Bay Area Rings in Earth Day

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Earth Day activities at Emma Prusch Farm Park, April 21, 2011. Photo: Mat Luschek

    Bay Area residents are getting serious about the planet on Earth  Day this year by launching serious clean-energy and sustainability programs  in addition to holding kids' events and colorful festivals.

    Projects being unveiled Friday include electric vehicle charging  stations in San Rafael, a biodiesel facility in Oakland, and a rainwater  collection system in San Francisco.

    Organizers of all four projects hope to remind residents that  reducing greenhouse gas emissions needs to be a community-wide effort.

    Marin Clean Energy, a group that makes renewable energy available  to Pacific Gas & Electric customers, is opening its first two  electric-vehicle charging stations at 5 p.m. Friday.

    The stations, which will be at C and Third streets in San Rafael,  will be showcased alongside a range of electric vehicles. Initially, the  group will not charge for the stations' electricity beyond the cost of  parking in the garage to encourage electric vehicle use.

    Marin Clean Energy will soon open three more charging stations in  San Anselmo and Belvedere.

    An electric vehicle plugged into a station powered by a renewable  source such as solar or biomass can achieve close to 80 percent fewer  greenhouse gas emissions than a normal vehicle, according to the  organization.

    In Oakland, Sirona Fuels will begin selling biodiesel Friday  morning out of its Blue Sky Bio-Fuels production facility at 851 49th Ave.

    CEO Paul LaCourciere will also be hosting facility tours and  demonstrations of the biodiesel, which will be sold at an average of 25 cents  per gallon less than regular diesel.

    The fuel is made from used cooking oil and can be put in most  petroleum diesel engines without modifying the machinery, according to the  company.

    Sirona Fuels has been selling biodiesel to retailers for the last  two years and will now open its Blue Sky facility every Monday through Friday  from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

    Also on Friday, a city-funded rainwater collection program is  opening at a San Francisco elementary school.

    The 11 a.m. opening of the Chinatown Living Library & Think Park's  rainwater harvesting system, gardens, and mural will be accompanied by  demonstrations of the 11 cisterns and other rainwater conservation methods,  according to project representatives.

    The garden, located at Gordon Lau Elementary at 950 Clay St.,  includes native California and drought-resistant plants, and a tri-lingual  mural will explain the living library to speakers of English, Chinese and  Spanish.

    Board of Supervisors President David Chiu is scheduled to attend  Friday's event, which runs from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.