Those of us who have been working in the area of sustainability understand the science on climate change and climate impacts. Based on that understanding, we are very worried that we will squander the financial opportunity we have now if state-of-the-art green building measures are not incorporated at every level in our new school enlargement plans.
It is anticipated that great economic stressors will be imposed on our region and at a national level when dramatic levels of financial resources will be have to be redirected in order to address even a small portion of the sea level rise expected going forward. At the rate that warming is occurring, it is very possible that within only 30 years, we will see close to a three-foot rise in sea level, enough to require the San Francisco airport to be abandoned and inundated large portions of Napa Valley and to the east.
Our community is used to being buffered from large downswings in the economy, but the impacts of climate change will rock our boat and rob us of those financial resources we now take for granted. It is unavoidable that gas prices will rise. It is unavoidable that as snowpack water supplies dwindle further, electricity will become very costly.
Having a significant part of our school’s energy demands met by solar electric panels and our heating demands met with solar hot water will insulate us from these economic hardships. Having the capacity to collect and store large amounts of rainwater will buffer us from these inevitable shortages in the future, but only if the School Board has the foresight and courage to guide our community about the need to build these sustainable technologies into place before it is too late.
Given the short timeframe at hand, we would like to see the School Board act with foresight and act boldly to incorporate state-of-the-art climate adaptation measures into the school enlargement design plans.
Kim Kendall, Cecilia Finnigan, Marcia Mellinger, Susan Morrisson, Elizabeth Hardisty and George Wittman
Transition Initiative Mercer Island Steering Committee