The Race To Be America’s Greenest City

sacramento greencity 01 The Race To Be Americas Greenest City

Backed by the state of California, Sacramento, has set some pretty high aspirations. They want to be America’s Greenest city. With an entire state behind you, I don’t see how that could fail. Just don’t tell Chicago…

The California Environmental Protection Agency, which is located in Sacramento, was the nation’s first EPA to receive a platinum rating for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design from the U.S. Green Building Council. According to a story in the Sacramento Bee, the Governator himself has mandated that new state office buildings receive at least silver in LEED ratings. As of now, Sacramento has 4.3 million square feet of LEED-certified office space, with Chicago just ahead at 5.2 million.

The California EPA has indoor bike parking, waterless urinals and boxes of worms underneath employee desks. Yes, worms. They digest the scraps of food leftovers, which make for some pretty valuable compost.

Sacramento had its Greenhouse gas emissions certified by the state of California’s Climate Action Registry. In 2005, their emission was 63,000 metric tons, which was a 16 % increase of the 1990 levels. The goal is to lower the emissions 25% below the 1990 number by the year 2030, with Governor Schwarzenegger wanting local governments’ emissions to be 80% below by 2050. Keith Roberts, who is the senior engineer at Sacramento’s General Services Department, is developing a “climate plan” to achieve this goal – a plan that he figures will cost about $850,000 a year.

chicago greencity 01 The Race To Be Americas Greenest City

Many of the nation’s other green cities are more flamboyant with their efforts. The Mayor of Chicago has created green roofs, but I think Sacramento will ultimately win this race. They aren’t simply coloring their buildings green to show their participation, they’re using special glazing on their windows, recycling old materials for flooring, using natural lighting and keeping a tight rein on their heating and air conditioning. Hopefully they will inspire other cities to do the same.

Even if a building makes small changes to obtain a silver or platinum LEED rating, those changes make a difference. As in the words of Virgil, “Your descendants shall gather your fruits”… or your worms.

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