Like many, Sarah and Bruce King watched in horror as the wildfires burned through the North Bay in October, leaving them to wonder how they might aid the recovery when the smoke cleared.
The San Rafael couple have backgrounds in sustainable construction through a two-decade-old nonprofit called Ecological Building Network, or EBNet. So they were uniquely positioned to make an immediate impact. In late October, along with green building consultant Ann Edminster of Pacifica and Sustainable North Bay executive director Oren Wool of Graton, the Kings hosted a small dinner at their home in late October and got to work.
The group formed a new organization, Rebuild Green Coalition, and decided to hold a one-day workshop in December, inviting others with expertise to the table. The idea was to brainstorm ideas for how Sonoma County and other affected areas could tap new technologies and modern home designs that reduce carbon footprint to help communities recover with greater post-fire resiliency.
“It’s one thing to build green, it’s another for how to actually do it,” said Sarah King. “With the wildland-urban interface, which is big up toward the hills, how do we make that more resistant? That’s the name of the game in a lot of areas, especially where the fires took place, and what happened here is equally applicable for Southern California.”
To advance its cause, the new coalition is hosting the Rebuild Green Expo in Santa Rosa next Friday. The hope is to educate those who plan to rebuild on updated techniques and elements to consider before shovels ever hit the ground and foundations are rebuilt.
“There will be information about incentive programs, which were developed specifically for local residents, for above-code performance,” said Edminster. “So there’s a real carrot being put out there for those interested in energy-efficient homes and reaching toward carbon neutrality, and real opportunities there for all-electric homes.”
Demonstrations at the free event, held at Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., will include the perks of induction cooking with longtime local chef Thaddeus Palmese, a show of electric vehicles, as well as a modular home to tour. More than 60 vendor booths will offer guidance on everything from drought-tolerant native plants and building to incorporate defensible space for fire protection to systems for rainwater collection and wastewater irrigation.
“We want to keep providing the kind of support we can for the ongoing recovery efforts,” said Sarah King. “Certainly the Rebuild Green Coalition is in it for the long haul and is going to stay active, and if we pull together the money to do it, providing a lot more resources for people to use.”
For the full Rebuild Green Expo program schedule on Feb. 23, visit: rebuildgreenexpo.com.