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Greening the Golden State, cont'd...

Environmentally Preferable Purchasing

Green buying, or Environmentally Preferable Purchasing, is another focus of the Governor’s Green Building Initiative. EPP products are high quality, less toxic, reusable and easy to recycle. They use less materials, water and energy.

California law requires state government to practice EPP, and in recent months the California Integrated Waste Management Board and the DGS have completed, and posted online, 32 chapters of an EPP Best Practices Manual. The publication offers guidance to thousands of state purchasing agents.

Almost a million tons of old carpet end up in landfills every year – almost two percent of California’s waste stream. California purchases about 12 million square feet of new carpeting a year with 5.3 million square feet a year hauled off to landfills. To help alleviate the problem, the Department of General Services has established a wide-ranging new sustainable carpet standard. It mandates that all carpet purchases meet requirements for recycled content, low toxic emissions, and end-of-life recycling.

Other environmentally friendly purchasing regulations have also been put in place, including slashing by roughly two-thirds the amount of toxic mercury in replacement fluorescent lamps going into state buildings. Every year, the State replaces some 175,000 fluorescent tubes in thousands of state buildings.

California recently achieved its goal of recycling, or otherwise diverting from landfills, more than half its waste products. This is due in no small measure to the outreach, education and programs put in place by the CIWMB. E-waste recycling for old computers, fluorescent lamps, batteries, TV’s and other electronic equipment and supplies has meant big business for private companies throughout the state, who are specializing in its handling and disposal. In fact, Electronic Recyclers, California's largest recycler of electronic waste, in August became the first organization in California's history to recycle five million pounds of electronic waste in a one-month period.

Climate Change

California is the world’s 12th largest emitter of greenhouse gases. A year ago, the Governor set the goal of cutting California’s greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent, to 1990 levels, by 2020 and reduction to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. Executive Order S-3-05, the Global Warming Bill, which established these targets, also called for the creation of a Climate Action Team led by the Secretary of CalEPA, Linda Adams.

During the signing ceremony, British Prime Minister Tony Blair addressed the audience via satellite. “This will echo right round the rest of the world,” he said. “You are showing brilliant leadership that will inspire a lot of people worldwide.”

Recent legislation has given the governor’s 2020 target some teeth. As of September, California became the first state in the nation to impose a cap on the amount of carbon dioxide and other gases it puts into the atmosphere. Calling it “a historic agreement…to combat global warming,” the Governor signed the Global Warming Solutions Act, which mandates that major industries cut their output of greenhouses gases in a plan to trade emissions credits.

This furthers an accord with British Prime Minister Tony Blair that was signed in August, establishing joint research into cleaner-burning fuels and technologies. In the absence of an active national program to reduce emissions, California’s efforts have global significance.

The Climate Action Team is made up of high level representatives from key state agencies, such as the California Air Resources Board (ARB), the California energy Commission (CEC), California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and other state agencies. In a small sampling of the steps being considered or implemented, the Air Resources Board has approved motor vehicle regulations that by 2016 will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new vehicles sold in the state by about 30 percent. The CPUC is investigating the creation of a “carbon cap” on each regulated utility. A Climate Action Registry will encourage companies, government agencies and other organizations to measure and report their greenhouse gas emissions.

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April 7-9, 2008


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