City Adopts Progressive General Plan Addressing Link Between the Built Environment and Public Health

Green Building

Recently, the City of Richmond, a bay area industrial and commercial hub, approved an innovative General Plan that includes a comprehensive element dedicated to community health and wellness.  The city’s General Plan, which will guide development in the city through the year 2030, is one of the first in the nation to recognize that where people live, work and play has a fundamental effect on their health.  Development of this unique General Plan element was made possible by a $225,000 grant from The California Endowment and took place over an 18-month planning process, which coincided with the City’s overall general plan update process.

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CERTIFYING THE CERTIFIERS: GSA ONE STEP CLOSER TO CHOOSING A FEDERAL GREEN BUILDING PROGRAM

Green Building

Last week, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) came one step closer to identifying a federally recognized green building certification system. The review, conducted by the Department of Energy (DOE) and commissioned by the GSA, narrowed down the list of candidates to three: the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), Green Building Initiative’s Green Globes and the International Living Building Institute’s Living Building Challenge.

By way of background, LEED has been the federal standard since 2006 and is certainly the most well-known of the programs, with 10,000 buildings having been awarded certification and over 150,000 professionals involved in the program. However, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) requires the GSA to make an evaluation every five years and identify a system that it “deems to be most likely to encourage a comprehensive and environmentally sound approach to certification of green buildings.” The EISA requires that sustainable design principles be applied to federal design and construction projects for new buildings and major renovations.

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SMOG CHECK: EPA IMPLEMENTS THE 2008 OZONE STANDARDS

Air Quality

This week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took two next steps toward the implementation of the 2008 air quality standards for ground-level ozone, which is commonly referred to as smog: it finalized designations for every area of the country, with the exception of the Chicago-Naperville and Illinois-Indiana-Wisconsin area and issued a final rule relating to such designations. 

Before we get into the details of EPA’s actions, a bit of background… The Clean Air Act (CAA) requires EPA to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone, the main component in smog, and five other pollutants considered harmful to public health and the environment. The law further requires EPA to review these standards every five years. As required by the CAA, in March 2008, EPA issued a new NAAQS for ground level ozone of 0.075 parts per million (ppm).  Later in 2009, EPA announced that it was initiating a rulemaking that would reconsider this standard, primarily to bring it in line with the recommendation of the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC), which was in the 0.060 to 0.070 ppm range. However, as we reported, in September of 2011, citing the economic downturn and the fact that it will be revised again in 2013 as part of the CAA’s five year policy, President Obama announced that he would put this rulemaking on hold and later that same month, EPA said that it would move forward with implementation of the 2008 standard of 0.075 ppm.

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