San Mateo could join emissions-reduction group 

A possible partnership with a Silicon Valley environmental group could help San Mateo save energy, save the environment and save some cash.

A partnership with Sustainable Silicon Valley — a collaboration between the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, California Environmental Protection Agency and other organizations — could make San Mateo eligible for some of the $6.4 million in PG&E refunds the power company sets aside for partners of the group.

If they join Sustainable Silicon Valley, which tracks the carbon dioxide emissions from its partners, San Mateo leaders would select a year and use that as a starting point to begin reducing emissions. Sustainable Silicon Valleycalculates emissions based on the amount of electricity, natural gas and fossil fuels used annually. The amount of money San Mateo receives depends on how much it reduces emissions.

The partnership was just one of several options for improving environmental policies discussed at Monday night’s City Council study session.

"Climate change is getting a lot of attention now, and individuals, whether they’re members of a city or a company, want to see that their employers and cities are taking action, and SSV is a vehicle to organizations to do just that," SSV Executive Director Sally Tomlinson said.

"Signing a pledge is one thing, but making that measurable check-in each year is very important to monitoring your efforts," Tomlinson added.

Despite taking strides in making the city more environmentally friendly, local leaders are still looking for ways to reduce waste, emissions and energy usage through San Mateo.

"The city has done a pretty remarkable job, but there is vast room for improvement," Councilman Brandt Grotte said.

The city is also going to push for more of its developments to meet standards set by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program. The city is pushing for a certification from the program for its new police station, Project Manager Patty McHugh said.

"We just need to commit to more and move forward with it. This isn’t rocket science," Grotte said.

Last year, the businesses, cities and nonprofit institutions that pledged to partner with Sustainable Silicon Valley eliminated 477,000 tons of carbon dioxide, equivalent to avoiding one million barrels of oil or taking 93,000 cars off the road for a year, according to Tomlinson.

jgoldman@examiner.com

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