No high resolution image exists...
As Greenwise Sacramento continues to formulate a strategy for making Sacramento into Mayor Kevin Johnson’s vision of the “Emerald Valley,” San Francisco Mayor and candidate for Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom came to Tuesday’s monthly meeting to offer inspiration and guidance.
“Global consumption is nothing more than the sum of all local consumption,” Newsom said, adding that movements like Greenwise Sacramento are the key to moving forward when progress is stalled at the federal level.
The meeting was held at California State University, Sacramento, and the several-hundred-strong audience consisted of regional business owners, politicians, students and others interested in energy efficiency.
“The impact local mayors have is astounding,” Newsom said, pointing out that more than 1,000 mayors across the nation have put together local global climate action plans.
Newsom is no stranger to “going green,” as San Francisco is a leader in energy efficiency, with a public transit system 100 percent run on alternative fuel and 2008 pollution levels having been brought to below 1990 levels despite increased population.
In converting the city’s diesel vehicles to biodiesel, Newsom said lard and oil from restaurants was picked up by the city, whereas owners had previously had to pay to have it removed.
“It was a win-win,” he said.
The next step is making the city’s taxis run on alternative fuel – something he said is well under way.
Newsom also brought composting to San Francisco, which was a very heated political issue.
“Gay marriage was not controversy,” Newsom said. “Requiring composting in my city was controversy.”
In accomplishing all of those goals, Newsom said it was necessary to work with other cities in the region.
“You can’t go this alone,” Newsom said.
“If we can all get in the same room and learn from each other,” Johnson said, “we’re going to be that much stronger and that much closer to attaining that goal.”
He reiterated that Greenwise Sacramento would fail if it wasn’t done in conjunction with the other cities in the region.
In the current economy, Johnson and Newsom both said creating jobs is a top priority.
Newsom said the old way of thinking was that it was a choice between preserving the environment or making money, but the actuality is that it’s possible – even necessary – to do both simultaneously.
One of the biggest places pollution can be cut is in buildings, Newsom said, adding that retrofitting them to be more energy-efficient is helpful to both the environment and the profit margin of a business.
He likened energy efficiency in a building to gas mileage in a vehicle.
Mike McKeever, from the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, is the team leader for Greenwise Sacramento’s Urban Design and Green Building Team, and he said the Sacramento area’s devastated building industry can benefit from doing building retrofits if a regional standard is set.
“We’re pushing for a retrofit sector,” he said. “Setting a goal is necessary.”
Inevitably, Proposition 23 was brought up, which would effectively cancel out Assembly Bill 32, which requires pollution levels be brought back to 1998 standards by 2020 in California. It has recently been a topic at the city level as well.
“I don’t get why this is such a big deal,” Newsom said. “(Reducing pollution levels in San Francisco) was remarkably simple. This is not very complicated.”
Jacobe Caditz of the Sacramento Tree Foundation attended the event and said he felt inspired by Newsom’s comments.
“I thought it was nice to hear the things San Francisco has done, and it sets a good bar here in Sacramento,” Caditz said. “We are definitely capable of achieving the same things.”
Meeting attendee John Argo works in the renewable energy development field and said Newsom’s message was excellent.
“I think we can easily do so much more,” he said, adding that one of the key differences in Sacramento is the amount of state and local government, which have the ability to enact policies that can have a wider-ranging impact.
Newsom urged all politicians to take risks and think long-term when it comes to energy efficiency.
“All the rhetoric in the world is not going to solve this,” he said. “You’ve got to support bold leadership.”
The next Greenwise Sacramento meeting is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Sept. 30 at the Crest Theatre and will feature Pulitzer-prize-winning author and journalist Thomas L. Friedman.
Brandon Darnell is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press.