For Immediate Release, September 20, 2011
||Jonathan Evans, Center for Biological Diversity, (213) 598-1466
George Hague, Sierra Club-San Gorgonio Chapter, (951) 924-0816
Settlement Protects Habitat, Requires Green Building
RIVERSIDE, Calif.— Conservation groups reached a settlement on an industrial warehouse project in the city of Riverside that requires the development to set aside habitat for wildlife, ensure environmentally friendly building practices, and reduce air pollution. In return the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society and Friends of Riverside’s Hills agreed to dismiss their lawsuits against the city of Riverside challenging the Alessandro Business Center project.
“This agreement shows we can build greener and smarter to protect wildlife, fight climate change and improve air quality,” said Jonathan Evans of the Center for Biological Diversity. “The settlement raises the bar for future projects to require renewable energy and protect wildlife while supporting sustainable development.”
The agreement protects habitat for the federally endangered Stephens’ kangaroo rat, including protection of an important wildlife connection between the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park and March Stephens’ Kangaroo Rat Preserve. Land will be set aside as wildlife habitat and dedicated to the city of Riverside for expansion of the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park.
The settlement also requires environmentally responsible green-building practices. The project will install on-site solar energy and require the purchase of green power credits. The buildings will be gold-certified in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), demonstrating standards for energy efficiency and reduced greenhouse gas pollution. It also requires improvements in the project design and practices to reduce the impacts of smog and soot on local air pollution.
“This developer has demonstrated that gold-certified Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) warehouses/distribution centers can and must now become the standard implemented by decision-makers as well as developers throughout the Inland Empire for the health of residents and the environment,” said George Hague, conservation chair of the Moreno Valley Group of the Sierra Club.
The settlement follows a series of legal challenges to industrial warehouse proposals on western Riverside’s few remaining natural places for endangered wildlife. Conservation groups charged the projects violated the California Environmental Quality Act and the federal habitat conservation plan for the Stephens’ kangaroo rat, which was originally proposed to strike a balance between protection and development.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 320,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
The Sierra Club is a nonprofit conservation organization of over 725,000 members dedicated to exploring, enjoying, and protecting the wild places of the earth.