Chronology of Climate Protection Initiatives

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One of the Town's deeply held values and a major community goal in the Town's General Plan is limiting the use of planning area lands so that the landscape's natural attributes  “can be sustained over time.” The goals further state that the Town will take actions to greatly reduce disturbance to the environment, lessen resident exposure to natural hazards, protect the watershed and, specifically, “minimize the use of non-renewable resources, conserve water, and encourage energy conservation and the use of renewable energy resources.”

Since the adoption of the General Plan in 1964, Town land use standards and regulations have been taken up and refined to support and implement these General Plan goals. Examples include limitations on site disturbance and scope of permitted building area as well as encouraging the use of drought tolerant landscaping.

The specific Climate Protection Initiatives pursued since early 2000 are part of an organic progression of community efforts to further implement these goals.

Activities are listed in reverse chronological order.

FALL 2009

·       Town expects completion of LEED certification process for new Town Center in Fall 2009


·       Town will adopt a green building ordinance requiring all new homes and major remodels to achieve a minimum point level on the Build It Green (BIG), GreenPoint Rated Checklist


·       Town launches Green Up Campaign to conduct home energy audits on 100% of existing houses in community

·       Town meets with start-up companies including Virgance (1BOG), HomeZ and Sustainable Spaces to create partnership to promote innovation, green jobs, consumer awareness and community action around energy efficiency and climate change

·       Aggregate results of energy audits will be used by citizen-led task force to negotiate products and services for home retrofits

·       Town developing system to certify retrofitted homes; researching incorporation of Home Energy System Rating Program (HERS) into Green Up Campaign per recommendations in Assembly Bill 32 (AB32) Scoping Plan and California Long-Term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan

APRIL 2009 to SEP 2009

·       Town builds on Pioneers of Sustainability Series with launch of Green Speaker Series: Local Heroes on Local Issues (see Oct 2008 to Mar 2009)

·       Topics include water conservation, renewable energy, green building, green interior design, energy efficiency retrofits and food & climate change

·       Series, held in a workshop format, will provide community with concrete actions and tools to use in their daily lives

APRIL 2009


·       Town will host Earth Day Fair to provide the community with the tools and resources they need to make their homes more efficient, to conserve resources and to live more sustainably

·       Representatives include local water service provider, waste/recycling provider, Acterra (local non-profit group advocating sustainability), Reuse People (local non-profit that deconstructs buildings and sells salvaged products), Nike Re-Use a Shoe Collection and others

APRIL 2009

·       Town requires submittal of BIG GreenPoint Rated Checklist for all new homes and major remodels with suggested point requirements

·       LEED for Homes welcomed as an alternative

·       Mandatory minimum points will be required in August 2009

Documents: Letter to Local Architects Regarding BIG Checklist; GreenPoint Rated Checklist for New Construction; GreenPoint Rated Checklist for Existing Homes; LEED for Homes Checklist

MARCH 2009

·       Portola Valley Town Center wins 2009 American Institute of Architects (AIA) San Francisco Design Award in the Energy + Sustainability Merit category

Documents: Press Release from AIA

FEB 2009 to

MAR 2009

·       Town holds public Sustainable Building Workshops to discuss and elicit feedback on BIG (Build It Green) GreenPoint Rated system and Green Up Campaign

o      Presents adoption of the BIG GreenPoint system as new standard for new construction and remodels

o      Introduces Green Up Campaign to improve energy efficiency of existing housing stock and creation of citizen-led task force to negotiate products and services to facilitate energy efficient retrofits

Documents: Sustainable Building Workshop–Agenda; Green Up Campaign Proposal; Presentation on Green Building Rating System

FEB 2009


·       Town launches redesigned website including Sustainability section

·       Sustainability section organized to provide residents, businesses, schools and children with information and resources targeted to their Town activities

FEB 2009


·       Staff prepares report and seeks Town Council (Council) input on a town-wide water conservation program

·       Research includes Town Sustainability Element, San Mateo County Energy Strategy Plan, Department of Water Resources (DWR) Draft “Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance” and water conservation programs in other jurisdictions

·       Staff meets with rainwater harvesting consultants and discusses use of cisterns and graywater systems on private properties with San Mateo County Health Department and CalWater

Documents: Memo to Council–Water Conservation; Draft Handout–How Much Water Do You Use; Draft Handout–Save 10 Percent Water

FEB 2009

·       Staff prepares report to Council recommending adoption of San Mateo County Energy Strategy 2012

Documents: Memo to Council–Energy Strategy; Resolution 2432-2009

JAN 2009

·       Council adopts Sustainability Element as amendment to General Plan

·       Objective of Sustainability Element is to provide guidance for the sustainability of the Town

·       Includes six overarching goals with objectives, and illustrative policies and practices organized under:  Transportation, New Buildings, Existing Building Stock, Water Resources, Living Environment and Community Education and Involvement

Documents: Sustainability Element; Resolution 2429-2009

JAN 2009

·       Town joins San Mateo County Green Business Program

·       Town pursues certification as green business and once certified will launch program to engage local businesses in Town’s Sustainability Initiatives

·       Town will use Green Business Program's climate calculator tool to measure reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in commercial sector

Documents: Staff Proposal to Join Green Business Program; Letter Joining Green Business Program

JAN 2009

·       Town Center wins 2009 Green Building Award in Commercial Building category

·       Green Building Awards sponsored by Sustainable San Mateo County, RecycleWorks, and the San Mateo County Chapter of the AIA

DEC 2008

·       Climate Protection Task Force meets to review staff report on Green Ups and to discuss next steps for town-wide program

Documents: Task Force Meeting Agenda 12-11-08; Program Options for Green Ups

DEC 2008

·       Staff prepares report recommending that Council join the Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network Climate Protection Partnership to enlist ICLEI to complete a greenhouse gas emissions inventory for Town’s government operations

Documents: Memo to Council–Climate Protection Partnership; Resolution 2424-2008; Resolution 2425-2008; Council Meeting Minutes 12-10-08

DEC 2008

·       Town wins City Solar Award 2008

·       Town recognized by the Northern California Solar Energy Association as one of the top cities in the Bay Area for solar installations

OCT 2008 to MAR 2009

·       Town launches Green Speaker Series: Pioneers of Sustainability

·       Speakers include Amory Lovins, James Hansen and Mathis Wackernagel

OCT 2008 to

JAN 2009

·       Community-wide effort results in daylighting and restoring of 300’ of Sausal Creek and habitat previously buried in culvert under Town Center site

·       This marks first daylighting of a creek in San Mateo County and is lauded by local chapter of Sierra Club and Committee for Green Foothills

·       Acterra, the local nonprofit group that had grown native plants from seed, helps Town and residents plant creek banks on six community planting days

Documents: Sausal Creek Daylighting Plan; Planting Days Flyer; Friends of Sausal Creek Brochure; Fundraising Letter; Sausal Creek Daylighting Project Description; Article from San Francisco Chronicle

OCT 2008 to DEC 2008

·       Green Building subgroup completes one-year study of green building rating system and develops recommendations

·       Group shares preliminary recommendation to require use of BIG GreenPoint Rated program for all new homes and major remodels with Planning Commission (PC), Architectural and Site Control Commission (ASCC) and Council

·       PC, ASCC and Council concur with preliminary recommendations including public outreach workshops, submittal of GreenPoint Rated Checklist for projects starting April 1, 2009 and mandatory minimum point level requirement starting August 2009

Documents: Memo to Council–Green Building Recommendations; Attachment–Memo to PC

SEP 2008

·       Town hires Sustainability and Resource Efficiency (SURE) Coordinator, Brandi de Garmeaux,

·       Primary duties will be implementing and promoting resource efficiency and environmental programs through community outreach and education

·       SURE Coordinator will also promote and monitor progress toward attaining Town’s commitments under U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement

Documents: SURE Coordinator Job Description

SEP 2008

·       Town completes construction and moves into new Town Hall, Library and Community Hall at new green Town Center

·       Town Center to be used as model on green building: energy “dashboard” mounted in entrance to library will provide real-time data on electricity and water use as well as solar energy production

·       Deconstruction of old buildings and salvaging of materials saves 11.6 tons of CO2

·       Town Center built to LEED standards and is likely to achieve LEED Platinum rating

Documents: New Town Center Green List; Article from San Francisco Chronicle; Article from AIA This Week

SEP 2008

·       Climate Protection Task Force reviews feedback from Workshop on Home Energy Conservation and Green Design, Metrics presentation, realtor meetings, Draft Sustainability Element and Green Building subgroup recommendations

·       Task Force plans next steps for Green Ups, home energy audits, building standards and outreach

Documents: Task Force Meeting Agenda 9-16-08

JULY 2008

·       Green Building subgroup submits report and recommended next steps to PC and ASCC

Documents: Memo to PC & ASCC–Subgroup Status Report

MAY 2008

·       Town hosts meeting with local realtors to discuss possibility of energy audit at time of house sale

APRIL 2008

·       Town hosts public workshop/panel called Workshop on Home Energy Conservation and Green Design

·       Purpose is to share ideas for moving Town forward on practices to save energy, conserve water and use sustainable materials in built environment

·       Town discovers many homeowners have done energy/green audits to determine condition of their homes

Documents: Workshop–Agenda and Materials; Mailer to Residents

MAR 2008 to APR 2008

·       Town facilitates energy audits of five Portola Valley homes with goal to create baseline of a representative sampling of the housing stock

·       Audit results will be used to determine measures to reduce town energy use and greenhouse gas emissions

Documents: Portola Valley Home Energy Audit Report

FEB 2008

·       Council signs Tuolumne River Resolution

·       Resolution supports water conservation, efficiency and recycling rather than increasing diversions from the Tuolumne River

·       Town is first municipality in San Mateo County to sign resolution

Documents: Resolution 2378-2008

DEC 2007

·       Climate Protection Task Force develops a website called as predecessor to new Town website (launched March 2009)

·       Purpose is to inform and engage the public through an exchange of ideas to reduce carbon footprint as well as ongoing activities of the Climate Protection Task Force

Documents: Cool PV Work Plan

OCT 2007 to APR 2008

·       Green Building subgroup meets regularly to study green building rating systems: six subgroup meetings, two work sessions to prepare for workshops and three community workshops

OCT 2007

·       Council adopts resolution in support of Assembly Bill 32 (AB 32), the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006

·       Town adopts AB 32’s targets for reducing its global warming emissions to 2000 levels by 2010, to 1990 levels by 2020 and to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050

·       Council tasks PC, ASCC and Building Energy Efficiency and Transportation (BEET) committee to study and develop options for green building rating system

·       Council considers creation of Resource Efficiency Coordinator position

Documents: Memo to Council–AB32; Memo to Council–BEET Committee Recommendations; Memo to Council–Resource Efficiency Coordinator Position; Resolution 2366-2007; Council Meeting Minutes 10-4-07

OCT 2007

·       Metrics committee presents findings and preliminary greenhouse gas emissions inventory

·       BEET committee presents findings to Council in PowerPoint presentation, “Why Build Green”

Documents: Metrics Presentation; Why Build Green Presentation

OCT 2007

·       Subgroup of PC, ASCC & BEET committee forms Green Building subgroup to conduct one-year study to develop recommendations for a green building rating system, per Council direction

Documents: Memo and Agenda–First Meeting of Green Building Subgroup 10-5-07

OCT 2007

·       Town participates in first ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability) National Conversation on Climate Change

Documents: Comments from National Conversation on Climate Change

SEP 2007

·       Council approves Sausal Creek Project

·       Council authorizes contract with Phillip Williams and Associates to analyze, design and coordinate the Sausal Creek Daylighting project

·       Portola Valley Friends of Sausal Creek created to serve as fundraising arm of daylighting project

Documents: Resolution 2365-2007; Council Meeting Minutes 9-26-07

JULY 2007

·       Staff prepares report to Council introducing Climate Protection Task Force committee reports

·       BEET committee presents recommendations for multi-front program to achieve the Council adopted goals for greenhouse gas emissions reductions

·       Recommendations address new construction, existing buildings, transportation, carbon offsets, alternative energy, Town events and green tours and communication

·       Recommendations outline “Sustainable Building and Remodeling” program that includes Town adoption of system for rating and tracking of new construction and substantial remodels as well as “Home Energy Assessment” program that includes auditing existing homes

Documents: Memo to Council–Climate Protection Task Force Report; BEET Committee Executive Summary and Recommendations; Sustainable Building and Remodeling; Home Assessment Program; Annual Town Event and Green Tour; Transportation; Education & Outreach Committee Recommendations; Council Meeting Minutes 7-11-07

JUNE 2007

·       Town staff meets with local architects to discuss BEET committee recommendations to Council

Documents: Memo to Local Architects–BEET Committee Recommendations; Summary Notes from Meeting with Local Architects 6-12-07

MAY 2007

·       Climate Protection Task Force meets to finalize recommendations to Council from their three subcommittees

APRIL 2007

·       Council representatives and staff meet with Portola Valley School District superintendent and staff to discuss ways Town and District can work together to further Climate Protection Task Force goals

MARCH 2007

·       Town recognized by Sierra Club at Cool Cities event in Redwood City as one of only nine cities in San Mateo/Santa Clara counties to sign the U.S. Mayors' Climate Protection Agreement

·       Sierra Club's Carl Pope gives keynote address at event

FEB 07

·       Town purchases electric vehicle for public works staff to use for maintenance work at Town Center

Documents: Resolution 2370-2007

OCT 2006 to DEC 2008

·       Climate Protection Task Force meets regularly in subcommittees and plenary group to work on recommendations for comprehensive energy savings plan for Town

·       Twelve official Task Force meetings with regular subgroup meetings in between official meetings

DEC 2006

·       PC and ASCC approves Holland/Yates home and applaud as best-in-class demonstration of a green home

·       Holland/Yates home recognized as beyond LEED Platinum, joining Town Center as first of its kind building in U.S.

NOV 2006

·       Council unanimously approves recommendation for Town to join ICLEI to participate in Cities for Climate Protection Campaign, and undertake campaign’s five milestones to reduce greenhouse gas and air pollution emissions throughout community

·       Council also joins Sustainable Silicon Valley (SSV)

Documents: Memo to Council–Authorization to Join ICLEI and SSV; Council Meeting Minutes 11-8-06; Letter to SSV; Memo to Council–ICLEI Membership; Resolution 2283-2006; ICLEI Application for Membership

NOV 2006

·       Motivated by Governor's Million Solar Roofs Initiative, Portola Valley and Ladera residents partner with SolarCity to arrange bulk buy of solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays, setting stage and providing template for further bulk buys of energy efficient/sustainable goods and services

·       Initial goal was 44 homes and 175kW—final total was 77 homes and 355kW (enough power to run small hospital), and total offset was nearly 3.5MM lbs carbon emissions over 20 years, making Portola Valley the town with the highest per capita of solar PV roofs in America at end of 2007

·       This marked first community bulk buy for SolarCity and launched the model that grew the company to great success, making solar roofs accessible to hundreds of homeowners in California

Documents: Article from Almanac; Article from Tri-Valley Herald; SolarCity Bulk Buy Door Hanger

OCT 2006

·       Ad-Hoc Climate Protection Task Force forms to begin work on comprehensive energy savings plan for Town per Council’s recommendation

·       Three subcommittees created to address specific issues: Buildings, Energy Efficiency and Transportation (BEET), Metrics and Education and Outreach

Documents: Memo to Climate Protection Task Force–Introductory Letter

OCT 2006

·       Council conceptually approves daylighting 300’ stretch of Sausal Creek at northern half of Town Center site

Documents: Council Meeting Minutes 10-25-06

SEP 2006

·       Sausal Creek Committee reaches consensus on recommending partial opening of Sausal Creek channel

SEP 2006

·       Staff prepares report recommending that Council authorize Mayor to sign the U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement

·       Staff recommends that Council appoint representatives from the Council, PC, ASCC, Conservation Committee and public to begin formulation of a comprehensive Town energy savings plan

·       Council adopts resolution endorsing and authorizing Mayor to sign U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement

Documents: Memo to Council–Climate Protection Agreement; Resolution 2267-2006; Letter from Mayor to John Mauro; Article from Almanac

JUNE 2006

·       Staff prepares report to Council recommending adoption of Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Policy (EPPP)

·       Council adopts policy

Documents: Memo to Council–EPPP; Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Policy


·       Ad-Hoc Sausal Creek Advisory Committee forms to consider options for opening Sausal Creek at the Town Center

·       Eleven members appointed representing Council, PC, ASCC, committees, staff, consultants and residents at large

·       Committee meets from April to September 2006

FEB 2006

·       Staff prepares report to Council on “Green Building Practices”

·       Purpose is to update Council on green building practices, use of San Mateo Countywide Sustainable Building Checklist and analysis of completed projects

Documents: Memo to ASCC–Green Building Practices; Memo to Council–Green Building Practices; Council Meeting Minutes 2-22-06

JAN 2006

·       Town planning staff implements new procedure to prepare and include summary of green building measures in application for each project presented to ASCC

Documents: Sample Summary of Green Building Measures

AUG 2005 to DEC 2006

·       Planning staff develops handout on Sustainable Building in Portola Valley

·       Purpose is to help homeowners start thinking about green building in project planning stage and demystify common misconceptions about costs of building green

·       Planning staff develops handouts and “green feature” articles for Town Hall front counter and Town website on green products including tankless water heaters, bamboo flooring, decks, denim fiber insulation and windows

MAY 2004

·       Town sends letter to architects working within Portola Valley explaining required submittal of San Mateo Countywide Sustainable Building Checklist for projects that require architectural review

Documents: Letter to Architects Regarding Checklist 5-13-04

MAY 2004

·       Staff provides overview to Council on San Mateo Countywide Sustainable Building Checklist, next steps of Countywide Green Building Committee and incentives and green building programs in other jurisdictions

·       Council directs staff to inform architects of new Guide and Checklist

Documents: Memo to Council–San Mateo Countywide Sustainable Building Checklist; Council Meeting Minutes 5-12-04

MARCH 2004

·       Special Meeting of Council, PC and ASCC to review San Mateo Countywide Sustainable Building Checklist

·       Council directs staff to re-agendize Checklist for discussion and to investigate incentives in other jurisdictions

Documents: Memo to Council–Presentation/Discussion on Checklist; San Mateo Countywide Sustainable Building Checklist; Council Meeting Agenda 3-31-04; Council Meeting Minutes 3-31-04

FEB 2002

·       Council requests staff to explore possibility of providing residents with permit relief to encourage use of solar energy

·       Council adopts flat fee of $50.00 for issuance and inspection of permits for solar photovoltaic systems

Documents: Resolution 1976-2002

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