Suggestions for going green

Dear Editor:Downey's Green Task Force has moved aggressively with its agenda. As reported, it has already adopted its mission statement! ("Green Task Force Adopts a Mission Statement," 5/8/09) Now that it has done so, perhaps the city can start acting: first to reduce energy use in city-owned facilities, and second, encourage private entities to do the same by providing some no-cost to the city incentives, in addition to "leading by example". With buildings being the largest users of energy, it is a good place to start. The city should audit each of the city's buildings or building complexes for current energy use. Each building or building complex, including the Downey Theater, the library, the City Hall complex, the Rio Hondo Event Center, the Barbara J. Riley Community & Senior Center, the Columbia Memorial Space Center, each city park with related buildings, the Stewart and Gray maintenance yard and the other yards should be individually audited with a finding of potential energy savings with minimal investment. Edison and the Gas Company provide such audits at no cost to the building owner. If there is need for some additional costs to manage this effort, now is the time to provide for it in the city's budget under preparation. This effort is generally a routine function of facilities management. Coca-Cola could be asked to provide some guidance, if this expertise is lacking in the Green Task Force or staff. It would indeed be a public service and a great example for the city to publish the audit findings and potential savings and follow up action. It would "improve the public's knowledge" and encourage by example. Transparency would greatly enhance the credibility of the city for the value it places to its green initiative. Reporting progress periodically, say quarterly, by the responsible city managers would emphasize the buy-in by all in city administration and their commitment to fiscal responsibility. There is no need for City Council action to get the audit program going. It should be viewed as a warranted, responsible action in light of the current economic climate. It would surely help in reducing city costs, especially in light of the forecasted shortfall in city revenues. Adding to the program the installation of photo voltaic panels on some buildings where the economics can be shown to be a no-brainer may require council action. The tank roof of the city water tank at the Stewart and Gray yard should be a shoo-in! A second program that needs not wait on Green Task Force action but may require Council action but involves no cost to the city is implementing a policy of providing expedited Planning and Building and Safety permits/approvals to applicants who propose, say, 15% better than Title 24 energy profile. An emergency ordinance could put this program in place without wait. Waiving permit fees, or partially reducing fees, on purely energy improvement projects by homeowners and businesses would certainly demonstrate that the city is serious about "encouraging and transforming" green behavior. - Harold Tskelenis, Downey

********** Published: May 22, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 5