- Counter-intuitive behavior change tips, books, trainings, studies (Dr. Doug McKenzie-Mohr)
- Planning for housing and job growth (Urban Growth Boundary), 1979, Portland, OR
- First U.S. city to use city property for clean tech companies (Demonstration Partnership Resolution), 2008, San Jose, CA
- Interactive map of which cities are greener (Marin Sustainability Tracker), 2015, Marin County, CA
- One-of-a-kind environmental education experiences for youth (Green Schools Program), 2009, Santa Cruz County, CA
Climate Change & Resiliency
Climate change will worsen asthma, the spread of disease carrying insects, and increase heat-related deaths. For example, 700 people died in Chicago in 1995, partially because dark roofs and pavement absorb sunlight and raise local temperatures. So join cities in planting trees, turning pavement into grass to cool down temperatures, and trying these ideas:
- First U.S. city to use a surcharge on staff airfare to fund local green projects (Carbon Fund), 2009, San Francisco, CA
CLIMATE ACTION PLANS
- First U.S. city creating green jobs for energy and water efficient buildings (LA Green Retrofit and Workforce Program), 2009, Los Angeles, CA
- City divests $1 million from polluting fossil fuels (Resolution Establishing Investment Instructions), 2013, Santa Monica, CA
The largest source of pollution from greenhouse gas emissions from human activities in the U.S. is from burning fossil fuels for electricity. So consider trying solutions below.
COMMUNITY CHOICE Energy(CCE)
- Helping policymakers create policies so residents and businesses can choose clean electricity (LEAN Energy US)
- First CA county where residents and businesses can choose clean electricity (Marin Clean Energy Program), 2010, Marin County, CA
ENERGY & WATER EFFICIENCY
Buildings consume 41% of all U.S. energy to heat, cool and keep lights and appliances on. And 91% of it is dirty energy. With programs and policies below, you can improve how hot or cold you feel by managing heating and cooling systems efficiently. And if you improve lighting design, it can result in a 27% reduction in the incidence of headaches, which costs about $70 per employee annually in health insurance.
- Requiring businesses to get a 30 min. water and energy evaluation (Free Resource & Energy Business Evaluation Ordinance), 2009, Chula Vista, CA
- Requiring non-residential buildings to disclose energy use (Existing Commercial Buildings Energy Performance Ordinance), 2011, San Francisco, CA
- Rebates, contests, financing and contractors to help residents and businesses not lose money, water and energy (Energy Upgrade CA Program)
- First Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) customer to use excess electricity at other city facilities (Biogas Cogeneration Upgrade Project), 2013, Hayward, CA
Buying green products and services can protect human rights, our health and environment.
- Contract specifications, policies, and webinars (Responsible Purchasing Network)
- Awards, annual summits, and webinars (Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council)
- Requiring city facilities to prevent waste, buy products that are processed chlorine-free, non-PVC, recycled (Resource Conservation Ordinance), 2007, San Francisco, CA
One in three of us will get cancer. But you can try to prevent that with tips, programs and policies below.
HEALTHY FOOD SYSTEMS
Fruits and vegetables in your supermarket are often harvested too early because they are grown hundreds of miles away. You might get tastier, more nutritious produce if it's local, in-season and ripened on the vine.
- Affordable, local, healthy, sustainable food for all (Local Food Action Initiative Resolution), 2008, Seattle, WA
- First U.S. city to sign Cool Foods Pledge to buy local, organic (Sustainable Food Commitment), Santa Monica, CA, 2008
You pay about $9,000 a year to own a car. Vehicles using fossil fuels like gas and diesel cause air pollution which causes three million premature deaths a year, asthma, heart attacks and premature births. So try these ideas instead:
BIKING & WALKING
- Rent and return a bike to a different or same city (Bay Area Bike Share), 2013, San Francisco Bay Area, CA
- Fee to developers to make it easier for you to ride public transit, bike and walk (Transportation Impact Fee Ordinance), 2013, Santa Monica, CA
ELECTRIC VEHICLE (EV) INFRASTRUCTURE
- The city with the most EVs per capita with 1,000 charging stations (Plug-in EV Adoption Program), 2011, San Diego, CA
When you take public transit, you can benefit from an average of 19 minutes of exercise a day walking or biking to and from your transit stops.
- Save up to 30% to ride public transit or vanpools, or bike to work (Commuter Benefits Ordinance), 2009, San Francisco, CA
Protecting endangered animals or plants, and food crops can reduce disease in all living things including people. Losing biodiversity of species can result in a loss of jobs, food, medicines and industries that support life.
- Requiring buildings and landscapes to avoid harming wildlife and plants (Wildlife Impact Report Regulation), 1998, Boulder County, CO
One of the first cities to prevent birds killed by buildings (Bird-Safe Buildings Planning Code), 2011, San Francisco, CA
You can benefit from being in a green building because it can improve your: access to views which improves your productivity by up to 23%, indoor air quality which reduced communicable respiratory diseases by 9-20% and allergies and asthma by 18-25%, and commute because it gets credits if it's close to public transit and restaurants.
- First U.S. city creating green jobs for energy and water efficient buildings (Green Retrofit & Workforce Program), 2009, Los Angeles, CA
- Requires new private buildings over 10,000 square feet to be LEED Silver or higher (Private Sector Green Building Ordinance), 2009, San Jose, CA
- Requiring city departments to reduce water by 10-20% by 2017 (Emergency Drought Response Executive Directive), 2014, Los Angeles, CA
SOURCE WATER PROTECTION
- One of the most ambitious plans to be 100% water self-sufficient (Water Self-Sufficiency Plan 2020), 2012, Santa Monica, CA
Animals accidentally eat cigarette butts which can give them seizures. You can change that with this policy:
- First and last CA fee to cleanup cigarettes (Cigarette Litter Abatement Fee Ordinance), 2009, San Francisco, CA
COMPOST & RECYCLING
If you put compostables (food, plants, paper foodware, plastics labelled “compostable" not “biodegradable") in the landfill, you create polluting greenhouse gasses. So join cities below in preventing that:
- Most comprehensive U.S. composting and recycling law (Recycling and Composting Ordinance), 2009, San Francisco, CA
- Achieving zero waste by 2022 (Zero Waste Resolution), 2008, San Jose, CA
- Requiring all building materials, packaging, vegetation to be reused or recycled (Construction and Demolition Ordinance), 2006, San Francisco, CA
Cutting trees to make products like paper takes away homes from wildlife, and causes landslides and flooding. You can address that with these policies:
- Requiring City departments to reduce paper and buy 100% recycled paper (Paper Use Reduction and Recycled Paper Procurement Directive), 2008, Mill Valley, CA
Plastic litter ends up in our water and breaks into toxic microplastics that end up in the flesh (tissue) of fish people eat. And cats, turtles, and other animals accidentally eat plastic bags and choke, or their stomach gets lined with bags so they cannot eat, or they get poisoned by plastic. You can prevent that with these policies:
- Bag Ban Tool Kit and all U.S. bag bans (Californians Against Waste)
- First city in the U.S. to ban plastic bags in food establishments and retailers (Checkout Bag Ordinance), 2007, San Francisco, CA
- Banning plastic bags in grocery, convenience stores and pharmacies (Single-Use Bag Ordinance), 2010, Los Angeles County, CA
Styrene in foam foodware can leach into food and can cause cancer in humans. And polystyrene foam breaks into smaller, non-biodegradable pieces that are eaten by animals, which can harm or kill them. But you can prevent that with these bans:
- USA's strictest ban on foam foodware, packaging, coolers, toys, buoys and more (Food Service and Packaging Waste Reduction Ordinance), 2016, San Francisco, CA
- Banning retailers from selling foam foodware, coolers, packaging and requiring compostable or recyclable foodware (Non-Recyclable Food Ware Ordinance), 2010, Richmond, CA
- Banning non-recyclable foodware for all prepared food providers and City events (Non-Recyclable Food Service Container Ban), 2007, Santa Monica, CA
- Requiring manufacturers to design products and packaging to be less-toxic, longer-lasting and recyclable (California Product Stewardship Council)