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Bay Area Marks Earth Day With Conservation Efforts

OAKLAND (CBS SF) - Bay Area residents paid tribute to 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 unveiled Friday included 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, planned to open 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 began selling biodiesel Friday morning out of its Blue Sky Bio-Fuels production facility at 851 49th Ave.

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

KCBS' Margie Shafer Reports:

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 was opening at a San Francisco elementary school.

The opening of the Chinatown Living Library & Think Park's rainwater harvesting system, gardens, and mural was 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.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

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