A new report by the prestigious Rocky Mountain Institute outlines a multifaceted roadmap for making the Salinas Valley sustainable, from developing a regional composting program to restoring Carr Lake.
“This is important for the long haul,” says Jeff Weir, Salinas economic development director. “We are serious about taking advantage of the opportunity of going green for the right reasons.”
The report, “Fresh Opportunities in the New Economy, Sustainability Initiatives in the Salinas Valley,” contains 14 green recommendations. Retrofitting energy inefficient buildings tops the list.
Michael Kinsley, senior consultant for sustainable communities at the Colorado-based institute, says building retrofits are a low-risk investment that recoup costs from energy savings. “Most buildings in the Salinas Valley are opportunities for business savings and jobs,” he says.
Kinsley says energy service companies, or ESCOs, can fund the rehabs. (ESCOs put up the capital for installing low-carbon lighting and heating systems, and get paid from energy savings.)
Salinas had Honeywell’s ESCO knocking on its doors to replace the Community Center’s air conditioner, and possibly develop alternative energy on site. But first, city leaders want to see if they get stimulus money for that project.
The Rocky Mountain Institute also recommends composting the vast amount of organic agricultural waste produced throughout the valley, building upon the Salinas Valley Solid Waste Authority’s 2015 goal to reduce landfill garbage by 75 percent. Salinas’ long-held dream of turning Carr Lake into a park the size of Golden Gate Park also got a nod. “It can be the physical keystone of the city,” Kinsley says.