A number of the municipal water suppliers in Sonoma and Marin counties already have adopted a model water-efficient landscape ordinance developed by a working group led by Santa Rosa. The model ordinance was based on the statewide standard from the Water Conservation Landscaping Act, or Assembly Bill 1881, which took effect at the beginning of this year.

Petaluma opted to go with its existing restrictions on landscaping, according to Dan Muelrath, head of Santa Rosa's water conservation program and the regional working group. The model ordinance is posted at www.santarosacity.org/wc.

Governments in Napa and Mendocino counties have inquired about the regional model ordinance and how it dovetails with the state version.

On the heels of that ordinance, the county of Sonoma is employing some of the federal stimulus money it received to draft rules for water-saving fixtures in new construction and remodeling, according to county planner Amy Wingfield. That ordinance, set to be brought up for public consideration in late summer, would blend with the recently adopted green-building ordinance. It would include standards for fixtures, such as 1.1 gallon-per-flush toilets and 1.5 gallon-a-minute showerheads.

Such fixtures will soon become the norm, as the recently adopted state green-building codes, called CalGreen, have requirements for low-flow fixtures kicking in Jan. 1, 2011, according to Mr. Muelrath. Local governments with mandatory green-building ordinances are considering the addition of rules on fixtures, and a number are offering rebates on more cutting-edge plumbing such as rainwater collection and greywater recycling, he said.

Santa Rosa now offers rebates for rainwater storage at 25 cents per gallon over 100 gallons and for greywater-to-landscape retrofits at $75 a fixture. Common harvesting installations hold between 1,000 and 5,000 gallons, and clothes washer greywater is the most common retrofit, aided by the statewide standards adopted last year, according to Mr. Muelrath.

North Marin Municipal Water District recently approved similar rebates.


Comcast has received the highest level of certification, or "platinum," under the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, project rating system, for its recently relocated Sonoma County operations center at the Sonoma Mountain Village development in Rohnert Park. The 35,000-square-foot office accommodates more than 150 employees.

Plugging into the photovoltaic array development owner Codding Enterprises installed on the roofs of the former Agilent Technologies facility gave Comcast credit as a net zero-carbon operation. Other LEED point-winners were 98 percent construction waste recycling and a 46 percent water reduction from a typical office building.


Gov. Schwarzenegger on March 24 signed Senate Bill 71, which expands the existing power of the California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority to give sales-tax exemptions on new manufacturing equipment for no-emission vehicles to all "clean tech" manufacturers. The tax break is part of the governor's California Jobs Initiative, aimed at protecting 100,000 jobs.


Kaiser Permanente plans to install 15 megawatts of photovoltaic power at 15 facilities in California, including the newly rebuilt medical center in Vallejo, by summer of next year. These systems would supply an average of 10 percent of each facility's energy needs.

Other sites included in the announcement were Santa Clara, Fontana and San Diego. Kaiser inked power purchase agreements with San Francisco-based Recurrent Energy, which will own and operate the systems. Citigroup took a stake in the projects and helped structure the agreements, which allow the nonprofit health care group to access the 30 percent tax credit available to private companies such as Recurrent and hold the renewable energy credits for these projects.


Marin Builders Association, California Building Performance Contractors Association and California Clean Energy Workforce Training Program will host the first Home Performance with Energy Star training series May 25-27.

The goal is to help general contractors and specialists in heating and cooling, solar power and insulation get into the "green home" market. Marin County cities, some of which already have green-building ordinances, are considering adoption of a model ordinance for the county, called Marin BERST.


Planning for slow food to make speed toward Napa Valley plates and school meals is fast approaching. The all-day Napa Local Food Forum is set to start at 8:30 a.m. April 28 at Napa Valley Exposition, 575 Third St., in Napa.

It's put on by Napa County's Agricultural Commissioner’s Office, Health and Human Services Agency and Department of Environmental Management together with Napa County Farm Bureau, Napa Valley Vintners and other agriculture- and food-related groups and businesses.

A template for the forum is Napa resident Joanna Winter's August 2009 research paper "Comprehensive Planning for the Napa County Food System," part of her graduate work at Cornell University and available at her Web site, www.recipeforsustainability.com.

Four goals were developed since August by a Napa County Local Food Working Group, composed of government officials, Sustainable Napa County and farming representatives. Based on themes of sustainability, emergency preparedness, carbon footprint reduction and agriculture preservation, the goals are a change in the paradigm of institutional food service delivery models, an increase in the number of planted food-producing acres, support for efficient economic models and development of a food system that provides "seasonally appropriate," locally grown food with "well-thought-out" distribution points.

In October a Lake County Community Food Assessment was launched with California Endowment money flowing through Sutter Lakeside Hospital as part of the countywide Health Leadership Network. Lake County Marketing and Economic Development Program is administering the survey.

The assessment has two online surveys, available at www.lccfa.wikispaces.com, to find out what local foods are being produced and what retail and institutional demand there is for them as part of the Lake County Food Policy Council.


The second annual Roseland Earth Day will be held Sunday, April 25 at Roseland Elementary School, 950 Sebastopol Rd., Santa Rosa.

The theme for this year’s event is “Honoring Native Wisdom, Growing Green Careers.” The event will highlight local Coast Miwok and Southern Pomo tribal culture and tradition. The event will also feature information and resources for people who seek employment in the expanding green economy.

There will also be informational booths, speakers, food, children’s activities, music, Aztec dancers, educational workshops and more.

For more information, visit www.roselandearthday.shutterfly.com or call 707-228-3188.


Submit items for this column to Jeff Quackenbush at jquackenbush@busjrnl.com, 707-521-4256 or fax 707-521-5292.