Report: County getting greener
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
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
“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
“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
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