ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY

Berkeley needs a sustainable future.

Berkeley has a well-earned reputation for being at the forefront of environmental sustainability. Our city’s accomplishments range from being the first to ban Styrofoam in restaurants, to our award-winning Climate Action Plan, which sets an ambitious goal of an 80% reduction in citywide greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 - a goal set by 81% of voters in 2006.

However, we still face environmental challenges in our community. Climate change is an ever-present and worsening threat, and Berkeley is falling short of achieving its climate action goals. We're only just starting to grapple with single-use disposable plastics, we've failed to adequately address the persistent problem of lead paint throughout our community, and stormwater management and mitigation will become an even greater challenge as we continue to experience more extreme weather.

Ben’s Solutions

Ensuring a clean and healthy environment for current and future generations

As former Chair of the Environmental Advisory Commission, I have been a strong advocate for environmental sustainability, addressing issues ranging from indoor air quality, to CO2 emissions from natural gas, to lead paint hazards in older buildings. As a Sustainability Analyst for San Francisco International Airport, I use data and policy analysis to identify effective strategies for achieving net zero carbon, net zero energy, and zero waste. On Council, I'll continue to push for strong and smart environmental and climate policies, in order to address our emissions and plan for a sustainable future.

Policy goals: Reducing Berkeley's per capita greenhouse gas emissions and overall environmental footprint.

How we get there:

  • Champion alternative and carbon-free forms of transportation: walking, biking, buses, electric scooters, vehicle sharing, and electric vehicles.
  • Advocate for state-level reform to allow the deep decarbonization of buildings by phasing out the use of natural gas.
  • Support East Bay Clean Energy to provide 100% carbon-free power to all residents of Alameda County.
  • Develop a Climate Adaptation & Mitigation Plan, building upon recommendations in the Climate Action Plan, to prepare Berkeley for a changing future, including strategies to plan for and mitigate sea level rise, handle increased stormwater in El Niño years, manage extreme heat and increased fire risks, and develop drought resilience.
  • Advocate for creating new green and affordable homes near transit, campus, and employment destinations, to help reduce vehicle use, congestion, and transportation emissions, and improve transit service.
  • Bring Berkeley’s bicycle infrastructure into the twenty-first century, with buffered and striped bike lanes, separated bike paths, and additional secure bike parking throughout the city.
  • Reduce barriers to installing electric vehicle charging stations, and support addition of public electric vehicle charging stations throughout Berkeley.
  • Require new construction to install either solar panels, solar thermal, or green roofs, to reduce our emissions and increase access to sustainable energy and food.
  • Propose new standards for on-site bicycle parking in new residential construction.
  • Require new construction citywide to meet minimum levels of green building standards, comparable to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) requirements.
  • Develop policies for new buildings near BART to provide community benefits, like affordable housing and transit funding, in lieu of stringent parking requirements.
  • Expand bike sharing throughout the East Bay, and encourage the placement of bike-share stations in commercial areas and near major transit stops.
  • Work closely with BART and AC Transit to increase access to and frequency of public transit throughout Berkeley, including the 6, 51B, 52, 7, 18, and 72/R/M; as well as transbay buses like the F and FS.
  • Improve transit service in Berkeley by partnering with AC Transit to enhance transit infrastructure and increase service frequency.
  • Hold contractors and property owners accountable for proper removal and disposal of toxic lead paint in our homes.
  • Expand green stormwater infrastructure through a citywide Watershed Management Plan, targeting necessary improvements in key locations to manage our runoff.
  • Require disposable foodware and single-use plastics to be made from certified compostable materials.

Why this works: Berkeley's greenhouse gas emissions predominantly come from transportation, natural gas in buildings, and electricity. We need both vehicle electrification and smart and effective land use policies that enable people to have alternatives to driving in order to meaningfully tackle that element of our emissions; electricity emissions will be nearly eliminated with East Bay Clean Energy coming online, while natural gas in buildings requires state-level policy reform to meaningfully address (but must be in order to meet our goals).

Got additional suggestions? Let me know here, or email me at ben@bengould.org!