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Planning for Minimum Carbon Impact

Consider this - you're a developer or consultant trying to do a project and at the same time do the right thing for climate change.  Or you're a planning agency wanting new projects that will help you achieve your Climate Action Plan goals.  Or you're a resident who wants to see clean, low impact projects in your community.

How do you get ahead of the curve and plan intelligently for low carbon impact from the get go?

There are many things to consider when planning a project for minimum carbon impact. To get a project entitled through CEQA, building energy, transportation, water, solid waste and construction-related emissions must be reported.  Vegetation is the 6th category, including natural and landscaped portions of a project.

So how do you plan ahead, and shape these conditions instead of them acting adversely on you?

Here are five tips to get you started. They'll help you avoid being surprised by carbon impacts later:

  1. Plan Ahead: As in many other areas of life, project development has a better chance of success when potential problems are anticipated and avoided. Get an early reading of the amount of your project's emissions. Several jurisdictions have "bright line" thresholds of significance, which trigger EIR preparation.
  2. Communicate: Build confidence in your efforts to create a low carbon project. When you're transparent about your information, you can build confidence that you are trying to do the right thing. This works whether you're the developer, a consultant, a planning agency or community group.
  3. Be Flexible: Use the best information you have at the time, but don't be too fixed on its conclusions. When better information comes along, consider it and act on it. This is where good forecasting information, continually updated, can help.
  4. Watch Your Pennies: Time is money, so don't go down a trail with a project without a plan for why you're going that way.
  5. Use the Right Tool for the Job: A good way to start is with Carbon Planner. It is designed to give you good information from the very first stage of your project-before you know any details. You can go for precision later, when the project is going through screening for entitlement. There are good tools such as CalEEMod for those later stages, but you're going to spend some money on consultants to run your scenario.  

Finally - stay agile, stay lean, use the information you already have, and communicate!

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