Electrification of CalTrain, Bullet Train (High Speed Rail) * Use of Green Infrastructure *
Multi-modal transport that bring additional benefits of health and environment – Complete streets *
Blue Planet * CAL FIRE’s Strategic Plan to Limit Wildfire Damage * San Francisco Airport’s Zero Net Energy Goal * Sanger and Chowchilla: Models for Clean Energy Financing * How Artificial Intelligence Can Help Build Resilience * Safeguarding Highway 101 on Humboldt Bay from Rising Sea Levels * Valley Water’s Multi-Pronged Approach to Safeguarding Water Resources * The Ohlone-Portolá Heritage Trail * Smart Sidewalks by Pavegen Systems * Peninsula Clean Energy: Cleaner and Cheaper Energy
Electrification of CalTrain, bullet train (High Speed Rail)
Question: Can a system upgrade of a public transportation system create a positive impact on the environment?
Answer: Yes! Leveraging existing technology such as electrification, the process of generating power solely using electricity, can create an environmentally friendly Caltrain.
The Program: The Caltrain Modernization Program (CalMod) includes electrification and other projects that will upgrade the performance, efficiency, capacity, safety and reliability of Caltrain’s service. Electrification provides the foundation that future CalMod improvements are based on, including full conversion to an electric fleet, platform and station improvements, the extension of service to Downtown San Francisco, and other projects that allow Caltrain to grow and evolve with the Bay Area.
Long-term plan: Next year the first new electric train will be delivered and go through extensive testing. By the end of 2021, beginning of 2022, phased passenger service begins with new high-performance electric trains. In 2023, additional capacity and system improvements will be implemented if needed.
Impact: The primary purpose of Caltrain electrification is to improve Caltrain system performance and curtail longterm environmental impacts by reducing noise, improving regional air quality, and lowering greenhouse gas emissions. The current project will electrify the corridor from San Francisco to San Jose and will replace 75% of Caltrain’s diesel service with electric–providing cleaner, greener, and better service to the Caltrain community.
Sources: http://www.caltrain.com & https://calmod.org.
Question: What is green infrastructure and why is it important?
Answer: Green infrastructure is an approach to city and street planning that allows stormwater (water that washes off streets, driveways, yards, etc., picking up pollutants and flowing directly into the Bay and ocean) to be absorbed and filtered by soil and plants. Stormwater runoff is one of the largest contributors to water pollution and is mainly caused by pollutants washing off the many impervious surfaces in our urbanized areas, especially roads and parking lots. Green infrastructure provides cities with an opportunity to integrate more “green” into their communities and fight urban water pollution, a win-win scenario for everyone! Implementing green infrastructure is also an important step to help combat climate change. The Environmental Protection Agency has listed several ways green infrastructure improves resiliency for environmental change in cities:
- Managing floods by absorbing rainwater, which cement and concrete aren’t able to do
- Preparing for droughts by utilizing rain gardens and green streets to infiltrate rainwater and replenish local groundwater supplies
- Reducing the urban heat island effect (when an urban area is significantly warmer than surrounding areas) by increased trees and shading
- Lowering building energy demands
- Spending less energy on water management
- Protecting coastal areas with natural landscapes
Program: The benefits of green infrastructure extend well beyond cleaning and managing water. Rain gardens, stormwater curb extension, green roofs and street trees (among other green infrastructure types) can also directly enhance pedestrian and bicycle mobility and safety, contribute to traffic calming, add urban green space and wildlife habitat, enhance neighborhood livability, help deepen residents’ sense of connection with the natural environment, and control localized flooding and heat island effects.
To take the leap toward “sustainable streets” throughout the county, the San Mateo Countywide Water Pollution Prevention Program is creating a San Mateo County Sustainable Streets Master Plan. This long-term planning effort builds on years of watershed modeling and stakeholder input and will take a closer look at how and where to build sustainable streets in San Mateo County that integrate stormwater management with local priorities, like bike and pedestrian mobility, transit improvements, climate change adaptation and more. The plan will also use down-scaled climate data to anticipate future changes in rainfall and how we need to account for climate change with respect to sustainable streets planning, design and construction.
Long-Term Plan: The Sustainable Streets Master Plan process will engage the community throughout San Mateo County to plan for and prioritize street improvements to provide water quality, flood reduction and community benefits throughout San Mateo County in the face of a changing climate.
Impact: The San Mateo Countywide Water Pollution Prevention Program has helped advance green infrastructure and sustainable streets in the county through local funding initiatives. Two examples below:
- Brisbane: Parking Lot at City Hall
- The landscaped area in the Brisbane City Hall parking lotis actually an engineered system for treating stormwater This area, called a rain garden or bioretention area, collects stormwater runoff from both the parking lot and building roof.
- Another stormwater treatment system, called a bioswale, is located on the opposite side of City Hall along Valley Drive. These treatment systems help keep pollutants from our cars out of the Bay.
- Daly City: Serramonte Library
- Rainwater flows through the parking area collecting dust, litter, oil, and grease. The polluted rainwater is collected at the gutter and then directed through diversion channels to the bio-retention gardens. Within the bio-retention gardens, the water is cleaned through infiltration into the soil and transpiration through the plants. The garden basins are designed to hold stormwater, and the soil and plants provide adequate time for these processes to occur.
Question: Can developing a well-balanced, connected, safe, and convenient multimodal transportation network have added health and environmental benefits?
Answer: Yes! Multimodal transportation networks that allow people to walk or bike as a viable transportation option can promote an active lifestyle by encouraging travelers to walk or ride bicycles instead of driving.
Reducing the amount that people drive by increasing the opportunity for walking, bicycling, and transit, also reduces vehicle emissions. Emissions from vehicles are a major contributor to poor air quality, which in turn, is a major contributor to health ailments such as asthma. Although poor air quality is not always the cause of asthma, vehicle emissions are a major contributor to asthma related illnesses.
Finally, land use patterns and the existing transportation infrastructure play a direct role in the rate and growth of vehicle miles traveled (VMT); influencing the distance that people travel and the mode of travel they choose. Transportation accounts for 38 percent of California’s Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. Reducing the number of automobile trips can reduce fuel consumption and GHG emissions.
The Program: On September 30, 2008 Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Assembly Bill 1358, the California Complete Streets Act. The Act states: “In order to fulfill the commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, make the most efficient use of urban land and transportation infrastructure, and improve public health by encouraging physical activity, transportation planners must find innovative ways to reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and to shift from short trips in the automobile to biking, walking and use of public transit.”
Complete streets are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users. Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities must be able to safely move along and across a complete street.
- To use the regional transportation planning process to direct funding to transportation projects that reduce GHG emissions by coordinating land use and transportation planning;
- To use the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) streamlining as an incentive to encourage residential development projects which help achieve GHG emission reduction goals; and,
- To coordinate the state’s requirements for regional housing development and planning with the regional transportation planning process.
Question: Can upgrading something as basic as concrete help the environment?
Answer: Yes! Technology from Blue Planet uses CO2 as raw material for making carbonate rocks. The carbonate rocks produced are used in place of natural limestone rock mined from quarries, which is the principal component of concrete. CO2 from flue gas is converted to carbonate (or CO3=) by contacting CO2 containing gas with a water-based capture solutions. This differentiates Blue Planet from most CO2 capture methods because the captured CO2 does not require a purification step, which is an energy and capital intensive process. As a result Blue Planet’s capture method is extremely efficient, and results in a lower cost than traditional methods of CO2 capture.
Program: Blue Planet’s limestone-coated light weight aggregate was specified in Interim Boarding Area B at San Francisco International Airport where it was included in the concrete poured in 2016 by Central Concrete. Concrete testing showed that Blue Planet’s concrete met all necessary specifications.
A typical cubic yard of concrete has a carbon footprint of approximately 600 lbs. of embodied CO2 mainly from manufacturing the portland cement component of the cubic yard. Using Blue Planet products the carbon footprint of a cubic yard of concrete can be not just reduced, but the cubic yard of concrete can become carbon-negative by two specific methods:
- First, by replacing conventional fine and coarse aggregate (sand & gravel) with Blue Planet synthetic limestone aggregate, which is 44% by mass CO2 now converted to a permanent crystalline solid state in CaCO3, the entire carbon footprint of the portland cement can be completely off-set and can further be more than offset, taking the carbon footprint into the negative carbon range. For instance a typical cubic yard of concrete may have 3000 lb.s of aggregate; if it is all Blue Planet synthetic limestone, then 44% of it is sequestered CO2 (from a power plant or other industrial plant), or 1320 lbs of CO2 is offset.
- Second, If the portland cement in the mix originates from a cement kiln where Blue Planet has captured the CO2, then the typical 600 lb. carbon footprint of the portland cement in the mix doesn’t come into the calculation. Thus the total offset is 1320 lb.s industrial or atmospheric CO2 sequestered in aggregate + 600 lb.s captured from the production of portland cement, totaling 1320 + 600 = 1920 lb.s CO2 offset, or nearly one ton CO2 (2000 lb.s) captured and incorporated per cubic yard of concrete.
Precise values are determined applying LifeCycle Carbon Analyses (LCA), that incorporate the auxiliary load carbon footprint of Blue Planet’s processes and transportation at specific plant locations and CO2 emission industry-specific types. Additionally, specific comparative mix designs can be simply and quantitatively compared using the CarbonStar rating which plainly shows the consequences of different proportions of aggregate and cement of the mix designs of interest. For example, the CarbonStar rating of the carbon-negative mix design discussed above is -1920, or about one ton carbon negative per cubic yard. In practice, this means that every cubic yard of this concrete which is places contains the 1920 lb.s of CO2 that would have otherwise entered Earth’s atmosphere
Long-Term Plan: Most aggregate on a worldwide basis is purchased by governments, or for government-funded projects. Governments have the procurement power to specify carbon-sequestered rock in construction projects, providing what may be the strongest lever we have world-wide to prevent CO2 from entering Earth’s atmosphere. This approach is a truly global one in that both rich and poor countries alike purchase rock by funding infrastructure projects every year.
Impact: With the exception of water, aggregate is the most transported material on Earth. Creating aggregate from CO2 is one of the few highly impactful, globally sustainable means to significantly address climate change, since a new infrastructure is not required. The transportation and product delivery infrastructure for delivering Blue Planet’s carbon sequestered aggregate is already in place in every country and at every site in the world that is producing concrete, asphalt and road base.
Question: Can we better safeguard lives and property, as climate change exacerbates wildfires making them more destructive and more frequent?
Answer: Yes! After California experienced two of the most deadly and destructive wildfire seasons, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an Executive Order in January 2019 directing the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), in consultation with other state agencies and departments, to recommend immediate, near-term and long-term actions to help prevent destructive wildfires.
The Program: Recognizing a backlog in fuels management work combined with finite resources, the Governor emphasized that CAL FIRE pursue a strategic approach where necessary actions are focused on California’s most vulnerable communities to realize the greatest returns on reducing risk to life and property.
Immediate-Term Plan: CAL FIRE identified 35 priority projects to help safeguard over 200 communities. Project examples include removal of hazardous dead trees, vegetation clearing, creation of fuel breaks and community defensible spaces, and creation of ingress and egress corridors. In addition, they worked with over 40 entities including government and non-government stakeholders to identify administrative, regulatory and policy actions that can be taken in the next 12 months to begin systematically addressing community vulnerability and wildfire fuel buildup.
Impact: The 35 priority projects will collectively help protect 90,000 acres or 20% of the Forest Carbon Plan of treating 500,000 acres of private land each year.
Broader Needs: CAL FIRE’s projects are part of an all-of-the-above approach to protecting people and property. Further and broader action is imperative for multiple reasons. California faces a massive backlog of forest management work. Devastating fire disasters that have plagued California over the past several years appear to be increasing in severity, frequency, and destructiveness. And the proliferation of new homes in the wildland urban interface (WUI) magnify the threat and place substantially more people and property at risk than in preceding decades. Locally, based on a 2010 survey, 5.4% of all residences in San Mateo County and 20% of all residences in San Cruz county are in the WUI** Thus, millions of acres need treatment, and this work – once completed – must be repeated over the years.
Community Wildfire Prevention & Mitigation Report Prepared by CAL FIRE February 2019
Six Year Operating Plan 2019-2025 County of San Mateo Fire Department
Santa Cruz County San Mateo County Community Wildfire Protection Plan April 2018
Question: Can San Francisco Airport (SFO), the Bay Area’s largest airport and one of the region’s largest energy consumers, meet its zero net energy goal?
Answer: Yes, SFO’s Strategic Plan identifies key initiatives and actions to accomplish this goal. In Fiscal Year 2015/2016 (July through June), SFO budgeted $43.1 million for light, heat, and power to operate its facilities. That was a $1 million increase from the prior fiscal year. A 5% reduction in energy consumption could save the Airport $2.1 million per year. Cost savings is a key motivator for the Airport to achieve a zero net energy campus.
Key Initiatives: SFO is looking to achieve a zero net energy campus by 2021 through a range of initiatives. For example, the airport is able to send back unneeded energy on the grid thanks to a rooftop solar array which generates 136 kilowatts of energy. It adds value to climate change response by moving to reduce the airports impact to GHG generation. In addition, the airport is looking to reduce its energy consumption by ~11k megawatt hours, planting trees, reducing freshwater consumption, and improving land conservation. By doing so, the airport is helping the Bay Area adapt and actively engage in their push against climate change.
Impact: As of 2019, SFO has decreased energy use this calendar year to date by 1.5 GWh from a 2013 baseline, despite expanding infrastructure and increasing passenger traffic.
What is Zero Net Energy? The U.S. DOE defines a Zero Net Energy (ZNE) Building as an energy-efficient building where, on a source energy basis, the actual annual delivered energy is less than or equal to the on-site renewable exported energy. This definition also applies to other campuses, portfolios, and communities. A ZNE Airport therefore possesses renewable energy sources with a generation capacity that is equal to the Airport’s total energy consumption, without the use of onsite combustion.
Question: For communities grappling with infrastructure costs, can they afford to transition to clean energy?
Answer: Yes! Look to the small California towns of Sanger and Chowchilla. Both cities funded infrastructure changes for renewable energy with tomorrow’s savings. Sanger and Chowchilla sold bonds (backed by their future savings in energy) to fund their infrastructure change. They were able to pay everything off, and there were no increases in utility prices for consumers.
Two unique financial solutions:
Sanger, a city in Fresno County, California, has a population close to 30,000 people. The city faced an issue with their wastewater treatment plant and the city water system. Both systems needed repairs, but the city did not have the funds to do so. Electricity rates were rising annually, and the wastewater treatment plant consumed 40% of the county power bill. Sanger County used an innovative energy performance contracting vehicle where they financed the switch over to renewable energy and used the savings generated from transitioning to renewables as a bond that was sold in the financial infrastructure.
Chowchilla, a city in Madera County, California, has a population of 18,000 people. The city was facing issues their water pressure and the wells were running dry. The deferred maintenance cost on the wells and a rising utility bill meant that Chowchilla and its residents had to act fast. They used a similar approach to Sanger and created green bonds to help finance the repairs.
Sanger’s impact: The value add was that they were able to reduce their electricity costs, unemployment, and switch to a cleaner power source. This enabled both short-term and long-term benefits that Sanger will reap.
Chowchilla’s impact: Due to other tax incentives, they were able to reduce their borrowing costs by 4.8% and used the available funding towards their infrastructure. In addition, Chowchilla can return energy from their battery system to the grid, which allows the city to realize additional savings. Chowchilla is also able to reduce GHG emissions by 104 million pounds over the course of the 20-year lifespan of the program.
Model examples: Both of these cities were able to achieve savings and transition to using cleaner energy sources in a very cost-effective manner. These examples could serve as models for cities across the nation, and indeed the world, who are grappling with infrastructure costs and/or are looking to transition to clean energy.
Question: Can all Californians, regardless of age, race or income, build resiliency in the face of climate change? Already, temperatures in California are projected to rise another 1°F to 2.3°F over the coming decades, severe weather events will only increase, and coastal areas will experience rising sea levels. Amongst these, San Mateo County is especially vulnerable. Over 90,000 residents in San Mateo County live along San Francisco Bay in areas less than 3 feet above the high-water line, and more than half are racial or ethnic minorities. Social variables typically impact how individuals prepare for, respond to, and recover from “natural disasters”, but can that be addressed?
Answer: The process is complex but YES, we have the tools to help build resiliency even amongst the most vulnerable populations. To create resiliency, it must be understood that “natural disasters” aren’t “natural”. They are events which become disasters as they intersect with human activity.
An Idea Sprung from a Flood. The geographic, historic, and socio-economic characteristics of the area under threat must be understood. Ahmad Wani, One Concern, CEO learned this the hard way when he was stranded on a rooftop for 7 days during Kashmir floods in 2014 and almost died! The experience made him “realize that society is far more vulnerable to disasters than it needs to be” – Ahmad Wani, One Concern, CEO.
In 2015 he founded One Concern, a California based tech company that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to build more resilient businesses, infrastructure, and communities. One Concern software provides real-time intelligence that is predictive and actionable, enabling communities to better prepare for and respond to disasters.
How it works. One Concern uses human-made data and data derived from the natural environments in combination with live data. Integrating AI with foundational expertise in physical science, data science, and emergency & risk management, it draws relationships between datapoints to map the impact of disaster, assigning a digital fingerprint to human-made and natural environments and what binds them. This not only provides better response solutions to disaster events; it lets civil planners design and build-in resiliency, bringing together disaster response and urban planning. And since the technology learns, the more it is used, the better it gets.
Global vision with local impact. In the wake of climate change, One Concern is helping build a West Coast resilience network to save lives and livelihoods. By providing hyperlocal, near-real time insights on damage and the impacts on communities, One Concern provides unprecedented situational awareness. One Concern’s AI capabilities prepare communities like San Mateo County to respond to disasters on a micro level, considering their unique needs.
Source: To add
Question: Rising sea levels and flooding from extreme events could inundate and impact a roughly ten-mile stretch of Highway 101 in the Eureka-Arcata corridor in Humboldt County. What options could the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) consider to keep this critical transportation lifeline open?
Answer: Multiple adaption strategies have been proposed. They generally fall into three categories: protect, accommodate or relocate.
- Protect – The roadway could be protected by enhancing or building new dikes along the highway, and/or raising the road surface. Given the costs to enhance, build and maintain, Caltrans could look to partner with stakeholders such as shoreline property owners, PG&E, the City of Eureka, and Humboldt Community Services District, who would also benefit from these protective measures.
- Accommodate – Another option is to provide additional capacity for the water. This could be achieved by means such as removing tide gates, installing more culverts or replacing culverts with bridges, lengthening existing bridges, constructing elevated viaducts or replacing the entire low lying segment with an elevated viaduct.
- Relocate – Alternatively, if sea levels rise above 1.0 meters, it may not be possible to maintain the highway in its existing right of way. To potentially relocate the highway, the lengthy process would involve: planning, permitting and securing for a new right-of-way; building a new highway segment; and the removal of the abandoned highway structures. Relocation and abandonment of the highway could proceed in phases or all at once. But the costs, and the environmental and social consequences of relocating a major highway to the east of Humboldt Bay will be substantial.
Additional Monitoring and Proposals Required: In August 2019, Caltrans proposed some bridge, tide gate and other roadway improvements. The California Coastal Commission approved the work but with conditions.
Starting in 2020, Caltrans must start submitting bi-annual reports on sea level conditions. Additionally and more significantly, Caltrans must come back to the Commission with a more thorough and longer-term solution to address rising sea levels. The proposal must be presented by 2030 or within one year of the roadway being closed due to flooding four times over any 12 month period, whichever comes first.
Action is imperative for the communities of Humboldt Bay. As is, the existing hazard zone will likely be flooded more frequently and to greater depth. And without any other transportation options, long-term disruptions to Highway 101 would have a severe negative impact on the region.
Adjacent to Humboldt Bay, low lying segments of Highway 101 are susceptible to tides and rising waters from both west and east. Climate change and historical land use have made the area vulnerable. Currently, 75% of Humboldt Bay shoreline is artificial. If the shoreline is breached or overtopped today, Humboldt Bay could expand significantly, inundating nearly 9,000 acres of former salt marsh.
“How can the Highway 101 corridor on Humboldt Bay adapt to sea level rise” by Aldaron Laird, October 2014.
https://www.coastal.ca.gov/meetings/agenda/#/2019/8 – open document for item #11a “Application No. 1-18-1078 (California Dept. of Transportation (Caltrans), Humboldt Co.)”
Question: Future water resources are threatened by a myriad of forces including warmer temperatures, changing precipitation and runoff patterns, reduced snow packs and rising sea level. Can anything be done to safeguard water resources in the wake of climate change?
Answer: Yes! Valley Water (formerly the Santa Clara Water District), for example, is taking a multi-pronged approach, with plans to both adapt to and mitigate for climate change.
The Program: Valley Water’s mission is to provide a clean, reliable water supply, maintain natural flood protection, and champion water resource stewardship for Santa Clara County’s 1.9 million residents. To ensure it can fulfill its mission, Valley Water is working to both reduce the district’s vulnerability to climate change risks and to lessen its potential contributions to the problem.
Adapt and Mitigate: To adapt to or to prepare for climate change, Valley Water has been advancing multiple strategies including water conservation and recycled water usage, increasing water supply flexibility, addressing rising sea levels, supporting ecosystem functions and habitat restoration.
Additionally, to ensure effective and coordinated management of these strategies, the water district is preparing a climate change action plan (2019) and has dedicated resources to monitor the state of the science and evolving regulations, and to ensure they are considered in project and program planning across the district.
At the same time, to mitigate or to reduce its potential contributions to global warming via green house emissions, Valley Water aims for carbon neutrality by 2020 and is following a climate divestment policy.
- Successful conservation efforts. During the most recent drought, the water district asked the community to cut back on their water, and the community stepped up, saving as much as 28 percent over 2013 water use levels. The district has also offered rebates for residents and businesses, including rebates for converting lawns to drought-tolerant landscapes, for using water from washing machines in landscapes, and for irrigation system upgrades.
- Improved flood protection. In the last few decades, Valley Water has invested more than $1 billion in flood protection efforts to protect nearly 100,000 parcels with many more projects planned. The efforts have saved Santa Clara County residents over $2 million annually in reduced or eliminated flood insurance premiums.
- On track for carbon neutrality- As of January 2019, the Valley Water is currently on track to be carbon neutral by 2020, meaning more greenhouse gas emissions will be offset than emitted in the delivery and management of the county’s water resources.
Question: Can looking to our history help point us towards a more sustainable future?
Answer: Yes! By rediscovering the 10,000-year-old Ohlone culture the Spanish expedition led by Gaspar de Portol’a first saw here in 1769. Prior to the colonization which followed the expedition the San Francisco Bay area was rich with diverse varieties of animals and plants. The Ohlone people lived sustainably through careful land and resource management. Learning from the longsighted land and resource management philosophy of the Ohlone people which sustained them for thousands of years contemporary methods for long-term sustainable management can be developed, even for the current large urban centers of today’s Bay area.
The Program: The Ohlone-Portolá Heritage Trail will be made up of existing trails and trails to be built. The trail system will allow hikers, equestrians, and bicyclists, to relive the Portolá expedition’s route as it made its way through San Mateo County. It will also include a route for cars. The trail will present interpretive messaging which tells the stories of two cultures, commemorating the Portolá expedition, the first Europeans to sight San Francisco Bay by land, and honoring the Ohlone people, there history and culture, who welcomed and assisted them. The trail will link the Ohlone peoples with the 250 years of multi-cultural changes which began with the Portolá expedition. The trail has 45 miles existing and 45 to be constructed, and when completed it will be possible to have many trail lodging opportunities particularly on the 50 miles of coastside replicating historic Ohlone villages and Portol’a expedition camps along the historic Ohlone trade routes.
Long Term Plan: To create a regional network of recreational trails and roadways extending north from the San Mateo – Santa Cruz county line and Año Nuevo State Park to the City of Pacifica, eastward over Sweeney Ridge, and then south to the City of Menlo Park. Over 60 different partners are involved in this collaborative effort. Once completed The Ohlone-Portolà Heritage Trail will follow Ohlone trade routes while weaving through the 90-mile-long path of Portolà’s expedition across San Mateo County. It will also connect the expedition’s campsites with the nearby Ohlone villages that offered food and assistance to the European explorers. Devoting equal weight to both the expedition and the Ohlone culture and how the two cultures interacted as the Portolà’s expedition ultimately altered the course of history in San Mateo County and California. The Ohlone traditions and customs will be presented including how their sustainable hunting, agriculture, and watershed management practices supported their culture for 10,000 years. The plan includes a recommendation to designate the Trail as a State Historic Trail to the State Historic Preservation Office.
Impact: The trail will provide a greenway supporting recreational activities for hikers, equestrians, and bicyclists. The Ohlone-Portolà Heritage Trail will be a history lesson recognizing both the significance of the Portolá Expedition and the enduring legacy of the Ohlone people, educating the public on Ohlone perspectives for living together and use of resources to maintain sustainable communities. It is the story of two peoples meeting for the first time and the friendly interaction that occurred as a result of the Ohlone hospitality. It will also help develop an understanding on the role of colonization, subsequent to the Portolá Expedition, in undermining the Ohlone culture and identify opportunities for integrating relevant aspects of Ohlone culture into current approaches towards developing sustainable communities.
Question: Can sidewalks help address sustainability goals?
Answer: Yes! Pavegen Systems has created paving slabs that can turn the kinetic energy from footsteps into electricity to power street lamps, etc. One footstep can power an LED lightbulb for 20 seconds. Installing these paving slabs in busy walking areas, such as in the popular downtown walking areas of Redwood City, will save money in the future and could be an attraction point.
People Power: Pavegen is transitioning cities into smart hubs. Through Internet of Things technology and smart infrastructure, Pavegen is able to create a new vision of a smart city, one that uses its people (through their footsteps) to power the infrastructure around it, while providing data and a uniquely engaging city experience. Through their innovative technology, they are able to produce 3 joules of energy per footstep or 5 watts of power when someone is walking, which is enough to power applications such as environmental sensors, LED lighting, screens and even for battery storage.
Short-and Long-Term Goals: Pavegen’s short-term goal is to increase their presence in retail, smart cities, and education markets. Long term, their vision is to create a new type of smart city, one that is unique, sustainable, and connects people in ways they have never been connected before. They have small projects across the globe, from London to Washington D.C.
Impact: They are addressing the pressing issue of how we can make our cities smarter and more sustainable as global populations continue to move into cities. Cities tend to be the worst emitters of pollution, so it behooves governments and municipalities across the world to act now so that we can make our cities more sustainable. Pavegen is helping this by creating a cleaner source of energy, one powered by people. Their approach is definitely interesting and can serve as a source of inspiration into the various ways we can power our cities.
Question: Can a local electricity provider aim to hit multiple sustainability targets?
Answer: Yes! Peninsula Clean Energy (PCE) is a locally controlled electricity provider in San Mateo County. Their initiatives aim to improve economic and energy performance in San Mateo County and to address social inequality by making access to electric vehicles more affordable.
Clean Energy and EV Access at Competitive Rates: PCE’s goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide clean electricity to customers at competitive rates. They use a mix of renewable energy sources such as solar, hydro, and wind power to serve their customers.
- With initiatives such as ECO Plus, ECO 100, and rooftop solar, PCE is able to give customers the option to use clean forms of energy for their electricity and reduce their costs to themselves and the environment.
- PCE also has a variety of pilot programs aimed at repairing the homes of low-income residents, promoting access to electric vehicles, switching appliances from gas to electric, providing clean backup power for emergency shelters, and ensuring safe appliance recycling.
- In addition, PCE offers income based initiatives to support the transition to electric vehicles (EV). These include tax benefits for purchasing used electric vehicles, such as the Drive Forward Electric program. The program offers a $4,000 tax incentive for lower income residents in San Mateo who purchase used plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. This makes it easier for lower income residents to gain access to EV’s at affordable prices.
- Finally, in 2018 PCE’s board approved an $18 million program to install and support EV charging infrastructure at residential and workplace locations in San Mateo County.
Impact: Through their efforts, PCE will save San Mateo County $18 million dollars annually, avoid 515 million pounds of carbon, and remove the equivalent of 50,000 cars worth of emissions from the road.
More to Come! On the horizon, PCE’s short-term goals include but are not limited to, developing a greenhouse gas free portfolio by 2021, stimulating the development of renewable energy and storage projects in San Mateo County, and maximizing and maintaining the number of customers who participate in their programs.
Model Program: PCE adds additional value because it serves as a model for local counties to consider the programs and benefits they might offer to utilize the switch to renewable power sources. The combination of federal, state and county initiatives create a compelling motive for people and businesses alike.