April 25, 2008
Cities have the power
to slow global warming
San Francisco, Los Angeles, and even Chula Vista are leading the way in flexing municipal power to help save the planet.
By requiring energy-efficient construction, cities could far surpass the impact of all hybrid and biodiesel cars put together. Buildings - from homes to high-rises - produce more greenhouse gas emissions than either transportation or industry.
Since city and county governments control what gets built, global warming is a local issue.
Buildings account for 38% of all carbon dioxide pollution in the U.S. Energy-efficient construction -- using solar heat, nontoxic paints and flooring, low-emission air-conditioning and lighting, roof gardens -- could cut 1.7 billion tons of greenhouse gases a year in North America, more than eight times as much as requiring all cars to get 35 miles per gallon.
Many cities, including San Diego, have "green building" standards for public buildings, but that's a drop in the bucket. San Francisco and Los Angeles are leading a trend to enforce energy requirements on the far larger private development industry.
In 2005, CPI and our allies won green building standards for a major development downtown, as part of the Community Benefits Agreement negotiated with the developers of the Ballpark Village project next to Petco Park. Developers will be held to the agreement -- which also requires living wage jobs, local job training, and affordable housing -- as they build the biggest Marriott Hotel on the West Coast.
Every one of the 18 cities in San Diego County - and the County Board of Supervisors, which approves development in unincorporated areas - should act now to require nonpolluting construction. We can start by asking every elected official and candidate to pledge to adopt strict environmental building codes to turn our region green.
Center on Policy Initiatives
3727 Camino del Rio South, Ste 100
San Diego, CA 92108 : (619) 584-5744
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