What is embodied energy in construction materials and why does it matter? Interested to learn more? Click on the pdf image on your right side to read our article on this important topic. Article
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So far Christine Kohl-Zaugg has created 36 blog entries.
In 2020 alone, while nearly 2.5 million Californians were infected by COVID-19, nearly 10,000 fires burned 4.2 million acres across the state (The New York Times 2021, Cal Fire 2020). That is more than one football field’s worth of land burned for each Californian infected by COVID-19. Fire preparedness is pivotal to preserving the health of our surrounding ecosystems and communities. As a local resident, I wanted to learn more about what work is being done to prepare for wildfires this year. I reached out to Samuel Herzberg, a Senior Planner at the San Mateo County Parks Department, and Portola [...]
On June 22, Santa Clara County’s Board of Supervisors declared a local emergency due to this year’s extreme drought conditions. To date, 2021 ranks as the second driest year for California, with 1977 being the driest year on record. Yet San Mateo County hasn’t asked residents to cut back water use. Why? At our June Happy Hour, Tom Francis explained that San Mateo County’s water reserves are in much better shape than many jurisdictions in the state. As Water Resources Manager at the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency (BAWSCA), Tom tracks water levels closely. He said 85 percent [...]
At our May 26 Happy Hour, our guest speaker, Jill Kauffman Johnson explained how microalgae and other microorganisms can help us work toward a low carbon food system. Jill is the Executive Advisor of Sustainability and Society at Corbion (http://www.corbion.com/), a bio-based products company centered around innovative food and specialty ingredients derived from microalgae. Food systems are responsible for a large fraction of our global greenhouse gas emissions. For instance, as we learned (thanks to a trivia question), in the U.S. in 2019, 10 percent of our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions came from the agricultural sector. Jill explained that every [...]
In a “normal” year this would be the time to do your last minute shopping, travel to see family, and start celebrating with big family dinners and parties. But this year has been unlike any other: a global pandemic, social unrest, the imminent effects of a changing climate and so much more. Although all of these challenges might sound unrelated to you, social, racial and environmental issues are intrinsically connected and this year has brought us the opportunity to start seeing those connections more clearly. So what if we used this Holiday season to recalibrate? To evaluate our priorities? Our [...]
For our October Happy Hour, we were joined by Justine Burt, Founder and CEO of Appraccel, a local environmental sustainability consulting firm. Justine has worked with organizations including NASA, Costco, and the U.S House of Representatives and brings a wealth of knowledge about green jobs to the table. Fun fact about Justine: She is not only an amazing advocate for the Earth and CEO, she is also a first-time author. Her book, “The Great Pivot”, is a blueprint for creating green, meaningful jobs and advocates for a green recovery to pull us out from the economic recession. It is available [...]
Sustainable San Mateo welcomed Joe La Mariana, Executive Director at RethinkWaste, to its eighth Happy Hour on the evening of September 30. RethinkWaste is a standalone public agency and a $140M/year operation in the Bay Area. The agency owns and manages the Shoreway Environmental Center in San Carlos. The Center receives all the recyclables, green waste and garbage collected from the 12 local government jurisdictions which formed RethinkWaste more close to 40 years ago. In addition, RethinkWaste advocates for environmental best practices and waste reduction strategies through policy, legislation and education. Not much was left uncovered by Joe LaMariana [...]
Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency The Dual-Axis Solar Carport in Burlingame supports up to 600 solar panels. Conventional fossil-fuel energy sources such as coal and natural gas are huge contributors to climate change. Non-renewable electricity and power generation use large amounts of scarce energy and water resources and pollute both the air and water, greatly harming our health and environment. On the other hand, renewable energy generated from sources including sun, wind and tides provides substantial benefits for mitigating climate change and restoring our health and environment. Last year, Sustainable San Mateo County’s annual Key Indicator report [...]
What is going on with our food systems? This was a question that was brought up in one of our monthly Happy Hours and we think it is an important question to put into focus. A food system is defined as the path that food travels from field to fork. It includes the growing, harvesting, processing, packaging, transporting, marketing, consuming, and disposing of food. In short, its lifecycle. It also includes the inputs needed and outputs generated at each step. The recent coronavirus has given us a lot to think about because it is a zoonotic disease, meaning that it [...]
A Q&A with San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Pine kicked off SSMC's second virtual happy hour Thursday night, April 16. He addressed questions on the County's public health and economic responses to COVID, and what it will take to get back to normal. "Time has taken on a whole different pace during this COVID crisis. It feels like we've all been immersed in this for many years," reflected Supervisor Pine. "I'm looking forward to a time when we'll get back to normal and can get back to some of our core work on sustainability and climate change efforts but right [...]