About Sustainable Novato

108Sustainable Novato is an all-volunteer community non-profit that works to enable and encourage more sustainable living in our city.  SN has helped the City of Novato to adopt a climate action plan, Continue Reading →

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Sustainable, Green, Low-Carbon Living from Wagstaff + Rogers Architects

Author: Katherine Salazar

According to a New York Times article, in 2014 the U.S. emitted around 16.2 metric tons of carbon per capita. That’s about 35,375 pounds of carbon per person. Needless to say, we have contributed significantly to global warming. And despite being considered an environmentally conscious region, the Bay Area is a major contributor to those emissions. A household can help combat colossal carbon footprints in several ways. While sustainable/green design and construction have a great impact on the environment, sustainability will only come with changing the way we live and integrating that green lifestyle shift into our culture.

Sustainable, Low-Carbon Home

The field of architecture has a major responsilibilty when it comes to climate change. Ned Cramer with Architect Magazine recently noted, “every architect should know, buildings consume some 40 percent of the energy in the U.S. annually, and they emit nearly half of the carbon dioxide (CO2), through greenfield development, cement production, and the burning of fossil fuels such as oil, gas, and coal.” If these statistics hold true, then how we build, what we build, and what we build with needs to change.
From energy use and water conservation to the materials used to build your home, Wagstaff + Rogers Architects is committed to preserving the environment for future generations by offering services in Sustainable Planning and Green Building.

The firm’s Green Design philosophy encourages environmentally responsible decisions at each phase of the design process, reducing negative impacts on the environment and improving the health of building occupants without substantially compromising the bottom line. It is an integrated, holistic approach that positively impacts all phases of a building’s life-cycle, including design, construction, life-cycle operation, and decommissioning. A GreenPoint Rated or LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified building will also typically bring a higher market value than a conventional building.
Whether you are remodelling part of your home, building a home from scratch, or simply updating your home for energy and water efficiency, there are many facets of design and construction that can lower your home’s carbon footprint and save you money on your water and energy bills, as we have written about before in this blog.

There are at least six general categories that Wagstaff + Rogers Architects pay special attention to when designing a home with green (sustainable) attributes:
1. Location and community (if applicable): try to locate close to shopping and public transportation as well as situating the building for optimal solar access for active and passive design techniques.
2. Energy efficiency: focusing on the building envelope, including efficient windows, heating, cooling, and insulation. The goal is to use less fossil fuels to heat and cool and try to convert to sustainable types of energy while conserving by design.
3. Indoor Air Quality (IAQ): prioritizing use of Low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) and No-VOC paints and other less toxic chemicals for the health of occupants.
4. Resource conservation: using less and/or renewable resources as well as durable materials.
5. Water conservation: specifying indoor and outdoor plumbing fixtures that conserve water.
6. Innovations: envisioning and implementing new ideas that advance sustainable living into our culture.
While sustainability is a key principle for Wagstaff + Rogers Architects, they also practice it in their individual lives.

Sustainable, Low-Carbon Lifestyle

Reducing your CO2 emissions goes beyond the home; low-carbon living also means changing your lifestyle. Everything from what you eat to how you get to work has a carbon footprint. Recently, architect, Eric Rogers and his wife, Natalie, participated in Marin county’s Resilient Neighborhoods program, a team challenge to reduce collective CO2 emissions to more sustainable levels while building community. The program is free and joining a team is relatively easy.

Teams start out by calculating their household CO2 emissions and choose from a set of actions related to shopping habits, waste, water usage, transportation, and home energy efficiency that will reduce the carbon footprint of their everyday lives. Some of these actions are as easy as going meatless for a couple meals a week. But such steps have a huge impact, as the site boasts:

“4,480,129 lbs. of annual CO2 emissions have already been reduced [through this program in Marin alone]. That’s enough to keep an acre of Arctic Sea ice from melting every year or taking 613 Marin homes off the grid permanently!”

The article is continued HERE, with much more helpful information courtesy of Wagstaff + Rogers Architects!

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Sustainable Novato Newsletter

Read about our 2017 accomplishments and 2018 upcoming events.

SN Newsletter January 2018

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Modern Roundabouts Just Plain Work Better than Outdated Stop Signs and Lights – Find out Why

“Modern roundabouts are environmentally friendly, attractive and safe.  They ease traffic congestion, keep traffic moving, and reduce carbon pollution from cars.  If we aim at more sustainable transportation, more roundabouts might help”

Click on the link below to read why:

Roundabouts – The Better Solution

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Novato residents fixing up Hamilton SMART station – IJ Report / Plus KCBS Audio

On a recent afternoon, Donn Davy could be found doubled over replacing a defective valve at Hamilton’s SMART station in Novato.

Under the searing midday sun, the 70-year-old, wearing boots and a wide-brimmed fedora, wrapped up a day’s work on a nearly complete irrigation system he installed at the station in southern Novato near Marin Gate Road.

Davy is not a Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit employee. He is a volunteer who spearheaded a yearlong campaign to install trees and plants to beautify Hamilton’s barren neighborhood station.

“I heard that SMART had zero budget for landscaping on this big piece of property,” Davy said. “That just didn’t make any sense to me, because I know what the weeds are like out here. They won’t do it. I said, ‘Let’s see if we can do it ourselves.’”


SMART initially planned to landscape its stations in Marin and Sonoma counties. But beautification was deferred due to a lack of funding, said Bill Gamlen, SMART’s chief engineer.

“We’ve been so focused on getting it up and running and getting passengers on the train, we haven’t spent much time talking about landscaping,” Gamlen said.

About 30 residents and the Hamilton Field Community Development Foundation have taken it upon themselves since last winter to acquire and plant 90 oak trees, shrubs, flowers and seeds in dirt plots around the station’s concrete platform at the 5-acre site.

California live oaks and eastern red oaks were planted along the perimeter. The foot-tall trees were donated by Homeward Bound of Marin, a nonprofit provider of shelter and residential services for homeless people and families.

With $2,800 chipped in from local residents, volunteers bought dozens of native and drought-tolerant plants. Residents over five days prepped the area’s rocky soil, bore holes into the earth and planted the oak trees and dozens of coffeeberry, toyon and juncus, among other plants

“So far it’s been funded by those of us who have shown up for all these meetings and shown up to dig holes to put the plants in,” said Paul Herrerias, 61, a Hamilton resident who has been involved in the beautification effort.

Herrerias became concerned early on when he noticed trees and other landscaping were not put in as construction on the station wrapped up.

“When they built the station, they put in medians in the parking lot, but they didn’t pull any water pipe to the medians and, of course, when they floated the bonds, they had pretty pictures with landscaping to go in at Hamilton station. It never happened.”

He said one of the next steps for the project is to gather more community support to continue purchasing plants. He said he would also like to see signs installed that describe the greenery and welcome people to the station.

The group is in the process of receiving a $10,000 Marin County community service grant. But at least another $10,000 is needed, Davy said.

Davy himself put in $6,000, and with the help of a neighbor’s tractor he personally installed an irrigation system. Since July, he has put in up to eight hours a day to trench and install the watering system. Residents have committed to paying to water the landscaping while SMART works with North Marin Water District to get recycled water for irrigation, Gamlen said. The agency secured a water meter for the project.

The goal is to transform the site in three years, Davy said.

“Anything is better than the natural, whatever would spring up there, which is star thistle,” he said. “And this year it’s this really pungent, oily weed.”

The plan over the next two years is to continue planting more shrubs and other flora.

Residents near Novato’s San Marin station also have jumped on board to beautify their neighborhood station, and have begun sketching out initial plans for how they will move forward, Gamlen said.

He said residents living near stations with space to landscape are encouraged to take a similar approach.

“It’s a great way to embrace the station and make it a part of the community,” Gamlen said.


Also covered on KCBS radio, which can be heard here:

KCBS’s Anna Duckworth reports the effort started when the volunteers lead by Donn Davy learned the transit agency lacked the funding to get the job done.  They are volunteering their time to beautify the Hamilton station in the southern part of town.

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Novato City Council Pledges 100% Clean Energy

Novato Pledges Move to 100% Clean Energy

At their September 12 meeting, the Novato City Council unanimously voted to join the Mayors for 100% Clean Energy, an initiative of the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 Campaign, which calls on all Mayors in cities and towns across the United States to support a vision of 100% clean and renewable energy for their communities. Novato is the first city in Marin to endorse this community-wide goal of transitioning to 100% clean and renewable energy by 2050.

In June, the United States Conference of Mayors, representing over 1,400 cities, adopted a historic resolution establishing support for the 100% clean and renewable energy goal in all member cities nationwide. Novato now joins the ranks of other Bay Area cities including San Jose, San Francisco, and Palo Alto committed to this goal.

“As Mayor, it gives me great pride to have brought this item forward for our Council to consider,” said Mayor Denise Athas. “Novato is a true leader in this important effort. Now, more than ever, it’s critical to have local control on important climate issues that affect our future and the future of generations to come.”

In recent months, Novato has taken many steps to address climate change and to demonstrate its commitment to becoming a sustainable city. In July 2017, the City also joined the Mayor’s National Climate Action Agenda to raise the collective voice of cities working towards climate solutions and to build the political will for U.S. leadership on climate change.

“Novato continues to be at the forefront of sustainability,” said City Manager Regan Candelario. “Whether it was integrating recycled water into our irrigation systems, converting our streetlights to energy-efficient LEDs, or being a leader in Green Building standards, our goal has always been to reduce our impact on the environment and improve Novatans quality of life.

” The City also recently hired its first Sustainability Coordinator, Gretchen Schubeck, who will be working full time to implement the City’s Climate Action Plan and help the City and its residents reduce their collective carbon footprint.

Max Perrey, Chair of the Sierra Club Marin Group, enthusiastically endorsed the City’s action by saying, “The Sierra Club is proud of the action taken by the Novato City Council. From joining MCE’s 100% renewable Deep Green option for municipal energy use, to hiring a full-time Sustainability Coordinator, Novato is already making strides this year towards the clean energy future that we need.”

“The time to act on climate change is now, and the Sierra Club is proud to count Novato among the over 150 cities to sign onto the Mayors for 100% Clean Energy campaign to have 100% energy use within the city limits come from renewable energy sources. Setting the goal is just the first step towards the hard work of implementation. We look forward to working with the Mayor, Councilmembers and City staff to make this goal a reality.”

For more information on the City of Novato’s sustainability efforts, visit www.novato.org/sustainability or e-mail gschubeck@novato.org.

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“Rising Seas in California” Report – Get it here

The State has just released “Rising Seas in California,” that includes emerging science on the Antarctica and Greenland ice sheets. In calm, science-based language, the report puts the public on notice that things are changing at a faster rate. “Previously underappreciated glaciological processes, examined in the research of the last five years, have the potential to greatly increase the probability of extreme global sea-level rise (6 feet or more) within this century if emissions continue unabated.” The report also notes how for every foot of global SLR from Antarctica, California will get 1.25 feet. Special! In May-June, the State will hold workshops on how to use the new science.

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