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Wednesday: Atherton considers strict 'green' regulations for new buildings

City Council study session considers greenhouse gas reduction measures

Just how "green" should Atherton be?

The Atherton City Council will hold a study session on Wednesday, Nov. 4, to discuss the Environmental Programs Committee's recommendations that the town adopt far-reaching greenhouse gas reduction measures, including requiring new buildings to produce as much energy as they use.

The study session starts at 4 p.m. in the town's council chambers at 94 Ashfield Road.

A climate action plan stating how the town will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 15 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 is required under a 2007 state law. However, when a draft plan was brought to the City Council a year ago, council members asked for revisions that would go beyond the state's minimal requirements.

The proposal returned by the Environmental Programs Committee says Atherton could reduce its greenhouse gas emission by 30 percent by 2020 and by 50 percent by 2030.

To do so, the town would have to require new residential and commercial buildings, including the civic center now under design, to be "zero net energy," generating their own energy by methods such as solar, wind or geothermal.

The staff report on the proposed climate action plan says it would cost the town between $30,000 and $50,000 to develop a zero net energy program, plus an additional $100,000 to $200,000 to either train staff to implement the program or to contract it out.

Other recommendations in the plan include:

● Requiring 10 percent of commercial parking spaces to have electric vehicle chargers and 50 percent to be capable of being retrofitted with chargers. The regulations would apply to the new civic center, private schools and the Circus Club.

● Promoting the recapturing of water with rain barrels, permeable pavers and gray water systems.

● Requiring yard waste be recycled by landscapers and landscape maintenance businesses, organic waste be recycled by businesses, and food scraps be collected from residences, businesses and schools, with the goal of composting the organics locally.

Also on the agenda is a presentation on Peninsula Clean Energy by Jim Eggemeyer of the San Mateo County Sustainability Office. The county wants San Mateo County cities to join it in the clean energy project, a cooperative effort to purchase renewable energy that would be available to customers at a competitive rate through PG&E's existing power network.

The staff report and draft climate action plan can be seen here.

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