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Santa Monica Makes It Pay Off to Be Green

By Lookout Staff

September 28 -- Being green in Santa Monica just got a bit easier for both businesses and builders.

Local businesses will now have the chance to cash in on $150 rebates to install water-free urinals in their restrooms, while sustainable builders will be placed on a fast track for permits and receive financial incentives from the City, Santa Monica officials announced this week.

After a successful test run of the water-free urinals at the busy Third Street Promenade bar and restaurant, Yankee Doodles -- where city officials boast a 74 percent decrease in water consumption in the first year -- City officials decided to expand the pilot program.

“Our mission is to improve water efficiency throughout the city, but this fixture takes us down to zero water use,” said Water Resources Specialist Kim O’Cain. “This gives our local commercial and institutional properties another option to help them save water, time and money -- big time.”

Since their introduction to green building in 1991, the new urinals have been found to save as much as 40,000 gallons of water each year, officials said.

And the cost savings don’t stop with the water saved. Maintenance of the urinals is simple, requiring the periodic change of an insert that acts as a one-way barrier to the sewer, thus cutting down on expensive plumbing repairs, according to a recent UCLA study cited by the City.

Builders, too, can cut their costs -- and the time they wait in lengthy plan-check lines -- by providing proof that their projects are certificated under the LEED® Green Building Rating System™, a nationally recognized certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Priority plan check has the potential to shave weeks from the approval process, while buildings eligible for the fast-track permit process can receive grants of $20,000 to $35,000, depending on the level of certification.

The move, said officials, came after calls from the community and developers to make it easier for private builders to build green.

“While there have been a number of green buildings built in the city,” said Green Building Advisor Greg Reitz, “we have seen little activity in the for-profit development community. We expect that to change as we make it easier for developers to make the commitment.”

Fully 93 percent of Santa Monicans who participated in a recent survey said they believed buildings should be healthier and more efficient, City officials said.

For more information about the City of Santa Monica’s Green Building Program, visit its Web page or call (310) 458-8549.

Rebates of up to $150 for each water–free urinal installed are available for a limited time through a region-wide conservation program for businesses. For more information, call SAVE A BUCK at 1-877-728-2282 or visit www.smepd.org.

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