California commercial real estate ramps up use of alternative energy sources
Bisnow – September 13
Stem is one of a number of alternative energy companies seeing an increase in demand from commercial real estate businesses, according to California Solar & Storage Association (CALSSA) Executive Director Bernadette Del Chiaro. Stem offers AI-powered batteries to cities, businesses, and commercial real estate companies like LBA Realty, Macerich, and Granite Construction. Such storage capacity, which is often paired with on-site solar, is affording users resiliency during power outages and the ability to avoid high-demand rates, Del Chiaro said. The state is seeing about 3,000 nonresidential solar projects installed each year, she stated. CALSSA projects that at least a flat growth rate continues, meaning another 30,000 commercial properties go solar in the next decade, doubling the existing stock. But Del Chiaro and others in the field say they see signs that the number of nonresidential solar projects could exceed expectations in California and elsewhere, thanks in large part to a growing emphasis on sustainability.
California awards first grants in $600 million plan to shelter homeless
Courthouse News Service – September 16
As California battles dozens of large wildfires and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Governor Gavin Newsom said Wednesday that the state is maintaining its focus on eradicating homelessness by distributing the first community grants under its $600 million program to convert motels, hotels, and vacant apartment buildings into long-term housing. As part of the effort to curb Covid-19 infections, Newsom this year launched Project Roomkey, a program that uses state funds to provide shelter for homeless people, or people at risk of becoming homeless, in hotel and motel rooms. One of the largest awards went to the city of San Jose, which will use $14.5 million to convert a 76-unit property currently operating under Project Roomkey into a permanent housing project.
Microgrid helps Kaiser Permanente achieve a first for carbon neutrality in healthcare
Microgrid Knowledge – September 15
Kaiser Permanente has become the first integrated, non-profit healthcare system in the U.S. to achieve carbon neutrality, a feat accomplished with the help of a renewable microgrid. Located at a hospital in Richmond, California, the microgrid is among the technologies that the healthcare provider pursued to eliminate its 800,000-ton annual carbon footprint, the equivalent of taking 175,000 cars off the road. Other strategies include renewable energy procurement, energy efficiency measures, purchase of carbon offsets, and use of low-polluting anesthesia gas.
The West Coast’s extreme heat and wildfires have another hidden danger
Fast Company – September 16
According to recent research, a large amount of California’s subsidized housing is located in areas facing risk of wildfire or the impacts of extreme heat—two problems only expected to get worse as the climate continues to change. Two studies coauthored by C.J. Gabbe, an assistant professor of urban planning at Santa Clara University, quantify just how vulnerable California is, and point to the kinds of policy changes needed to protect the entire population. Research Gabbe conducted with professors from UCLA and Santa Clara University found that there are 140,000 units of subsidized housing in California’s wildland-urban interface, or WUI, where human development meets the forest. Gabbe’s other research found a disproportionate fraction of California’s subsidized housing is located in areas known to experience extreme heat but with few options for addressing the heat, such as tree canopy cover, better insulated housing, access to parks, and the financial ability to afford cooling.
Redwood City moves to ban gas in new developments
The Daily Journal – September 16
The Redwood City Council passed a series of all-electric reach codes this Monday, frequently referencing unprecedented wildfires and unhealthy air quality as environmental red flags requiring action by the region. The reach codes are meant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by requiring all new developments to use fully electric appliances. The codes will need to be reviewed and approved by the California Energy Commission following a 60-day public comment period before taking effect. Exemptions would include 100% affordable housing developments, commercial developments with kitchens, medical facilities, scientific labs, and instances of infeasibility.
ACLU sues Palo Alto over residents-only park
San Francisco Chronicle – September 15
The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California sued Palo Alto this Tuesday over its more-than-50-year policy banning nonresidents from using bucolic Foothills Park, calling the prohibition “a legacy of the city’s history of racial discrimination.” The suit charges that the ban — in place since shortly after the park opened in 1965 — is unconstitutional and insists that the gates of Foothills Park should be open to anyone. Only 1.6% of Palo Alto’s population is Black, a stark contrast with adjacent East Palo Alto, which has a Black population of 16.7%. The suit claims the ordinance perpetuates Palo Alto’s history of housing discrimination and racial exclusion that lasted into the 1950s.