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Renew America Success Stories
The Sustainable City Project
Environmental Services Program Manager
Energy and Green Building Sustainability and Compliance Division
City of San Jose-Environmental Services Department
tel: (408) 975-2581
fax: (408) 292-6213
The Sustainable City Project of the Urban Consortium Energy Task Force develops urban planning processes that identify, rank and implement energy policies and program options for promoting urban sustainability. Over the course of the two-year project, the city of San Jose (California) and two other cities used a common planning process to determine the needs, actions, costs and resources necessary to integrate long-term energy planning into the local policy-making framework.
Through its participation in the project, San Jose designed and implemented an energy management program that sets a target to reduce energy use by 10% across all sectors by the year 2000. These reductions are to be achieved through the incorporation of energy-efficient technologies (including solar design features) in new construction and through the installation of high-efficiency lighting in existing fixtures. In addition, San Jose has expanded its programs in waste management and recycling, water conservation and pollution prevention.
Even before its participation in the Sustainable City Project began in 1990, San Jose leaders had outlined critical public policy issues in natural resource management in a report to the City Council entitled "Toward a Sustainable City." The report identified three guiding principles of sustainability: that maintaining a healthy natural resource base was critical to maintaining the health of the city's economy, that the maintenance of a healthy environment would require the imposition of limits on human development and that the earth, air, water and living biosphere are the collective heritage of humanity and should be protected.
These principles have served to inform the efforts of the City of San Jose in its participation in the Sustainable City Project, and in its policy analysis regarding municipal energy systems, land use patterns, transportation and water and waste systems.
Integrated Waste Management
- The "Recycle Plus!" program provides curbside pickup for twelve types of recyclables. A volume-based fee scale for garbage collection has been imposed. Multi-family units and mobile home parks now participate in the program.
- Through the city's "Close the Loop" program, the city purchases 30 different types of recycled products, provides incentives to encourage the establishment of businesses that use recycled products in their processes, and manages a grant program to conduct applied research on technical and business barriers to the use of recyclables.
- San Jose's Energy Management Program documented and assessed then-current and projected energy use trends and energy conservation potentials across all economic sectors. This research formed the basis of the City Council's decision to adopt a long-term energy policy in 1989, the Sustainable City Energy Strategy, that sets the target of a 10% energy use reduction across all sectors by the year 2000. Some components of the energy strategy include:
- IDEAS (Innovative Design and Energy Analysis Service). The IDEAS publication provides a comprehensive index to energy conservation design measures for use by developers.
- Participation in Pacific Gas & Electric's PowerSaving Partners Program. This energy efficiency program is designed to save the City of San Jose $989,000 over nine years based on an initial investment of $345,000 in energy efficiency measures.
- Solar Design Guidelines. The city has prepared residential guidelines regarding the proper orientation of residential buildings to maximize solar exposure.
- San Jose began replacing its 48,000 incandescent and mercury vapor streetlights with more efficient low- and high-pressure sodium lights in 1981. The conversion was completed in 1984, and the city has saved $1.5 million and 270 billion Btu's (British thermal units) annually since.
- Building materials containing ozone-depleting agents have been banned.
- Providers of air conditioning service are required to recycle the refrigerant.
- To protect the San Francisco Bay's saltwater habitat and ensure a reliable supplemental water supply, San Jose will develop a NonPotable Reclamation and Reuse Facility to provide water for turf and landscape areas at colleges, schools, parks, cemeteries, medians, golf courses and irrigation of crops. Additional potential uses include street sweeping, fire fighting, vehicle washing and in decorative fountains.
- The City Council adopted a goal of reducing wastewater flows by 12 million gallons per day. This goal will be accomplished by:
- Installing ultra-low-flow toilets (ULFT) in new construction. ULFT's use 1 - 2 gallons of water per flush compared to the 4 - 7 gallons per flush used by older toilets.
- Financial incentives have been provided to local businesses to install low-flow fixtures at their sites.
- Vital Statistics
Program Management/Partnerships: The Sustainable City Project is a project of the Urban Consortium Energy Task Force. San Jose joins Portand, Oregon and San Francisco,California in participating in the project.
Budget: The latest figures are available by contacting the program.
Community Served: The 822,000 residents of San Jose. The San Jose population is expected to grow to more than 1 million by the year 2010.
Measures of Success:
- Due to energy conservation investments, San Jose saves $7 million annually on its energy bill.
- Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions have been reduced by 50,000 tons per year.
- Recycling has tripled in area households from 6.7 to 16.7 pounds per week.
- Garbage sent to landfills has been reduced by 45%.
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