The City of Pleasanton, like Hacienda itself, has a long record of promoting sustainability in many different areas. This year is no exception. The city recently introduced a sustainability resource for the public in the form of a new website; officials have started the process to update the City of Pleasanton's 2012 Climate Action Plan; and the City Council voted unanimously to join East Bay Community Energy, which would give residents and businesses a choice of more than one electricity provider, including sustainable sourced power.
"The City of Pleasanton is committed to taking sustainably conscious steps forward today in order to address climate change and environmental health for future generations of Pleasantonians," says Zack Reda, Energy and Sustainability Coordinator for the City of Pleasanton.
A new City of Pleasanton website went live in August. SustainablePleasanton.com was designed as a one-stop resource for Pleasanton residents and business owners. The website offers information on how to conserve energy and water, contribute to clean air, reduce waste, and offer other tips related to sustainability. It also promotes local activities that help support a more sustainable city.
SustainablePleasanton.com opens by showing a moving Pleasanton street that cycles through various areas you may see in the city. Visitors can wave a mouse over the image of individual buildings, a park, a bike, a car, a bus, or other objects and the screen will freeze on that item. Selecting an item will lead visitors to a new page related to that image with additional links about waste management, energy conservation, clean water, or related topics.
Visitors who prefer text can simply scroll below the illustrated street for bulleted topics for residents or business owners to access the same information. The new website helps visitors "pick up proper disposal techniques and learn about other ways to reduce their carbon footprint," says Reda. "This helps people practice environmental stewardship while also saving money on their water or utility bills."
Reda encourages residents, employees, and business people to check out the website to learn about aspects of sustainability practices, particularly those that may be new or unfamiliar. Visitors may go to the website to find out about water conservation and then learn about different rebates that the city offers, for example. The city has a free controller assistance program in which city staff will go to residents' homes to review their irrigation controllers and will change them if needed. That saves water while preventing outdoor plants from becoming over watered.
In addition to the new website, the City of Pleasanton is updating its existing Climate Action Plan to address greenhouse gas emissions for the years 2030 and 2050. "To comply with state regulations, the city wants to find the most feasible, sustainable, and efficient ways to reduce emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050," says Reda. Residents can expect to hear more about Climate Action Plan 2.0, as Pleasanton officials call it, over the course of next year as Pleasanton seeks input from residents and business owners before an updated plan is finalized and approved in 2021.
Residents can also expect to hear about East Bay Community Energy, also known as EBCE, over the course of 2020. The City of Pleasanton and EBCE plan an outreach program to educate residents about Alameda County's new electricity supplier. EBCE provides cleaner, greener energy at rates that are 1.5% lower than PG&E's rates, according to EBCE. The nonprofit reinvests earnings back into the community to create green energy jobs, programs, and clean power projects within the county.
EBCE was created by the County of Alameda and 11 of its cities to create a more sustainable energy supply. EBCE member cities include Albany, Berkeley, Dublin, Emeryville, Fremont, Hayward, Livermore, Oakland, Piedmont, San Leandro, and Union City. After the work is completed for Pleasanton to become a member, residents and business members will automatically be enrolled in EBCE sometime in 2021. The program is optional and all affected by the change can opt out and remain as PG&E customers if they prefer.
In 2013, Pleasanton was recognized by the Institute for Local Government with a Platinum Spotlight Award for Sustainability Best Practice Activities as a result of efforts spanning many years. When it comes to energy conservation, for example, several years ago the city introduced a Green Building Ordinance that went into effect in 2006. Under that ordinance, new projects and renovations of more than 2,000 square feet must meet LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification requirements or achieve minimum standards on a green building rating system.
In terms of water conservation, Pleasanton has provided free faucet aerators and water-efficient shower heads to residents since 2008. The city also adopted a Landscape Ordinance with standards higher than those of even the State of California's Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance. It was designed to conserve and promote the efficient use of water in a state often burdened by drought by establishing a structure for planning, designing, installing, maintaining, and managing the landscape of new and rehabilitated projects. It also established provisions for existing landscapes for water management practices and water waste prevention.
In terms of waste reduction and recycling, twice a year the city hosts free e-waste and pharmaceutical drop off events for residents to keep these items out of landfills. Each event typically nets 700 pounds of pharmaceuticals and 49,000 pounds of e-waste, according to the Institute for Local Government.
Being mindful of maintaining open space as well as offsetting carbon emission activities are also issues that the City of Pleasanton takes seriously. The Callippe Preserve Golf Course, for example, is owned and maintained by the city. As an Audubon Sanctuary-certified golf course, many parts of the course are designated for native and riparian habitats or preservation areas to protect endangered and threatened species. According to the Institute for Local Government, 176 acres on and around the course have been designated as permanent natural habitat or preserve. Of those acres, 17 are located within the golf course in the form of native channels. More than 3,000 native plants were planted in the channel and are monitored regularly.
The City of Pleasanton is hardly alone in making sustainability activities a priority. Alameda County's StopWaste is a public agency that helps businesses, residents, and schools waste less, recycle properly, and use water, energy, and other resources efficiently. The agency, governed by the Alameda County Waste Management Authority, the Alameda County Source Reduction and Recycling Board, and the Energy Council, is a valuable resource on how to reduce waste and pollution.
In keeping with the best practices established in the community, Hacienda also has a long history of actively implementing sustainable practices and designs. The development has significantly reduced the energy needed for its infrastructure. It has reduced the demand placed on the electrical system through a variety of upgrades, including the installation of energy-efficient equipment and clean energy systems. Hacienda also conducted energy-efficient lighting retrofits throughout the development, and sustainable design elements are incorporated into every new project.
Water conservation has been effectively achieved through the use of specialized irrigation equipment and the use of recycled water made available by the city. Hacienda projects, beyond being subject to the city's green building requirements, have often exceeded those standards and won independent recognition for their sustainable design and functionality.
"The SustainablePleasanton.com website can help you help answer a lot of questions that you may be unsure about," notes Reda. That is important to remember, as it may seem complicated to make a household or company more sustainable. But the City of Pleasanton, Alameda County, and Hacienda all offer examples of small changes that add up to big results.
For more information about the City of Pleasanton and its sustainability programs and advice, please visit SustainablePleasanton.com.
To follow developments with the City of Pleasanton's Climate Action Plan, please visit www.cityofpleasantonca.gov/gov/depts/os/env/energy_and_sustainability.asp.
For more information about East Bay Community Energy, please visit www.ebce.org.
For more information about Hacienda and its sustainability efforts, please visit www.hacienda.org/location/project-overview/sustainability.