by Alex Weber
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District will decide today whether or not to adopt landmark greenhouse-gas emission standards for local construction projects. The new standards would apply emission caps or “thresholds” determined by the California Environmental Quality Act to future development in the Bay Area.
“This will be the first time we’ve defined greenhouse gas thresholds for CEQA projects,” BAAQMD spokesman Aaron Richardson said. “We’re one of the first agencies in the nation on the frontline for this.”
Under the proposed guidelines, projects with total greenhouse gas emissions equaling more than 1,100 tons — that’s equivalent to similar emissions spouted by about 56 average single-family homes — would be considered to have a significant impact on the environment. That would force developers of large projects, such as a suburban tract-home developments, to make them more green, such as adding solar panels, providing access to mass transit, or improving energy efficiency.
While numerous health and environment groups including Breathe California and the Sierra Club support the new standards, they may not curb suburban sprawl and encourage more urban development, and thereby significantly impact greenhouse gases overall — an issue the Express explored in a January article.