Sustainable Marin sees a myriad of ways we need to alter our policies, programs, practices, education, livelihoods and culture. Many of them can be focused in a “sustainability agenda” to make the “green cities” movement operational. We see this as an urgent undertaking but a long-term process if sustainability goals are to be realized. At the moment, our “sustainability agenda” priorities look like this:
— ZERO WASTE. All Marin cities should adopt the excellent ZW policy and goals resolutions adopted by Novato, Fairfax, Marin Board of Supervisors and the County’s Waste Joint Powers Authority. The Waste JPA should embed ZW firmly in its new Countywide garbage policy, currently being redrafted and updated. The Board of Supervisors should adopt “four principles” recommended by Marin’s “Green Coalition”. Key element is diversion of greenwaste and food waste from landfilling into productive use as
compost for landscaping and agriculture as well as energy and methane capture. The “Green Coalition” has proposed a “composting/energy recovery” facility if a suitable site can be found.
— CLEAN ENERGY AND CLIMATE PROTECTION. See Energy. Climate protection and cleaner energy are not just issues to be left to the Federal Government, state authorities or global diplomacy to tackle. We have to do what we can locally. Much can be done here in Marin, starting with community choice electricity aggregation (CCA). Many Marin towns and cities have recently reduced solar power installation fees and should be encouraged to take other steps to boost renewable power and energy efficiency. See http://lomaprieta.sierraclub.org/global_warming/gwec.htm See also http://www.climatechoices.org/
— WATER CONSERVATION. Although our local water districts and sewage agencies all have addressed water and energy conservation, MMWD most recently with more aggressive water saving steps, much more can and should be done, both in irrigating landscaping more smartly and financing the home appliances that gulpwater excessively. A new initiative, July, 2007, is College of Marin’s Water Management Technology Center, Indian Valley Campus, to engage and educate industry leaders and the community in state-of-the-art water and landscape management practices.
— GREEN BUILDING. City of San Rafael has become a leader, having enacted (July, 2007) the County’s best green building ordinance yet. See also Novato’smandatory residential and multi-family ordinances. Check out Marin County’s own green building program. Sustainable Marin advocates combining best practices in a common, coherent County-wide green building standard ordinance that all cities would adopt, including major renovations, so that a single standard would be set for developers, architects and renovators and the current patchwork of difference standards superceded.
— TRANSPORTATION. For ways to cut pollution locally, see “Climate, Cars, and Carbon.” Cars are Marin’s single most polluting source of carbon emissions, over 50 percent, our overloaded streets and highways Marin’s most criticized “quality of life” problem. The problem of getting better public transit alternatives, promoting cleaner vehicles, and a host of innovations being tried or in development must hinge on one overriding imperative: cut carbon emissions as fast as possible.
— GREEN SCHOOLS. Our job as citizens, parents and residents is to help schools “green” their premises and curricula. To integrate green design and practices, check out GRES www.gresworld.net. Many principals, teachers and students want to move ahead but often lack a coherent, comprehensive plan of attack. Here’s one: GREENGUARD Environmental Institute (GEI) is working with Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) to recognize its GREENGUARD Children & SchoolsSM Product Certification Program as a strategy for supporting the CHPS Best Practices Manual for K-12 schools. Both organizations share a strong commitment to improving schools as healthy learning environments. GEI and CHPS were both founded on the premise that environments in which we live and breathe must be healthier and more sustainable. Schools, where our children spend much of their time, must be at the top of our “green city” priorities. GREENGUARDinfo@greenguard.org. Here is a sample of green-school “metrics”:
Sustainable Marin is working with allied groups. Our grassroots agenda includes:
- Rapid reduction of global warming pollutants and toxics
- Support of green business and clean-tech programs
- New green building codes
- Zero waste, composting, waste reduction and reuse
- Scaled-up energy efficiency measures
- Clean, reliable, renewable power
- Community choice electricity aggregation
- Affordable housing and low-carbon transit
- A sustainable water supply, water conservation