|What gets measured, gets done|
|Written by Kacey Fitzpatrick|
|Wednesday, 13 February 2008|
In response to the editorial “Politically correct, yes, but practical?” (Town Crier, Feb. 6), Cool Los Altos, a volunteer group of local residents and business owners, says an emphatic “yes!” Los Altos’ decision to invest in an inventory of city operations is not only practical, but also critical to any meaningful reductions in our city’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. The city needs to know its starting point.
At the same time, we agree with the editorial board that the net needs to be cast broadly into the community. As such, Cool Los Altos has asked for both a city inventory and a community inventory to be completed, and we are requesting a broad-based, open and flexible task force to involve the community in finding solutions.
City operations is the one piece the city of Los Altos can control entirely, thereby offering an opportunity for the city to lead the community by example. Reducing the city’s carbon footprint can happen strategically over many years, one step at a time.
Among actions that the city could take are upgrading vehicle fleets to plug-in hybrids, constructing and retrofitting city buildings (starting with the new civic center) ultra efficiently, investing in solar photovoltaic for electricity and solar thermal for hot water and replacing downtown tree lights with light-emitting diodes, to name a few. Experts agree that most of these actions would even save money over the long term.
But before acting, we need a thoughtful blueprint. An open task force could use the expertise in the community to gather recommendations for green city policies and local programs and initiatives to build awareness and opportunities for greener living.
In the interim, Cool Los Altos plans to continue working at a grassroots level to create more awareness about global warming and highlight what we all can do as individuals. For example, we are planning a communitywide “low carbon diet” to see how many households can reduce their carbon footprints by some percentage. Los Altos City Councilman David Casas has offered to help initiate this by first measuring, then reducing his carbon footprint, and allowing his trials and triumphs to be featured in the Town Crier beginning in March.
Kacey Fitzpatrick is team leader for Cool Los Altos.
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