(By Lina Constantinovici)
On Friday, April 11, 2008 at Casa Verde in the Mission, Mayor Gavin Newsom addressed his plans to put Carbon Tax on the November ballot. Voter support of this initiative would position San Francisco as the first city in the US to take a regulatory approach in addressing climate change. As the debate over cap and trade vs. carbon tax continues at national and local levels, the mayor expressed he does not consider the solution to be an either or proposition. Businesses in San Francisco have expressed concern over the proposed tax and the impact of a potential increase in expenses for those operating within the city limits. The Mayor’s proposal includes a decrease in the payroll tax burden to offset the cost of the Carbon Tax to businesses.
The Mayor also spoke to his commitment to residential wind energy while on a tour of Casa Verde, currently one of the 12 greenest homes in the world with a considerably smaller carbon footprint than the average home. The Sunset Magazine Idea house located the Mission district of San Francisco, one of the first LEED (link to LEED site) certified residential remodeled homes in the nation, gets 40% of its power from the windmill in the back yard, has a solar water heating system, PV solar panels, a living roof, and underground rainwater storage tanks used for the washing machine cold cycle and to flush toilets.
This contemporary 3 story home features an inverted floorplan with an atrium entrance reminiscent of Southern European design, with outdoor patio, lap pool and sauna on ground level. A glass and steel staircase leads to the second level bedrooms and bathrooms, featuring sustainable materials such as tiles made from recycled glass and concrete, and accented by aesthetic, yet sustainable enhancements like the LED chandelier as a lighting solution. The third floor is an open living space with kitchen, dining and living areas surrounded by a windshielded wrap around balcony. The daylighting focused design and resulting natural light in this part of the home, contributes to its energy efficiency, while enhancing the living experience of its homeowners. The living roof provides an aesthetic as well as functional way of further reducing the environmental impact of this home.
As the Mayor toured the home with owner Robin Wilson, he addressed the current zoning and permitting barriers to such residential construction and his commitment to revise the regulatory process. He expressed ‚ÄòAll we need is for bureaucracy to catch up with technology.”
Lina Constantinovici is a sustainable management consultant, who’s worked with the W Hotel, Wal-mart, the EPA, and Greener World Media. She recently helped SF Environment develop a proposal for a San Francisco Waste Offset Fee, which will be included in the carbon tax legislation on the ballot this fall. Lina is currently pursuing her MBA at Presidio School of Management.