gases each year.

This stuff isn't good. In addition to mucking up the skies, the EPA ruled in 2009 that greenhouses gases are the primary cause of climate change. This leads to higher temperatures and longer heat waves and, among other things, threatens the health of Americans. Increases in ground-level ozone pollution, which is created by chemical reactions between nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds, have been linked to asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

Forecast in the 60s

The information is hardly new. A prediction can be found in the original Broadway cast recording of "Hair." The song, "Air," is as real now as it was then: "Welcome sulphur dioxide, Hello carbon monoxide. The air, the air is everywhere. Breathe deep, while you sleep, breathe deep." And so on. The lyrics are permanently seared into my brain, courtesy the first record I laid my hands on. --


Strange to think that "Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical" debuted off Broadway in October 1967. Seems like yesterday. I'm kidding. Seriously, I tried getting my arts friendly son Calvin, now in his first year at Seattle University, interested in the soundtrack.

Nothing. No response. Nor did any of my kids seem to get Cheech & Chong. Oh well.

Aiding the cause

The bigger plan is getting them thinking about the air. Facts and figures do little to inspire most people, but add an effective anecdote of how it affects somebody and interest can increase geometrically. We learned this in the newspaper business. A good photo, a great story people can relate to and a writer and photographer could fill a city council chamber.

But I'm no longer a journalist and this will never appear in newsprint. Still, the axiom holds. I offer up an observation many in the San Joaquin Valley can relate to: On sunny hot days in the depths of summer, the skies often look like they've been coated with a fine layer of mud. The views of the Sierra from Valley towns and farms, which were once so crystalline and vibrant, just don't exist. And the air kind of tastes like dirt.

The solution is obvious. We've got to reduce the national production of greenhouse gases. The alternative is something I'd rather not contemplate. Sure, we could experience total economic meltdown. For instance, Spain just reported an unemployment rate pushing a quarter of its work force. That's one way. But hardly optimal.

One building at a time

Another approach has been adopted by many colleges, government agencies and private sector organizations. It involves reducing the climate footprint. This can be done relatively painlessly through building retrofits, practices like benchmarking energy use and policies that encourage reduction in water and waste as well as electricity.

California Gov. Jerry Brown took the plunge, issuing an executive order that state agencies reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 10 percent by 2015 and 20 percent by 2020. The order also said that all new state buildings and major renovations after 2025 be designed and built to meet requirements of net-zero facilities. That means they generate as much energy as they use.

Brown's Order also says that as of 2020 half of new facilities should meet the net-zero requirement and that state agencies should make half their existing facilities meet the rule. It also includes reducing water use and adding plug-ins for electric cars and other changes.

"Doing something real about the growing threat of global warming requires more than just new laws. We must lead by example,” Brown says in a statement. “Greening the state’s buildings will shrink our environmental footprint and save taxpayers millions of dollars.”

No new world order

Pursuing climate friendly policies costs money. Not so much when it comes to green buildings but more so when looking to retire fossil-fuel-burning power plants.

Even the governments of Germany and Japan, which earlier pledged to push all out for green energy, are having trouble sticking to their goals. National Public Radio's Richard Harris, reporting from a meeting in London of energy ministers from around the world, says, "It turns out that right now, just about everything is conspiring to make it harder to clean up the world's energy supply."

Harris reports the International Energy Agency warned that nations are nowhere near being on track to avert significant climate change. He quotes David Victor at the University of California, San Diego, who says, "What's happened across the industrialized world is the governments are feeling poor these days."

Feed-in tariffs, which provide subsidies to make renewable energy competitive, are drying up and other incentives are being lost. The result has been a contraction of solar and wind companies in Europe and the United States. The reduction in price of natural gas, a direct result of hydraulic fracturing tapping new reserves, also has compounded the clean energy industry's problems.

The solution is to continue plugging along. Economic pressures will continue. The forecast continues to be in positive territory but disappointing.

So breathe deep, this won't be easy. And if you're looking for a way to help, 350.org is a great place to start.

Clean Energy Could Be The NEXT BIG THING!


First, Ernst & Young referred to clean technology as the next industrial revolution. Now, Seattle investment firm Cascadia Capital likens sustainable industries to the early years of the Internet, saying in a new report:

"The clean energy sector is going through the same re-birth process. . . We are seeing better companies, better technology, better business models and better executives in this industry every day. We strongly believe that a lot of the companies we see and work with will be well known companies in the 2013-2014 timeframe. Green companies are rising from the ashes."

This shows once again that the clean-energy industry isn't dying as many claim. It is emerging, staggering forward unevenly like a toddler growing up. The implosion of government guarantee-recipient Solyndra wasn't a failure as much as it was a sign of maturation. It couldn't compete and, in business as in nature, the weak are early casualties.

As former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said at current Gov. Jerry Brown's climate conference last week: "All kinds of businesses failed at the same time as Solyndra, but no one hears about that. You make mistakes and you fail. That is the way business is."

Here is more on the conference.

Cascadia notes, as we have many times, that investors, entrepreneurs and researchers have been joined by the big bucks of Corporate America. Companies such as Boeing and Walmart see profit in sustainability. You can bet these large corporations wouldn't be investing in it if they didn't expect rosy returns at the end.

They are saving millions from efficiency measures, such as lighting retrofits that really do pay off (How about $300,000 per year for Canon!). They are boosting their sustainability departments and are joining governments, professional sports and schools in pledging to use more renewable energy. (more here, here and here.)

One of the world's richest men just announced plans to buy into his second gigantic solar farm - this one in Arizona - to complement one in California, a state with the most ambitious renewables mandate in the nation, an equally ambitious cap-and-trade plan and a robust green chemistry program.

Companies are even joining forces with state governments to build new cities dedicated to testing clean energy. Check out this fascinating proposal out of New Mexico, where a whole new kind of company town is in the offing.

Clearly, the green movement is gaining, even if the GOP slate of presidential candidates ignores it. Tom Engelhardt in a TomDispatch.com post entitled, "Restless Planet" calls it the "Fifth Occupation," and claims its already bubbling to the surface, much as the methane is bubbling up from formerly frozen terrain. See this New York Times piece.

"When they stand their ground and chant 'We exist!' in anger, strength, and wonder, maybe then we can really tackle climate change and hope it isn’t too late," he writes. "Maybe the fifth occupation is the one we’re waiting for -- and don't for a second doubt that it will come. It’s already on its way. "

Video: California Gov. Jerry Brown at CODA plant