By: Erika Pringsheim-Moore, Sustainable Lafayette
As Lamorinda residents know, there are many reasons to Love Lafayette, with its picturesque hills, favorable weather, top-notch schools and thriving downtown. Here are 10 more reasons to appreciate our city from an ecological perspective:
Our Mediterranean climate offers perfect growing conditions for drought-tolerant plants such as rosemary, lavender and California poppies – not to mention a great climate for growing fruits and vegetables year-round. In my winter garden there are towering fava beans, Swiss chard, kale, broccoli, Meyer lemons, lettuces and peas. With our numerous stores and restaurants offering organic and sustainable food, we have many possibilities for enjoying healthy food all year.
- Solar Energy
Lafayette has an average of 262 sunny days annually, compared to a national average of 205, making it an ideal community in which to take advantage of solar power. In fact, all of the Lafayette School District’s public schools have installed solar panels, which produce more than 438 thousand watts of electricity (enough to power almost 30,000 compact fluorescent bulbs).
- Lafayette Reservoir
Our beautiful Lafayette Reservoir, a 550-acre undisturbed oak woodland located just a half mile from downtown, stores drinking water for EBMUD customers and offers hiking, biking, jogging, fishing, boating, picnicking, a children’s playground and live concerts. It is a destination for healthy outdoor recreation of all kinds. We are lucky to have water directly from Sierra Nevada snow melt, collected from the 577-square mile watershed of the Mokelumne River.
- Urban Farming
Lafayette is home to The Urban Farmers, a nonprofit organization which harvests backyard fruit for donation to food banks and other community organizations. They are now planting “giving orchards” for the sole purpose of donating fruit to those who need access to fresh, healthy, local food. If you have a backyard orchard with unused fruit, check them out.
- Bike Friendly
Lafayette is bike-friendly. Signs are posted throughout the city, providing cyclists with directions and distance to local destinations, like the Lafayette Library and Learning Center. The signs also designate preferred routes throughout Lafayette, so that cyclists can avoid high traffic areas on Mt. Diablo Blvd. The road improvements being made downtown include installation of additional bike racks and high visibility crosswalks.
- Community Garden
Lafayette’s new Community Garden and Outdoor Learning Center, located at 3932 Mt. Diablo Blvd., across the street from the Lafayette Reservoir, offers a beautiful setting for members to grow organic food, hold educational classes and events, and provide a wealth of resources for local gardeners.
- Lafayette Library
The Lafayette Library and Learning Center is one of the greenest buildings in Lamorinda, with many LEED features, such as water-efficient landscaping, occupancy-sensors for lighting controls, use of large windows and skylights for natural light, and close proximity to public transportation. The Library also hosts many workshops and lectures on environmental topics.
- Parks & Trails
Lafayette has over 40-miles of dedicated trails and more than 90-acres of public parklands ranging from wilderness and nature areas, to sports fields, playgrounds and the downtown plaza. Hike 3 miles of trails in the Lafayette Community Park, and about 6-miles of City trails which connect to other hiking areas such as the Lafayette Reservoir, Lafayette Ridge and Briones Regional Park.
- Food Scrap Recycling Program
The majority of Lafayette’s restaurants and all of its schools participate in the Food Scrap Recycling Program, in partnership with Central Contra Costa Solid Waste Authority and Allied Waste. Collected food scraps are turned into clean, renewable energy in bio-digesters located at EBMUD's water treatment facility in Oakland.
- Green Businesses
Lafayette’s Chamber of Commerce is actively contributing to a sustainable community by helping local businesses adopt green practices, like recycling. There are now over 40 local businesses that have been recognized as “Lafayette Green.” And the Chamber set a county record by recycling 89% of its waste at the Lafayette Art & Wine Festival.
Founded by Steve Richard and Bart Carr in 2007, Sustainable Lafayette is working to transform our city into a highly sustainable community while enhancing the quality of life for current and future residents.