|Earlier this month, Mountain View resident Steve Attinger began his new job working for the city of Mountain View. In fact, it was a new job for his employer too.
The position of environmental sustainability coordinator was created by the City Council last year when it adopted a serious program for sustainability that includes establishing a baseline for the city's emissions. Attinger's main role will be to coordinate a large citizen advisory group, which will make suggestions to the council on ways to reduce the city's carbon footprint.
"I'm very excited and looking forward to moving this process forward," Attinger told the Voice in a recent interview.
Before joining the city, Attinger specialized in training companies like Sun, Symantec and Applied Materials on how to reduce their carbon footprint, providing options for reducing emissions. Attinger's reward for the switch to municipal work -- which means a somewhat reduced salary -- will come from "ultimately being able to have a greater impact," he said.
Working with a large group of passionate citizen advisors may be his biggest challenge, but when it comes to working with people who have various opinions, Attinger said, "I try to meet people where they are, not where I want them to be."
After about four weeks on the job, he says he's already had plenty to do. He reports to policy manager Joan Jenkins.
One of his first jobs will be to finish an estimate of the city's emissions -- and not just from local vehicles and buildings. The carbon emissions estimate must account for the traffic that moves through the city on a daily basis, Attinger said.
Originally from Los Altos, Attinger attended Saint Francis High School. He says his "green blood" is partly from his environmentally conscious parents. He was one of the first people in the country to receive an MBA in sustainable management -- from the Presidio School of Management in San Francisco during the program's first run in 2005.
Attinger said he has worked in environmental sustainability since 2002, starting as a volunteer with Acterra, the Palo Alto-based environmental group.
Like many locals, Attinger lost his job after the dot-com bubble burst, leading him ultimately to a career in environmental sustainability. When he realized there was an actual financial incentive for companies and governments to become environmentally friendly, "that's when things really got exciting," he said.
When asked how the city should address its carbon emissions, Attinger said he was leaving it to the advisory group and the City Council to come up with the directions. Solutions could range from more efficient lights at City Hall to encouraging solar panels on residential homes.
But in a general sense, "What I'd like the city to do, they've already started to step up and do," he said, mentioning the advisory group, the solar panels on the Bryant Street garage and the hybrid vehicle fleet. However, he said, "There is always room for improvement," which is why some council members may push for his position to become permanent, even though its salary costs the city up to $91,000 a year.
Last Tuesday, the council's "appointments review committee" met to discuss 67 applications from residents interested in serving on the citizen advisory group. The committee decided on 15 people who will sit on a steering committee, which still has to be approved by the council, while the rest would be able to take part at the group's regular meetings. The names have yet to be released.
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