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Mill Valley's Environmental Initiatives

City of Mill Valley - Protecting the Environment

The City of Mill Valley has made a commitment to protect the environment by enacting the following measures in City operations. Read on to learn more about the actions the City has taken to help improve and preserve our natural environment. For the most recent environmental initiatives, please visit the City Green page.

To see a video on some of the environmental initiatives mentioned on this page, please visit ZDNet for a short feature on Mill Valley.

Energy Conservation slide

  • The pool and spa at the Aquatics Center are covered to conserve heat and energy.
  • The Community Center keeps the pool roof closed more often to conserve heat.
  • The City has switched the fluorescent lights from T12 to more energy efficient T8.
  • We have switched our traffic signals from incandescent bulbs to Light Emitting Diodes (LED's).
  • Appliances for the City buildings are replaced with energy efficient appliances.
  • We use solar power speed monitors.
  • We have photo cells on all outdoor lights so they turn on when it is dark and off when it is light outside.
  • The Community Center and most City restrooms use motion detectors to turn on lights only when someone is using the room. 
  • We reduce energy use through reducing hours of operation – City Hall is closed every other Friday (so lights, computers, heaters are not used).
  • We provide incentives for solar power by waiving building permit fees for solar projects.
  • Large homes use about 40% more energy than smaller homes. The City requires very large homes to use energy saving measures (such as better insulation, solar power and energy saving appliances) so they do not use more energy than smaller homes.
  • The SASM wastewater treatment plant and City Hall have changed out all the “Exit” signs to LED type signs.

Preserving Air Quality

  • Electric carThe City has one electric vehicle for the Park & Recreation department. We have one hybrid vehicle for our vehicle fleet and will phase in more as older vehicles are retired from the fleet.
  • We notify employees of Spare the Air Day and encourage them to use alternative transportation (bus, bikes, walking) and not use barbeques or gas powered lawnmowers on certain days when there is bad air quality.
  • We send out Spare the Air Tonight notifications to residents and employees to inform them of the City ordinance which prohibits wood burning on Spare the Air nights.
  • City residents are not allowed to use gas-powered leaf blowers.
  • The City requires that new fireplaces be gas or wood-burning fireplaces and certified by the Environmental Protection Agency as less polluting. Well-designed fireplaces and gas fireplaces limit the amount of smoke the fires produce and minimize air pollution.

Reducing Car Use

  • The City provides a vanpool for 10 employees from Rohnert Park/Petaluma. This saves 20 car trips per day.
  • We work with Safe Routes to Schools and the Marin Bicycle Coalition to make it safer for kids to bike and walk to school.
  • We are working on a new plan for Miller Avenue to help increase use of alternative transit through better bicycle lanes and pedestrian friendly amenities like benches and nice sidewalks, better street crossing areas and encouraging housing so people live closer to the stores and services.

Review Construction Projects to Protect the Environment

  • Every City project and development project is to consider traffic impacts, impacts to wildlife and habitat, and other issues.
  • On December 1, 2008, the City Council unanimously adopted a Green Building Ordinance, authored and advanced by City Green, that establishes green building requirements for residential and commercial development in the City. For more information about Green Building, click here.

Waste Reduction Recycled Lumber

  • Every workstation has paper recycling and we try to reduce waste in day to day operations, such as copying on both sides of paper and using email.
  • We chip bushes and compost landscaping debris to recycle as mulch to help the plants grow, prevent weeds, and reduce the amount of organic material sent to the landfill. 
  • We recycle removed trees for lumber with our Recycled Lumber Program.  This lumber is used in City building projects around Mill Valley.
  • We use and purchase recycled materials whenever possible.
  • We collect and transport fluorescent light bulbs to the recycling center
  • The City offers a collection bin for old batteries at City Hall, the Community Center, Fire Department, SASM wastewater treatment plant, Library and Police Department.
  • We recycle toner cartridges.
  • The SASM wastewater treatment plant removes solid materials from wastewater and treats it. Remaining materials, called “biosolids”, are recycled in the summer at the Oat farm in Sonoma County.
  • The City auto shop recycles oil and antifreeze.
  • The City has a Construction and Demolition Waste Recovery Ordinance which requires building contractors to recycle or reuse 50% of the waste that they generate from a construction project (wood, metal, windows, doors). 
  • The City requires large building projects to provide recycling areas.
  • We host an annual eWaste event to collect electronics and prevent them from ending up in the landfill.

Climate Protection

  • The City Council signed a resolution to participate in the Cities for Climate Protection Campaign and the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives with the intention of taking a leadership role in promoting public awareness about the causes and impacts of climate change.

Water Conservation

  • The City reclaims wastewater to re-use in irrigation.
  • We require all new building projects to have landscape plans that conserve water.

Protection of Wildlife Habitat, Birds and Animals Gem Pond

  • The City maintains a freshwater wildlife pond.
  • The City participates in “Wetlands Days” for school groups.
  • We have an integrated pest management program that has cut back the use of pesticides and herbicides by 80%.
  • The City restored the Elizabeth Terwilliger Teaching Marsh, an area between the Middle School and the Community Center. This marshland provides important bird and wildlife habitat. 
  • The Parks Department works with local schools and the Marin County Parks Department to plant native plants along the creek in both Old Mill Park and Boyle Park.
  • We prevent creek pollution by teaching residents not do dump pollution or dirty water into the street drains, which drain to the creeks and bay.
  • We work with the Regional Water Quality Control board to prevent water pollution from leaks and overflows in the City sewer system. 
  • The City protects large native trees such as redwoods, oaks and madrones with our Tree Ordinance.
  • We help to protect rare and threatened species by making sure that people do not build in wildlife habitats.
  • The City requires construction crews to take precautions to protect fish and birds, such as prohibiting construction during certain times of the year.
  • No buildings are allowed to be constructed within 30 feet of a creek bank to protect the creek habitat for the fish and other wildlife.
  • Development projects are required to take measures so that their rain water runoff does not pollute the creeks – using vegetated areas to filter the water, dispersing the water runoff on site so it can absorb in the soil and eventually return to the creek.
  • We host Mill Valley Beautification Day on Earth Day of every year to encourage residents to help clean up and restore habitat in Mill Valley.
  • The City maintains miles of Steps, Lanes, and Paths to provide access throughout the city and to promote walking as a means of transportation.

Buy/Grow Local Produce

  • The City maintains a Community Garden, which has 35 registered plots to provide space for Mill Valley citizens to garden together.
Last updated: 2/2/2011 9:38:08 AM