Oh, Kansas

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I live in California. Even more specifically, I live in the Bay Area, which has generally embraced both that sustainability is a pretty good long term goal and that public money can be used pretty effectively to address and promote that goal.

At the other end of the sustainability spectrum is a recent story about Kansas.

The Kansas legislature’s Committee on Energy and Environment is proposing House Bill No. 2366, which would ban all state and municipal funds for anything related to “sustainable development” [via Bloomberg]. In the bill, sustainable development is defined as

development in which resource use aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for generations to come.”

The full text of the bill (only 2 pages long) is worth reading:

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You can also read it online here (PDF).

As noted by the somewhat snarky Bloomberg article, “… House Bill No. 2366 shouldn’t affect the wind industry, because Kansas already doesn’t support wind development with public funds.”

Oh, Kansas.

CEC Approves New California Building Energy Efficiency Standards!

“California officials on Thursday approved energy efficiency standards for new homes and commercial buildings that officials are describing as the toughest in the nation. …

“The new requirements, set to go into effect in 2014, will reduce energy use in California homes and businesses by 25 percent or more, commission officials said.”

Read the full story at the San Francisco Chronicle. I’ll post more details about the new building efficiency standards tomorrow.

For those that want the details now, the full 2013 Building Energy Efficiency Standards Rulemaking is online here.

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Why young people are driving so much less than their parents [The Atlantic]

Berkeley starts to recycle mixed rigid plastics [East Bay Express]

BART is projecting a budget surplus for next fiscal year [SF Examiner]

Urban development projects in California are in limbo [NY Times]

Photo: A water fountain and water bottle filling station at O’Hare Airport in Chicago, IL, by Anna LaRue

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Snippets

After 100 years, San Francisco Muni has gotten slower [NY Times]

LBNL and UC Berkeley researchers measured emissions from drayage trucks in the Port of Oakland [EETD newsletter]

A report from UC Davis says water in California’s farm country is polluted by synthetic fertilizers [UC Davis]

A report from the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy chronicles the life and death of urban highways [ITDP website]

Photo: A front yard full of chard in Berkeley, CA, by Anna LaRue

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FEMA & USGBC on Resilient Communities

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Last Wednesday, the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) gave a speech describing the role green building can play to ensure resilient communities as the climate shifts. Fugate was the keynote speaker of the National Leadership Speaker Series on Resiliency and Security in the 21st Century at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

The presentation also featured the launch of a report by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. The report, Green Building and Climate Resilience: Understanding Impacts and Preparing for Changing Conditions, describes potential adaptive strategies familiar to green building practitioners. These strategies add an important new dimension to green building’s long-standing focus on reducing greenhouse gases through energy efficiency and renewable and low-carbon energy supplies.

You can find the full report on the USGBC site here.

THIS POST IS PART OF OUR FRIDAY VIDEO SERIES.
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Snippets – City Infrastructure

Today, stories about developing and improving cities and their infrastructure.

The City of Chicago announced the Chicago Infrastructure Trust, which will leverage private investment for retrofits pending City Council approval. For the first project, they will be doing an energy efficiency retrofit of municipal buildings (via Greentech Media).

Bay Area cities begin to adjust to life after redevelopment agencies shut their doors on Feburary 1st. A blog post by SPUR walks through the impact of these changes in San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose.

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Alameda County Bans Use of Some Plastic Bags

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According to Berkeleyside, the Alameda County Waste Authority voted Wednesday to ban the use of plastic bags at pharmacies and grocery stores in the county starting in 2013. The plastic bag ban will apply to 2,000 stores in the county.

Read more over at Berkeleyside.

ZETA Communities on NPR

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As I was listening to the radio this morning, I heard a story about Bay Area company ZETA Communities…

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As Population, Consumption Rise, Builder Goes Small

The planet may not feel any different today, but there are now 7 billion people on it, according to the United Nations.

That number will continue to rise, of course, and global incomes are likely to rise as well. That means more cars and computers, and bigger homes: the kinds of things Americans take for granted. It’s that rise in consumption that has population experts worried…

In an industrial park outside of Sacramento, Calif., there’s a factory inside what looks like an old airplane hangar.

Zeta Communities builds modular homes here. Project manager Scott Wade says they’re not like “stick-built” homes — “stick-built meaning they build it one piece at a time,” Wade says, “whereas we build it an assembly at a time.”

In cities, modules can be stacked to make a new generation of efficient buildings. At Zeta headquarters, architect Taeka Takagi rolls out a blueprints with one of Zeta’s prototypes.

“It is a micro studio,” she says. “The units are under 300 square feet.”

You can read or listen to the entire story on the NPR website.

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You can also watch videos of a unit being built in the ZETA factory and a unit being installed on our website here.

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The Rundown: 2011 BERC Energy Symposium

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Last week, I attended the 2011 BERC Energy Symposium, on the UC Berkeley campus. There were a number of interesting folks both speaking and attending, so I’d like to give you all a sense of what was covered.

I attended a panel on energy and behavior on Friday morning – I will post some thoughts on it in the next few days.

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Coverage from The Berkeley Science Review:

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You can find more information about BERC and this year’s expo and symposium here.

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The Future of Energy

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The most recent Planet Money podcast is a discussion of the future of energy with Daniel Yergin, an influential thinker and author on energy issues.

The podcast is online here (with a transcript). The energy part of the discussion starts between 3.5-4 minutes in.

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