Millbrae’s sustainability program a beacon for county

With environmentally responsible initiatives such as a Styrofoam ban, Millbrae has paved the way with its forward-thinking policies that every city in the county will eventually follow, county officials said.

Millbrae’s sustainability program, close to completing its first year, won the only citywide award this year from Sustainable San Mateo County and is a role model for other cities looking at similar plans, said Tina King, the county program’s education and outreach director.

Millbrae offered solar panel rebates, created a green business program and passed out cards to the city’s hotels for guests to request new towels instead of automatically replacing them daily, saving water and energy, said Recycling Coordinator Shelly Reider, head of the sustainability program.

The program allows cities such as Millbrae to live comfortably without mortgaging its future resources, King said. Its main aspects include water treatment, housing policies, carbon emissions and green building.

With Millbrae, the only city in the county with a full program, implementing these strategies has not cost much money, either — and many procedures actually save cash in the long run, King said.

“We’re creating a framework for all cities that will help them develop their own sustainability program,” she said.

Hillsborough is one community looking to join Millbrae by adopting a sustainability program.A plan assisted by the county group should be laid out in December, Assistant City Manager Kathy Leroux said.

“A lot of cities are going green but not many cities understand the complete picture of sustainability, and that’s something that Millbrae is doing,” King said.

Millbrae’s program complements the county and vice versa, said Reider, who called her city’s efforts a “model that can be adapted to each city’s considerations.”

The city’s groundwork should inspire other communities to inevitably adopt sustainability procedures, King said.

mrosenberg@examiner.com

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