11 Oct 2011
October 11, 2011

The Greening of Burlingame

Going Green

There is overwhelming evidence that our planet is undergoing significant changes that may compromise the future welfare of our children and grandchildren. We need to begin acting immediately to reduce carbon emissions and implement more sustainable practices.

Burlingame has already taken significant steps to “go green.” The city completed an energy audit in 2003 and has retrofitted city buildings with energy-efficient systems. The city installed a co-generation system in its wastewater treatment plant that reuses methane gas to power more than 20 percent of the facility, which saves the city about $150,000 each year. The city received a $160,000 rebate from Pacific Gas & Electric for this project. You can read more about the city’s progress to date on the city’s website and see why Burlingame was awarded a national environmental award in 2011.

Challenges Ahead
There is much more to be done. In August 2007 the Burlingame City Council unanimously supported the Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement to advance the goals of the Kyoto Protocol, which addresses climate disruption. In 2007 I appointed a Green Ribbon Task Force to promote sustainability and green initiatives. In 2009 the council approved a Climate Action Plan (CAP) which was drafted by the Task Force. Our city is ahead of schedule in meeting 2012 interim targets for reducing carbon emissions.

After completing the CAP, the Task Force disbanded and a Burlingame nonprofit formed called the Citizens Environmental Council – Burlingame. CEC has introduced a variety of green initiatives, including an annual Green Street Fair, a green seminar series and a Drive Less Challenge. CEC has helped win community support for a polystyrene ban and is working on other proposals.

A Countywide Plan
In February 2006, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors appointed me to the Utilities and Sustainability Task Force, a countywide commission charged with creating an energy and sustainability plan for all cities in the county. Our recommendations and action plan were adopted by the county’s City/County Association of Governments for countywide implementation.

I am committed to making Burlingame a leader in reducing carbon emissions and becoming more sustainable. I am gratified that a 2007 city survey showed that 74 percent of our residents support the city’s involvement in environmentally friendly measures, even if the cost exceeds the projected operational savings over the life of the project. To those who say we can’t afford to go green, I say: We can’t afford not to. The reality is that many clean green initiatives pay for themselves in energy savings.