April 24th, 2009
The City of Berkeley is always progressive (perhaps that why some call it Berzerkeley). They are taking a very strong stance on limiting their city’s contribution to global warming. In November 2006, Berkeley voters marked their concern regarding climate challenge by overwhelmingly endorsing a ballot that set a bold but simple mandate: reduce the community’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050. The ballot measure passed with 81 percent of the vote. The measure directed the Mayor to develop a Climate Action Plan to reach that target.
City staff have drafted a 145-page Climate Action Plan which includes several proposals for home-owners to make energy-efficiency improvements to their houses. The plan covers such broad topics as advocating trash reduction, growing vegetables at home, and making energy upgrades to homes. You can read the chapter on Building Energy Use Strategies here.
This past Tuesday evening, things got pretty exciting at the Berkeley City Council meeting. Public comment on the proposed requirement for home owners to have energy audits performed on their homes and then make upgrades (e.g., insulation, caulking, etc.) was quite harsh. Understandably many citizens are not able to spend cash on home upgrades– especially in this economic climate. The Council voted to delay a vote and will meet again on May 5.
What do you think of the idea of cities requiring their citizens to improve the energy-efficiency of their homes? We admit we really like the idea of requiring home energy audits– they are relatively inexpensive and provide a plan that homeowners can follow to save energy and money. Some of the upgrades proposed will be inexpensive (window caulking, furnace filter changing, insulating hot water heaters, etc.) and some are more expensive (e.g., solar panels, tankless water heaters, etc.) We think homeowners should have the right to choose what changes they want to make to their homes — but that requiring them to at least know how they rate on efficiency and to learn what their options are is a great idea.
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