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Sustainable Development Update
May 10, 2017

Sustainable Development Focus

How green infrastructure manages stormwater, enhances property values

Urban Land - May 3 The growing involvement of the real estate industry in helping municipalities manage stormwater runoff with systems using natural resources is explored in a new ULI publication, Harvesting the Value of Water: Stormwater, Green Infrastructure, and Real Estate. The report looks at how water management mechanisms using green infrastructure can create value for real estate projects by improving operational efficiency as well as serving as an attractive amenity. Green infrastructure, explains the report, includes pipes-and-pumps alternatives such as rain gardens, bioswales, and green roofs, which are often accompanied by water storage and recycling tools such as cisterns. Sustainable stormwater management practices can provide health benefits for building users as well as environmental benefits. The report points out that a rising number of local governments are creating coordinated citywide green infrastructure networks including both public and private properties. 

Fremont to require solar panels, EV chargers in new homes

East Bay Times - May 3 The Fremont City Council last Tuesday voted to require the installation of solar panels at new housing developments, as well as wiring for electric vehicle charging stations to reduce energy consumption. The council’s action attempts to place Fremont at the forefront of California’s goal of getting all new homes built to a “zero net energy” level by 2020. The size of the solar panel system mandated for both single-family and multifamily housing built in the city will be determined by the size of the homes on a sliding scale, up to 4,449 square feet. Homes 4,500 square feet or larger will be measured differently, though still subject to the requirements. The California Building Standards Commission and the Energy Commission both need to sign off on the solar panel rules before they can be implemented in the city. 

Bay Area Rapid Transit will run trains on 100% renewable energy

Greentech Media - May 5 The BART board of directors has passed an electrical portfolio policy that requires half of the organization's power to come from renewables by 2025, and 100 percent by 2045. That has broader implications for the region, because the electric train system consumes roughly 400,000 megawatt-hours annually -- equivalent to a small city like Alameda. This will be the first use of a 2015 California law that gave BART in particular the freedom to choose renewable power suppliers on the wholesale market. Before that, the district could procure preference power from a federal power marketing agency or buy from a municipal utility. 

‘Mansionization’ and home remodeling are obliterating urban greenscapes by reducing trees, study says

San Gabriel Valley Tribune - May 1 The remodeling of single-family homes, including the controversial practice known as “mansionization,” has resulted in the destruction of the urban forest in Los Angeles County cities by as much as 55 percent, according to a study released last Monday. USC researchers calculated at least a 10 percent average decline in green cover from 2000 to 2009 across the 20 largest cities studied, as homeowners squeezed bigger homes with additional bathrooms and bedrooms on same-sized lots. The consequences can include a loss of carbon sequestration, since trees produce oxygen and intake carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that causes global climate change, the study said. As temperatures rise, the replacement of urban trees with concrete, driveways, and bigger homes on smaller setbacks could amplify the heat island effect, in which air temperatures multiply as the sun radiates off the hard-scape.

California microgrid roadmap effort identifies 120 microgrids in the state

Microgrid Knowledge - Apr 28 Navigant Research presented data at the California microgrid workshop on April 25, hosted by the California Energy Commission’s research and development division, showing that California boasts more than 120 existing, developing, and proposed microgrid projects, adding up to 650 megawatts of peak capacity, with many using solar PV. The aim of the roadmap is to identify ways to commercialize microgrids in California. The most common source of distributed generation is solar PV, with a total capacity of about 296 megawatts, or 45 percent of the total peak capacity of the microgrids. Institutional and campus microgrids make up the largest segment, with 34 projects totaling 185 megawatts or 28 percent of the total capacity, according to the presentation. Fifteen projects have come online since 2015, said Navigant researchers.

Florida legislature unanimously passes solar tax break

PV-Tech - May 5 In a 33-0 vote, the Florida legislature has passed SB 90 – the bill that would implement Amendment 4 and make solar and renewable energy equipment on commercial buildings exempt from property taxes for 20 years, beginning in 2018. The measure now moves on to governor Rick Scott after passing unanimously through the senate. If Scott approves the bill and signs it into law, businesses that install solar panels will be exempt from additional property taxes. The legislation was first approved by 73 percent of Floridians who voted for the solar tax break in August 2016. 

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