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SOUNDING OFF:Steps toward a greener Laguna

On June 2, I attended a meeting of Laguna Beach Climate Protection Work Group. The purpose of the group is to reduce the damaging emissions generated by Laguna, it’s residents, businesses, transport and so on. The group is made up of members of the public who are guided by the Laguna Beach Environmental Committee.

The meeting was very interesting, not only due to the information presented but also due to the number of attendants.

These meeting are public meetings and will ultimately lead to positive changes that will affect all Laguna Beach residents, and yet less than a dozen members of the public attended.

Hey, all you Earth Day celebrators, this is your chance to make a difference in our “earth trustee city.”

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Chris Prelitz gave a great presentation on “Buildings and Energy Efficiency.”

Many of the points raised by Prelitz were simple yet incredibly effective and could cut your electricity bill in half. He has witnessed this on more than one occasion as a result of simply changing light bulbs to energy- efficient ones.

He has also seen a private residence reduce its bill by 50% just by replacing an old refrigerator with a new energy star model. For many homes, refrigerators are the single largest user of electricity.

In Santa Monica, the National Resources Defense Council renovated (not remodeled) a 1920s building. The renovations reduced the energy required to run the building by 70%.

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I thought I was doing well by getting my electricity bills down to a maximum of $25 a month for my two-bedroom 1930s Laguna cottage, but Prelitz’ talk shows that we can do better.

So in addition to the compact fluorescent light bulbs, Energy Star appliances, wall, loft and under-floor insulation that I have installed, I’m going to try to reduce the heat gain through the windows.

I don’t want to cough up for new windows with low-emittance glass so I will look into professionally installed window film and window shades that have a huge impact on energy use.

Shading windows in summer is one of the most important steps to improve building comfort and reduce energy demand. But I never realized that shading the windows on the outside was much more effective than interior shades.

The sun’s heat has already entered the building by the time it hits interior shades. There are other options, like using shade trees or trellises to keep the heat out. In doing so we will save money and save the planet — that sounds like a pretty good deal.

After you get efficient, if you want to have no electricity bill you will need solar panels to generate your own electricity. You may already know that the payback time is not that long and that the state and federal governments offer tax credits to reduce your cost.

If you’ve held off because your housing association does not allow solar panels, you will be pleased to hear that a state law (AB 2473) says that no city, homeowners’ association or other entity may restrict the installation of solar systems beyond health and safety.

I think it is great that the city of Laguna Beach is making moves in the right direction, but Laguna Beach should be leading other cities, not lagging behind.

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Santa Monica city buildings run on renewable energy and more than 50% of Pasadena city employees carpool, take the bus or train, walk or ride a bike to work. I wonder how Laguna Beach compares.

I find it ironic that so many residents of Laguna Beach complain about the traffic, and yet when the public has a chance to make some positive changes, only a handful of faces show up.

If you love Laguna Beach, then help to keep it such a great place. The next Climate Protection Work Group meeting is Saturday at 1 p.m. in the multipurpose room at Lang Park. This is posted on the city web site, www.lagunabeachcity.net.


  • MAX ISLES lives in Laguna Beach.

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