April 30, 2010
  • 4/30/2010 - Report: County getting greener 

    By Bill Silverfarb 

    San Mateo Daily Journal 

     

    Green building construction in San Mateo County has increased almost six fold since 2005, 

    according to the 2010 Indicators for a Sustainable San Mateo County report card, released 

    yesterday. 

     

     

    At least five cities and the county now require new projects and renovations meet certain green 

    building criteria, a positive trend, according to the report. 

     

     

    The report tracks 32 different “indicators” or trends relating to the county’s economic, social and 

    environmental health and has been put together for 14 years now by Sustainable San Mateo 

    County, a nonprofit agency. 

     

     

    The top five trends in 2009, according to the report, are the rise in county unemployment; the 

    lack of equity in health outcomes among persons of color; the increase in transit-oriented 

    development; the drop in median home prices; and the demand for safety net services for the 

    county’s homeless population. 

     

     

    Other positive trends, according to the report, are the county’s air quality; health of its children; 

    decline in water consumption; and decline in gas use. 

     

     

    The news isn’t all good in the report, however, as the unemployment rate in the county has 

    doubled in the past few years and total energy use has increased for each of the past three years 

    in the county. 

     

     

    The incidence of diabetes and asthma in the county has also increased significantly since 1998 

    and the rate of premature mortality is extremely uneven among races and incomes, according to 

    the report. 

     

     

    “We are finally catching up with what Sustainable San Mateo County has been trying to do,” 

    said county Supervisor Carole Groom, who moderated yesterday’s launch of the report. “They 

    have been ahead of the rest of us.” 

     

     The 80-page report is largely volunteer-driven and took about 500 hours to put together, said 

    Adam Lynch, the project coordinator for the report. 

     

     

    “The report is a dictionary of sorts that puts these issues into a common language,” Lynch said. 

     

     

    S.T. Mayer, the county’s director of health and planning, spoke to the importance of the report at 

    yesterday’s launch. 

     

     

    “We are at a crisis point regarding health,” Mayer said. “For the first time, children are not 

    predicted to live as long as their parents.” 

     

     

    She also pointed out that a person’s life expectancy can be determined by a number — the ZIP 

    code where a person lives. 

     

     

    That fact, Mayer said, points to a lack of equity in providing health services for people from 

    lower economic backgrounds. 

     

     

    The report also highlights the lack of child-care in the county. 

     

     

    “Those who need it most don’t have access to it,” said Sarah Kinahan, of the Child Care 

    Coordinating Council of San Mateo County. 

     

     

    Childcare professionals are underpaid and generally do not have benefits, Kinahan said. 

     

     

    “The indicators report lends weight to the argument for increased quality child-care,” Kinahan 

    said. 

     

     

    Sustainable San Mateo County and Recycleworks of San Mateo County are joining together to 

    launch a contest call “The Biggest User,” said Kari Binley, executive director at SSMC. 

     

     

    “We are looking for the most inefficient homes to conduct performance audits on,” Binley said. 

     

     The contest encourages homeowners to consider how they can improve the comfort and health of 

    their home while saving money on their energy bills, according to SSMC. Four winners will 

    receive a home performance evaluation and $1,000 toward home improvements. 

     

     

    For more information on the group and its “Biggest Users” contest visit 

    www.sustainablesanmateo.org/.