In the wake of tragedy, we have a strong drive to rise up and find a way to come back even stronger from it. It’s in that spirit that 350 Sonoma is working in coalition with other local and regional climate groups to build a vision of a more sustainable and resilient community. 350 Sonoma spearheaded an effort to capture the main elements of rebuilding sustainable and resilient communities. This is just the first step in creating a common vision of the future of our community and world.

In recognizing the suffering of those who lost homes, we advocate strongly for solutions that do not add cost or complication to the process, and we call on our city and county governments and agencies, and other community leaders to join us in rebuilding for the future.

In summary, we promote zero net energy homes, the use of sustainable and fire-resistant building materials, wise resource management, and an intentional effort to create sustainable communities. Here is the document in full: 

After the Fires: Rebuilding for a Better Future

350 Sonoma recognizes the suffering of those who need to rebuild after the fire, and is calling for a comprehensive program to provide financial support to fire victims to incentivize sustainable, energy-efficient building practices, often exceeding current code requirements.

We advocate using methods and materials that reflect best practices in sustainable design in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve greater resilience to climate impacts, while lowering energy costs for the homeowner.

To accomplish these goals, we recommend that city and county governments and agencies offer financial incentives, expedited permitting, and design assistance to:

Promote zero net energy homes with solar-powered, sustainable, all-electric design elements such as electric heat pump-based water heating; and air heating and cooling; passive solar design; efficiency standards exceeding current code, as outlined in the draft 2019/2020 State of California Building Energy Efficiency Standards; and battery storage.

Promote use of sustainable and fire-resistant building materials such as metal or clay tile roofs, earthen or lime plaster, stucco, concrete, rammed earth, and fire-resistant, highly-insulated prefabricated wall panels that reduce waste and labor costs while accelerating construction.

Promote wise resource management to protect our watersheds and natural environment and to protect our communities from wildfires by building rainwater catchment and greywater systems; using permeable surfaces; and extending incentive programs for removing lawns to rebuilders who install low water-use landscaping. Support regenerative horticultural practices, such as replanting with natives and applying bioactive composts and inoculants that support soil health, retention of water, and increased carbon sequestration.

Promote sustainable communities by making housing more available and affordable by reducing fees and expediting permits for second units, and working with homeowner associations to encourage community open-space development of gardens, play areas, community solar projects, and recreation and meeting facilities. Community will be strengthened if everyone involved in rebuilding is invited to be part of the process.

In addition to our above recommendations, we are united with labor advocacy groups in supporting rebuilding efforts that are equitable, just, and result in a stronger local economy.  We advocate that rebuilding be done by responsible contractors with a satisfactory record of compliance with labor, health and safety, and environmental law; laborers be paid state prevailing wages for construction and have proper health and safety gear and training; and preference be given to hiring local residents.