One of the recommendations that CEC made when the City of Burlingame updated its Climate Action Plan (CAP) during 2019 was to report on sustainability progress each year. The city’s sustainability coordinator, Sigalle Michael, did so at the last CEC meeting. Here are some highlights. Ms. Michael’s full report to the City Council is Item 10a on the December 7 meeting agenda.

The city’s updated CAP is here. The Plan contains 20 measures to reduce about 50,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 2030. Many of the measures support ongoing efforts in Burlingame, such as planting new trees every year, improving bicycle and pedestrian accessibility, and continuing to increase Burlingame’s waste diversion. Some measures call for new ordinances and polices.

Here are Burlingame’s key sustainability accomplishments during 2020:

Reach Codes

The City’s largest achievement in sustainability this year was the adoption of new reach codes. The reach codes require new buildings to go beyond building code requirements to be all-electric (with some limited exceptions), have solar energy, and install electric vehicle charging stations. The City’s reach codes align with the reach codes adopted by other Bay Area cities and are a strong step toward decreasing the use of natural gas, a fossil fuel, in Burlingame buildings. The codes will decrease GHG emissions by an estimated 3,500 tons by 2030.

Peninsula Clean Energy

The City joined Peninsula Clean Energy (PCE) in 2017 as a way to ensure that the City and community at large use cleaner electricity. To date 98 perent of electricity customers in Burlingame are enrolled in PCE, and Burlingame customers have saved $1 million annually in utility bills. Switching to PCE has resulted in a 65 percent reduction in GHG emissions compared to 2016 levels, the equivalent to removing 10,000 vehicles from the road for a year. Starting in 2021, PCE’s default option will be 100 percent greenhouse gas free, which means Burlingame can expect even greater GHG emission reductions and benefits in the future.

Disposable Food Service Ware Ordinance

The City Council adopted an ordinance that dramatically limits the use of plastic food ware to address the 1.3 million pounds of trash that enter the San Francisco Bay every year – 80 perent of which consists of single use plastic food and beverage packaging. Under the new ordinance, all disposable containers, straws, and utensils must be non-plastic and compostable. However, due to the increasing pressure of COVID-19 on restaurants, San Mateo County will only start enforcing the ordinance in March 2022, and Burlingame will follow suit.

EV (Electric Vehicle) Action Plan

Burlingame’s CAP calls for Burlingame to have 25 public EV charging stations by 2030, 50 by 2040, and 75 by 2050. Burlingame will be meeting its 2030 target next year with the construction of the new parking garage downtown on Lot N as part of the Village at Burlingame project. The garage will contain 23 EV charging stations, increasing the number of public EV station parking spots in the city to 35 in 2021. The EV Action Plan pushes Burlingame to accelerate its EV goals to 100 publicly available EV charging stations by 2030.

BAWSCA Programs

The Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency (BAWSCA) offers rebates and programs for cities to help conserve water. Burlingame hosted three landscaping classes on Zoom: Rainwater Harvesting; Attracting the Good Bugs (in partnership with the CEC); and Rain Gardens 101. In addition it coordinated several school programs.

BAWSCA also offered three rebate programs: for smart irrigation controls; for rain barrels; and for high efficiency toilets.

Sea Level Rise

The Public Works Department is pursuing a grant from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Administration) in partnership with the City of Millbrae, San Francisco International Airport, and San Mateo County Flood and Sea Level Rise Resiliency District. If awarded, the grants will be used to fund engineering studies and preliminary design solutions to reduce the impacts of sea level rise in the Bayfront.