October 7, 2008

San Jose’s Green Vision

Today marks the one-year anniversary of Mayor Chuck Reed's announcement of San Jose's Green Vision, an ambitious 10-point plan to invigorate the economy and improve the environment over a 15-year period. Mayor Reed and local leaders will meet with the press at 1 p.m. to discuss the progress made in turning vision into reality.

"The people of San Jose and Silicon Valley have changed the world. With our history of innovation and environmental stewardship as a foundation, San Jose is on track to become the world's center of innovation in clean, green technologies," said Mayor Reed. "We are making great strides in implementing our goals for innovation, sustainability, and green mobility. These goals are bold and comprehensive. Some said we were overly ambitious. We're making progress, and in 2022, we'll look back and be thankful at the work that's been to create a better future for our children, our residents, and the world."

The City Council meets at 1:30 p.m. with four key items on the agenda pertaining to Green Vision goals:

   1.  Approval of a Memorandum of Understanding with Tesla Motors,       manufacturer of America's only zero-emission electric vehicle, to       locate its headquarters and manufacturing facility in San Jose,       bringing 1,000 clean tech manufacturing, research and development       jobs to the City.   2.  Adoption of a "Cities Keep it Clean" Resolution to work cooperatively       with Save the Bay and other organizations to improve water quality in       creeks, rivers, and the San Francisco Bay.   3.  Adoption of a comprehensive policy that will ensure that new       development in the city is built green.   4.  Adoption of a regional Bay Area Climate Compact, which will allow       Mayor Reed to sign the agreement with the Cities of Oakland,       San Francisco, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, and other       regional non-profits. 

"With a focus on creating Clean Tech jobs, we will help solve the climate crisis while creating a new economic base for our region," Mayor Reed said. "San Jose will show the world that environmental responsibility makes financial sense. Not only will we help our innovators create new businesses and new jobs, we will use these technologies to reduce the City's own operating and maintenance costs."

San Jose's Green Vision outlines 10 far-reaching goals that address energy consumption, water use, greenhouse gas emissions, and other environmental impacts. The Green Vision goals and progress over the past year include:

1. Create 25,000 Clean Tech jobs as the World Center of Clean Tech Innovation.

In October 2007, City of San Jose's Office of Economic Development estimated that there were 1,500 Clean Tech jobs located in San Jose. Today, that number totals more than 3,000. Tesla Motors will create another 1,000 jobs, about half of which will be manufacturing jobs.

Leading clean tech companies such as Phillips Lumileds, Echelon, SunPower, Stion, Solopower, Sopogy, BioFuelBox, Borgata Recycling, Solexant, SunWize, and Fat Spaniel continue to grow. Nanosolar is manufacturing thin-film solar cells in Edenvale.

In 2008, new developments included: Underwriters Laboratory's solar testing/certification facility in North San Jose, SVTC's solar development center/foundry in Edenvale, and SolarTech's Center of Excellence.

San Jose's Environmental Business Cluster was recognized as the Business Incubation Association's 2008 Randall M. Whaley Incubator of the Year Award. The EBC has helped more clean tech start-up companies commercialize their products than any other environmental incubator in the nation.

2. Reduce per capita energy use by 50 percent

At the time San Jose's Green Vision launched, the City had been engaged in municipal energy reduction for quite some time. From 2001 to 2007, the City reduced greenhouse gas emissions from City facilities by 20.1 percent, or 124,144 metric tons of CO2 emissions. This is the equivalent of taking 26,871 passenger cars off the road for one year.

The City continues to invest in energy efficiency, including $275,000 for improvements at City Hall and in City facilities in the 2008-'09 budget. Additionally, three fire stations, five community centers, and two libraries will undergo energy efficiency improvements, installation of solar electric systems, and other green building measures through $500,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds.

3. Receive 100 percent of our electrical power from clean renewable sources.

In October 2007, PG& E estimated that 13 percent of the electricity consumed in San Jose came from clean renewable sources.

In the past year, we've seen significant investments in solar throughout San Jose, including:

 --  Macy's -- 307 kW --  eBay -- 650 kW --  San Jose Unified School District -- 5 MW on many facilities throughout     San Jose --  Star Quality Concrete facility -- 410 kW --  Target Store -- 380 kW      

San Jose was named as Solar America City by the Department of Energy, providing a $200,000 grant that will allow the City to deploy solar technology on its own buildings.

4. Build or retrofit 50 million square feet of green buildings

In October 2007, San Jose had about 1 million square feet of buildings that had achieved certification under the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

Since then, an additional quarter of a million square feet have been certified, including

 --  The City of San Jose's Central Service Yard project achieved LEED     Silver. --  First Community Housing's Gish Apartments project achieved LEED Gold. --  eBay's new office tower in North San Jose certified LEED silver.      

Additionally, more than 11 million square feet of green buildings in San Jose are under construction and/or awaiting certification from either the U.S. Green Building Council or Build It Green.

The City Council will consider adopting a Green Building Policy for Private Development on October 7, 2008.

5. Divert 100 percent of the waste from our landfill and convert waste to energy.

In October 2007, San Jose was recycling 62 percent of our garbage citywide, and did not have a process of turning the remaining waste into energy.

Today, recent improvements to recycling at apartments and condominiums have resulted in the highest performing program in the United States and created more than 50 new jobs in San Jose. In addition, in 2008 the City implemented new waste reduction efforts at all City facilities and operations, including the Airport, Convention Center, City Hall, libraries, all City parks, and special events like the Comcast Jazz festival.

As a result, San Jose is exceeding 75 percent of waste diverted from the landfill, far higher than any municipal program in California. The Environmental Services Department is also evaluating several potential waste-to-energy technologies including creating methane from organic and food waste, deriving fuels from sewage sludge, and gasification.

6. Recycle or beneficially reuse 100 percent of our wastewater (100 million gallons per day)

Since adoption of the Green Vision, recycled water average daily use has increased by 7.8 percent, from 10.2 million gallons per day (mgd) in 2006-'07 to 11 mgd for the fiscal year ending in June 30, 2008. The new terminal at the Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport will use 1 mgd in recycled water.

7. Adopt a General Plan with measurable standards for sustainable development.

The General Plan Task Force is currently meeting and a new plan is in progress.

8. Ensure that 100 percent of public fleet vehicles run on alternative fuels.

In October 2007, San Jose's fleet consisted of 2,700 vehicles and equipment, 972 of which operate on alternative fuels. The City transitioned from Biodiesel B10 to cleaner B20 in March 2008 and is now exploring a partnership with various auto manufacturers on an all-electric vehicle demonstration project.

9. Plant 100,000 new trees and replace 100 percent of our streetlights with smart, energy neutral lighting.

Since its conception in 1994, Our City Forest (the largest group working in San Jose on this issue) has planted over 40,000 trees. Since the Green Vision was adopted Our City Forest has planted 2,023 additional trees.

The City has 61,000 streetlights generating an annual electric bill of $3.5 million. City staff is testing new LED lighting technology, which will be more energy efficient and long-lasting than traditional sodium vapor lighting as part of San Jose's Green Mobility Showcase on East Santa Clara Street. The demonstration project will test variety of new technologies to make City streets greener, including "smart" plug-in electric vehicle charging station attached to streetlights.

10. Create 100 miles of interconnected trails.

In October 2007, San Jose had 40 miles of trails, many of which were not interconnected.

Today, that number is 50.78 miles. Major accomplishments over the past year have included the opening of 6.4 miles of unpaved maintenance levees along the Lower Guadalupe River and construction of trail under-crossings at Highway 101 and Airport Parkway.

To read San Jose's Green Vision, visit www.sanjoseca.gov/greenvision/.

 Contact:  Michelle McGurk, PIO Office of Mayor Chuck Reed (408) 535-4840 or (408) 655-7332 cell  

SOURCE: City of San Jose, California