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Cataloging green efforts

Environmental group models its plans on U.N. standards to reduce Burbank’s carbon footprint.

June 27, 2009|By Christopher Cadelago

The Sustainable Burbank Task Force, a newly assembled group of developers, small-business owners and community leaders, began its meeting earlier this month deciding how not to spend its first year.

After a protracted discussion, former Mayor Jef Vander Borght took issue with one of the suggestions.

“Somebody said, ‘We’re not here to save the world,’” he said. “That I disagree with.”

His attitude appears to have permeated the Media Capital of the World, from the school district to the studios, City Hall to Burbank Water and Power, said Ron Davis, the utility’s general manager.

The City Council last year adopted the Sustainability Action Plan with an emphasis on waste, water usage, business practices, urban design, open space and transportation. Cities are urged to implement as many of the 21 actions before World Environment Day 2012.

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Burbank modeled its plan on the United Nations Urban Environmental Accords, designed to promote energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase environmentally beneficial jobs and protect drinking water.

Charged with advising and recommending ways to the council for implementing the plan, the task force will examine initiatives at its monthly meetings as well as bring a fresh perspective to the agenda, said Public Works Director Bonnie Teaford.

“For the first time ever, Burbank has put together a comprehensive review of what the city’s efforts are,” she said. “All these little efforts added up will make a difference, and that is what we are starting to see happen.”

Spurred on by consumer rebates, Burbank Water and Power has funded 36 projects with a total capacity of 1,428 kilowatts, said John Joyce, the utility’s solar support program manager. The solar panels are throughout the city, such as atop car ports, homes and small businesses, an airport hangar and studio stages.

Davis said the utility has pledged to purchase 33% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. The city two years ago entered into an 18-year agreement for wind power from new development Pebble Springs in northern Oregon.

The utility offers numerous rewards and incentives for energy-efficient home appliances and commercial retrofitting.

While some of its measures, including a sustainable water use ordinance and retrofit upon resale, were met with criticism, Davis said it’s easy to get bogged down politically.

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