Air Quality and Sustainability
The Town is committed to doing its part to create a more sustainable future. The Town's Climate Action Plan set a 2020 Goal to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 15% below the Town's 2005 levels (roughly the equivalent to 1990 GHG levels). The Town (you) reached and exceeded that target by attaining a GHG reduction of 27% below 2005 levels! Most of this was achieved through your participation with and the green energy choices made by Peninsula Clean Energy.
The next step is to reduce GHG emissions to 49% below the 2005 levels by 2030 (or, 40 percent below 1990 levels). The majority of Atherton’s greenhouse gas emissions are produced by gas-powered vehicles and gas-powered appliances in residential homes. To address these large targets, the Town will consider adoption of Reach Codes (Green Building Codes) later this year that will seek to place restrictions on new gas appliances, with limited exceptions.
A lesser contributor to GHG emissions locally are gas powered small engines - such as leaf blowers. The State recently took steps to reduce these emission producing devices by prohibiting the sale of new gas-powered small engines and lawn mowers starting in 2024. In the fall, the Town will consider amendments to its own ordinances to bring the Town into compliance with the mandate and address the use side of such devices. But the use of leaf blowers, whether gas or electric, also contribute to more immediate and local air quality concerns. The ordinance that the Town will consider may also include a restriction on the use of leaf blowers on Spare the Air Days. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) created the Spare the Air Program to provide the public with advance notice when air quality is expected to be unhealthy and to encourage actions to improve air quality in the Bay Area. Such actions can include restrictions on the use of devices that can stir up an increase in particulate matter (PM10's) - inhalable particles generally with diameters that are 10 micrometers and smaller. Leaf blowers, whether gas or electric, are a common use device that has an ability to stir up dust and other type of materials when used.
You can sign up to learn when such Spare the Air Day Alerts are released by visiting the BAAQMD website. Below is an example of a Spare the Air Day Alert for Tuesday, August 16.
A Spare the Air Alert is in effect, Tuesday, August 16, 2022, for the San Francisco Bay Area.
High temperatures and wildfire smoke are expected to increase smog buildup. Concentrations of ground-level ozone pollution are forecast to be unhealthy. High levels of ozone pollution are harmful to breathe, especially for young children, seniors and those with respiratory and heart conditions. Exhaust from vehicles on Bay Area roads accounts for more than half of the air pollution in the region. Bay Area residents are asked to drive less to reduce smog and improve air quality in the region.
Change your daily commute by carpooling, vanpooling, taking transit, biking or walking instead of driving alone. Doing this will help reduce pollution levels and health concerns when temperatures are high. To learn how to change your commute online, visit 511.org.
This AirAlert is provided by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. Thank you for doing your part to Spare the Air! For more information on the U.S. EPA's AIRNow Program, visit http://www.airnow.gov.