Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Climate Action Plan for Wildomar, Part 2

I've read Lake Elsinore's Climate Action Plan (LE CAP) and it has answered many questions about how the general climate mitigation measures cited in Western Riverside Council of Government's draft climate action plan would look when implemented in a Wildomar plan. The Lake Elsinore plan was written by Rincon Consultants, Inc. of Ventura, CA. A qualified consultant can do a good job, but I hope that Wildomar can produce a climate action plan without the expense of hiring a consulting firm.

I've also tried to download the software used to create emissions inventories for cities in our region. I believe it is available at the link below, but I have yet to hear a reply to my request for the software:
I'm using the Lake Elsinore plan to supplement my understanding of the climate mitigation measures that Wildomar is participating in according to WRCOG's draft climate action plan. I've commented on these measures in previous post, and here I'm mostly adding information from the LE CAP.

The city of Wildomar will be incorporating the following measures in it's general plan:
  • Yard waste collection for areas not already served. This diverts waste from landfills and has no other measurable climate mitigation benefit. 
  • Traffic signal coordination. This makes vehicle traffic on the city's major roads more efficient, with fewer starts and stops.
  • Mixed use developments.This passage from the LE CAP helps define what mixed-use development will look like and is intended to do:
    Land use patterns affect the amount and type of travel that occurs in an area. Having different types of land uses near one another, such as with mixed-use development, can reduce vehicle miles traveled since trips between land use types are shorter and may be accommodated by non-auto modes of transport. Density (the number of people and businesses in a given area) and infill development also affects the distances that people must travel and increase the use of transit, walking and cycling (USEPA, 2007). In addition, locating higher density development near transit will facilitate the use of transit by people traveling to or from the development. 
  • Increased density.  I thought one of the benefits of increasing density would be less impact on open space. This benefit may occur, but inferring from the LE CAP, protecting open space isn't the stated goal:
    ...Density Bonus Incentives [apply] to a residential project located within 1,500 feet of a regular bus stop or rapid transit system stop; located within a quarter mile from a public park or community center; or within a half mile from school grounds/facilities open to the general public, a full-service grocery store, hospital, medical clinic, or pharmacy. Placing residences close to key retail services, recreational facilities, schools, and bus stops increases the likelihood that an individual would walk or drive to such destinations, or use the bus as transportation"
    Density will reduce fuel consumption of residential activities (e.g., travel between store and home) but not necessarily reduce long distance commuting. I am concerned about the goal and appearance of increasing density and whether it is a feature that Wildomar wants and needs.
  • Expand areas served by public transit
  • Expand the times served by public transit
  • End of trip facilities. Shower and locker facilities encourage cycling to locations in Wildomar. This will probably be achieved by conditions on new construction.
    From the LE CAP: Despite improvements to the bikeway system, citizens may still be deterred from biking if there are not places to park or shower once they arrive to their destination. This measure ...stipulates that new developments provide bicycle lockers, showers, and bike racks on site in order to incentivize bicycle commuting. By requiring these facilities, citizens will be encouraged to bicycle rather than drive, thus lowering the City’s emissions.
  • Add bicycle parking.
    From the LE CAP: Short-Term Bicycle Parking: If the project is anticipated to generate visitor traffic, provide permanently anchored bicycle racks within 200 feet of the visitor entrance, readily visible to passers-by, for 5% of visitor motorized vehicle parking capacity, with a minimum of one two-bike capacity rack.  Long-Term Bicycle Parking: For buildings with over 10 tenant occupants, provide secure bicycle parking for 5% of tenant-occupied motorized vehicle parking capacity, with a minimum of one space.
In addition to the measures that Wildomar will adopt, I'd like to see the following measures from in the LE CAP added to Wildomar's:

Promotion of shade trees
From the LE CAP: Through the development review process, require new development to plant at minimum one 15-gallon nondeciduous, umbrella-form tree per 30 linear feet of boundary length near buildings, per the Municipal Code. Trees shall be planted in strategic locations around buildings or to shade pavement in parking lots and streets.

"nondeciduous, umbrella-form tree?"
By this, I assume they mean "palm tree." If so, then this is the only objection I've have to the LE CAP. They've ignored their consultant's advice:

Researchers have found that planting deciduous trees or vines to the west is typically most effective for cooling a building, especially if they shade windows and part of the building’s roof.

I recall reading in the Press Enterprise that some cities have regretted planting too many of certain types of palms. I saved this diagram from the article:
Palms provide only a fraction of the shade provided by a wide crown umbrella-form deciduous tree, and probably are more water dependent than a tree that is native to our region. I urge Wildomar to use a variation of the LE CAP that says require new development to plant at minimum one 15-gallon shade tree (preferably native or low water and non-invasive) per 30 linear feet of boundary length in strategic locations around buildings or to shade pavement in parking lots and streets. 

Reflective roof tops.
From the LE CAP: Amend the City Municipal Code to require new non-residential development to use roofing materials having solar reflectance, thermal emittance or Solar Reflectance Index (SRI)3 consistent with CalGreen Tier 1 values (Table A5., and implement through conditions of approval.
Cool roofs are most effective in hot, sunny climates...because the buildings stay cooler, less energy is used for air conditioning and GHG emissions are reduced. Cool roofs deflect some desired heat gain during the winter. In general, though, cool roofs result in net energy savings, especially in areas where electricity prices are high (USEPA, 2009).

Low water and native plant landscaping (primarily affecting public buildings). Per the LE CAP, in 2010 Lake Elsinore adopted a landscape ordinance to require landscaping [that] is water efficient, and thereby consumes less energy and reduces emissions. Landscaping with native plants consumes less energy, lowers maintenance and costs, and reduces GHG emissions.
My native plant garden. The automated sprinkler control has been broken for a few years, and I've had no need to fix it.

As most of my suggested additions are prototyped in the LE CAP, I hope Wildomar can follow Lake Elsinore's strategies.

And last, there are few measures that aren't described in a regional climate action plan. I don't know of Wildomar can add it's own items to the CAP menu. If it can, I hope to explore these:
  • Covered pools. An open, heated 15x20-foot pool is comparable to having a dozen dripping faucets in one's home. If the pool has a waterfall, evaporation is even greater. Riverside building codes require door alarms for homes with pools. These alarms are very unforgiving in that they go into alarm when a door, such as a sliding glass door which people like to leave open, is open for about 10 seconds. I suspect most people who get permits and install such alarms later disable them. A pool safety cover would eliminate the need for alarms and would double as a insulator for heat and reduce evaporation. It seems that codes that require alarms could require easy-to-use covers instead.
  • Protection of large trees. The rate of CO2 uptake increases with age, making large trees, with a proven survival record, worth preserving.
  • Aimed lighting. Better lighting would improve the darkness of the night sky and liberate residents from the nuisance of light trespass and the safety hazard of glare. Any light that is aimed downward is more energy efficient, as well as more effective at providing light for safety and security.
  • Reclamation of waste-water and run-off.

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