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Sep 092010

From Green Right Now Reports

San Francisco knows how to not waste an opportunity. In case you missed the news, the Golden Gate city recently surpassed it’s goal of diverting 75 percent of its trash from the landfill by 2010. It’s already at 77 percent trash diversion by the city’s last estimation.

The side of a Recology truck makes the point that "Recycling changes everything." In San Francisco, it has dramatically changed how much trash goes to waste. (Photo: Recology)

That very likely makes San Francisco the continuing leader among U.S. cities for trash diversion. San Jose, Fresno, Long Beach, New York City and Portland are close behind. According to an independent ranking, those cities were all  diverting at least 60 percent of their waste in late 2007. San Francisco led the pack back then at 67 percent diversion.

City leaders say that San Francisco’s continued aggressive trash reduction coupled with high recycling rates is generating jobs in the recycling field.

“San Francisco is showing once again that doing good for our environment also means doing right by our economy and local job creation,” said Mayor Gavin Newsom in a statement. “For a growing number of people, recycling provides the dignity of a paycheck in tough economic times. The recycling industry trains and employs men and women in local environmental work that can’t be outsourced and sent overseas, creating ten times as many jobs as sending material to landfills.”

Gavin pointed to Recology, the city’s main recycling vendor, which employs more than 1,000 people in San Francisco.

The municipal Environment Department made the  determination that the city had surpassed its diversion goal based on 2008 figures showing San Francisco diverted more than 1.6 million tons of material. The city characterized that amount as twice the weight of the Golden Gate Bridge.

In the absence of an updated list of all U.S. cities’ diversion rates, Mayor Newsom declared San Francisco the record holder in an Aug. 27 announcement.

Residents have accomplished this mountainous task through active recycling, composting and reuse.

What’s next for the city that’s trying so hard not to live sustainably? Zero waste by 2020 is the goal. Environment Director Melanie Nutter admits that it might be difficult to reach the summit, without some changes in the world outside the Bay Area.

“If we captured everything going to landfill that can be recycled or composted in our programs, we’d have a 90 percent recycling rate, but we will need to work on the state and federal level to require that packaging and products are manufactured with minimal waste and maximum recyclability,” Nutter said.

Read more:

Aug 052010

SAN JOSE, CA (KGO) — San Jose is still basking in the glow of state recognition that it’s the largest installer of solar power. Thursday it added another company to its list. There was a breakthrough at Stanford that could make solar more affordable:

Jul 302010

From Green Right Now Reports

The Bay Area’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission has approved 22 new capital grants worth $44 million to finance pedestrian, bicycle and streetscape improvements near public transit in cities around the Bay Area.

The projects approved for funding are being developed by community groups and local authorities throughout the region, including the three largest cities of San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland, along with 14 other cities including Berkeley, San Leandro, Hayward, Richmond, Alameda, Union City, San Carlos, Concord, Livermore, Hercules, Vallejo, Santa Rosa, Petaluma, and Cotati.

There were 33 projects requesting $80 million in funds, and applications were received from seven of the nine Bay Area counties. Marin and Napa counties did not apply for funding in this cycle.

The grants were made through the Transportation for Livable Communities program, which supports community-based transportation projects that bring new vibrancy to downtown areas, commercial cores, neighborhoods and transit corridors, making them places where people want to live, work and visit. The MTC is the transportation planning, coordinating and financing agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.

The TLC program also supports Priority Development Areas, designated areas in which there is local commitment to developing housing, along with amenities and services, to meet the day-to-day needs of residents in a pedestrian-friendly environment served by transit.

“The TLC program is a concrete way of expanding transportation choices while also making our neighborhoods more environmentally sustainable and attractive places to live and work,” Solano County Supervisor and MTC Commissioner Jim Spering, who chairs MTC’s Planning Committee, said in a statement. “Whether in downtown areas or in other neighborhoods, TLC projects help build a sense of community by making it easier and more inviting for residents to use public transit, walk or bicycle. The streetscape enhancements and pedestrian/bicycle access improvements built with this money will pay immediate dividends in terms of quality of life and public health.”

Since the TLC program’s inception in 1998, about $200 million has been invested to help provide better linkages between housing and public transit. TLC provides funding for projects that provide for a range of transportation choices, support connectivity between transportation investments and land uses, and are developed through an inclusive community planning effort.

May 172010
The pagoda at Overfelt Gardens is one of San Jose’s uniquely beautiful parks. (Photo: San Jose Parks Foundation)

From Green Right Now Reports

With severe budget cuts looming ahead, San Jose Parks Foundation today announced the launch of “ParkForce,” a membership campaign that offers residents the opportunity to provide private sector support to protect and preserve city parks and trails.

San Jose Parks Foundation, a nonprofit organization,will begin fund raising through direct mail, online and in targeted public parks and plazas throughout San Jose. ParkForce memberships are available to anyone who donates to the foundation.

“The people of San Jose have a chance to act before the budget cuts have their impact. Parks have a profound impact on many aspects of our lives, from the health of children and seniors to the look and feel of a neighborhood to property values,” San Jose Parks Foundation Executive Director James Reber said in a statement. “The coming budget cuts could have a very negative impact on all city parks. By building a strong ‘ParkForce’ membership we can protect and preserve – and in some cases enhance – our parks and trails. The work of the Friends of San Jose Rose Garden proves that a community effort can be a force for good in our city parks.”

Residents and businesses in San Jose have watched as budget cuts have taken their toll on a variety of city programs. The current deficit projections mean even deeper cuts for San Jose’s department of Parks Recreation and Neighborhood Services. Anticipating that this might happen, PRNS took action a few years ago to help organize and fund the San Jose Parks Foundation, which brings private funds to public parks.

Basic memberships begin at $60 for a family. Associate memberships begin at the Trailblazer level of $125. All funds raised by San Jose Parks Foundation will support programs, services, and capital needs of San Jose’s public parks, trails and community centers. Detailed information is available online at the FaceBook page for San Jose Parks Foundation.

Hot Topics

Gulf oil spill | Global warming | Green cars

Oct 162009

From Green Right Now Reports

The Department of Energy announced $10 million has been awarded to 16 cities for 40 new Solar America Cities Special Projects. The funds, made through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, will enable the cities to increase solar energy use in their communities through innovative programs and policies that the government believes can be replicated across the nation.

The cities chosen for these awards came from the group of 25 large U.S. cities that are part of the DOE’s Solar America Cities program, which recognizes the participating cities as partners highly committed to solar technology adoption at the local level. Those cities already have been given millions of dollars in funds and technical assistance to accelerate solar adoption.

To this point, the cities have used the funding to develop solar financing models, improve solar permitting processes, and create training courses for solar installers, among other uses. The DOE said this new award will enable the cities to scale up their most promising projects and concepts to overcome key barriers to urban solar energy use. The DOE plans to share the lessons learned and best practices from these projects with local governments throughout the nation through a substantial outreach effort planned to launch in early 2010.

The DOE has selected the following Solar America Cities Special Projects:

Austin, TX

Berkeley, CA

Boston, MA

Madison, WI

Milwaukee, WI

Minneapolis – Saint Paul, MN

New Orleans, LA

New York City, NY

Portland, OR

Salt Lake City, UT

San Diego, CA

San Francisco, CA

San José, CA

Santa Rosa, CA

Seattle, WA

Tucson, AZ

Aug 252009

SAN JOSE, CA (KGO) — Bay Area-based eBay has found a way to provide employees with a host of benefits at a very low cost. It’s giving workers a chance to raise their pay and raise workplace morale while raising crops at its San Jose campus. >> Read the full story

Mar 122009

From KGO-San Francisco

SAN JOSE, Calif.  — California recycling is at a record high with 58 percent of all the state’s waste being recycled, not dumped in landfills. But, one group is still lagging behind: People who live in apartments.

So, the City of San Jose launched a new program to turn that around and the results are dramatic. Recycling is a way of life in most of the Bay Area now.

> Watch Now

Feb 012009

By Karina Rusk
KGO – San Francisco

SAN JOSE — You might think the 7th grade is too young to design and engineer the city of the future, but some girls in San Jose might change your mind. Their winning idea is on its way to a national competition. These three seventh graders are not only best friends, they’re tomorrow’s urban planners.

> Watch now