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Musings From the Front Line

Musings from the Front Line

Chris has been appointed to his county’s Sustainability Commission.  The Sustainability Commissioner’s job is to help The County implement its Climate Action Plan (CAP).  This will be an ongoing series describing the myriad challenges of sustainable implementation of a CAP, at the local level, during turbulent times.
April 26, 2021
As I embark on my civic duty I was instantly struck by the wide range of local issues that fit under the umbrella of sustainability.  Our first agenda item was an excellent presentation from an analyst with the Contra Costa County Transportation Authority (CCCTA) who focused on the disturbing anomaly that during the COVID pandemic there has been a 27% decrease in crashes, while at the same time a 77% increase in fatal crashes.  While this might not intuitively seem to be a sustainability topic he did make the interesting connection between slowing and calming traffic, and the co-benefit of emissions reductions.  It also creates a correlation between the “Vision Zero Framework”, the County’s push to zero fatalities and Zero Net Carbon . Reductions in Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT) achieve both safer roadways and reduction in GHG emissions. CCCTA went on to discuss grants related to Local Road Safety Plans to create a road map to pursue that nexus of zero accidents and zero net carbon by reducing VMT.  The second matter was more directly mapped to traditional sustainability topics in that a member of the commission opined on integrating US Green Building Council (USGBC) themes into the CAP.  As a long time LEED professional (LEED is the longstanding green building rating system that USGBC has had in place since the 1990s), he gave an interesting LEED overview presentation and finished with a discussion of the County’s new LEED Gold Certified Administrative building in Martinez.  This conversation then inspired me to volunteer to join the Green Buildings Working Group.  More to follow on the important issue of embodied carbon (i.e. the life-cycle carbon footprint of materials use din construction) and we’ll catch up again in June.


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