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Recommendation to incorporate Green Design Standards in the Downtown Specific Plan

From: domainremoved <Tom>
Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2018 16:23:41 -0700

April 17, 2018


Re: Recommendation to incorporate Green Design Standards in the Downtown Specific Plan

Dear Mayor and Councilmembers,

In considering amendments to the Downtown/El Camino Real Specific Plan this year you have an important opportunity to incorporate the goals and policies adopted as part of the 2016 General Plan Update that focused on the M2/Bayfront area.

My decades of experience as an environmental engineer working for gas and electric utilities has convinced me that cities need to take new steps to steer building developers from stranding environmentally obsolete technologies in their new buildings and remodels. Essentially, as California becomes more serious about reducing climate damaging emissions, fossil gas technologies will be recognized as liabilities that will face relatively expensive removal. Your forward looking M2 green building standards can be applied in the downtown area as well and would send the proper signal to developers to avoid installing and stranding increasingly outdated fossil gas infrastructure.

As development continues in downtown Menlo Park, it is paramount that the same environmental standards enacted in M2/Bayfront area are applied to new projects in Downtown/El Camino Real district.

Updating the Downtown Specific Plan Green Design Standards is an important step to ensure equity across all of Menlo Park. It also shows continued commitment to meet Climate Action Plan goals.

This action would implement the General Plan’s ninth Guiding Principle, which is:

“Menlo Park is a leader in efforts to address climate change, adapt to sea-level rise, protect natural and built resources, conserve energy, manage water, utilize renewable energy, and promote green building.”

See https://www.menlopark.org/DocumentCenter/View/15014, page I-9.
The recently adopted zoning regulations for Menlo Park’s ConnectMenlo area codify these principles

into an exemplary set of environmental standards that highlight Menlo Park’s leadership.

I recommend Council consider all aspects of the M2 green building standards when updating the Downtown Specific Plan, and particularly the following:

1. While the state of California is on track to usher in zero net energy (ZNE) homes by 2020 and commercial buildings by 2030, Menlo Park has implemented a novel approach that enables zero carbon buildings before the state ZNE standards kick in. The new zoning standards in the ConnectMenlo area now require new developments to use 100 percent renewable energy, which guides a gradual transition to fossil-fuel-free buildings. The policy has flexible options built in to ease the transition, such as purchasing renewable energy from multiple providers, installing solar or other renewables within the City of Menlo Park, or purchasing renewable energy credits equal to the energy demand of the project each year. This is a remarkable step to address the growing carbon emissions from natural gas uses, which account for more than twice the GHG emissions of electricity in Menlo Park.

2. The new zoning in the ConnectMenlo area also requires new development projects to complete an on-site renewable energy feasibility study and install at least 30 percent of the maximum renewables feasible on-site. This will likely lead to significant financial savings from building utility bills. It also provides flexibility for developers who prefer to focus on rooftop gardens and shade trees.

I hope Menlo Park continues to demonstrate that leadership and that other similar green design standards are analyzed and evaluated for consideration if the Downtown Specific Plan is amended.

Thank you for leading this important evolution of policy.


Tom Kabat

424 Pope Street

Menlo Park
Received on Tue Apr 17 2018 - 16:25:28 PDT

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