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Climate Change
Climate change refers to long-term changes in temperature, precipitation, wind patterns, and other elements of the Earth's climate system.

The City of San José has adopted a Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Reduction Strategy in conjunction with the recently adopted the Envision San José 2040 General Plan Update consistent with the implementation requirements of Assembly Bill 32 (AB32) – the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. AB32 requires the State of California as a whole to reduce GHG emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020. The Strategy was adopted by the City Council as an appendix to the Envision Plan on November 1, 2011. The purposes of the GHG Reduction Strategy are to:

  1. Capture and consolidate GHG reduction efforts already underway by the City of San José 
  2. Distill policy direction on GHG reduction from the Envision San José 2040 General Plan Update 
  3. Quantify GHG reductions that should result from land use changes incorporated in the Envision General Plan Land Use diagram 
  4. Create a framework for the ongoing monitoring and revision of this GHG Reduction Strategy
  5. Achieve General Plan-level environmental clearance for future development activities (through the year 2020) occurring within the City of San José 

This GHG Reduction Strategy was prepared in accordance with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Guidelines, and in conformance with CEQA Guidelines Section 15183.5, which specifically addresses GHG Reduction Plans.

Key elements of urban planning that reduce GHG emissions more directly are building mixed-use housing or “villages” that minimize car travel; building site location that optimizes solar installation potential either for heating water or for electricity generation; planting trees to help mitigate heat island effects; and providing access to safe, pedestrian friendly sidewalks, trails and bike paths, as well as mass transit. GHG emissions are measured by the Green Vision goals and are not duplicated here.

To learn more about how each individual Green Vision goal relates to Climate Change see below:
How Clean Tech Jobs are related to Climate Change:
California has led the country in adopting a forward thinking clean energy framework from Title 24, to decoupling of energy profits, the recent adoption of the low carbon fuel standard by the California Air Resources Board, and AB32 - our state has been at the forefront of energy policy in the United States. What is clear, however, is that technological advances, accelerated commercialization and ultimate adoption of clean technologies will be paramount if we are to achieve the substantial green house gas emissions reduction targets necessary to stem the tide of climate change.

San José's Green Vision recognizes the dual purpose and promise of clean technology – an opportunity for the region to drive economic development and job creation, while supporting a critical path to carbon avoidance into the future. From compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) to electric vehicles (EV), from smart grid technologies and building efficiency technologies to next generation photovoltaics (PV), biofuels, advanced lighting technologies and construction materials, companies are fast at work across Silicon Valley incubating, demonstrating, and conducting early stage manufacturing and creating go-to-market strategies for the next generation of clean goods.

Investors, entrepreneurs, business leaders and policy makers alike recognize the opportunity in clean technology. Security and prosperity associated with energy independence and a stable climate are at the heart of clean technology investment. Acceleration of this process will predictably require ongoing policy engagement, capital investment, fair and stable rules of the road and collaboration and coordination across multiple disciplines.

Clean Tech Jobs - Microchip
Goal 1 : Create 25,000 Clean Tech Jobs as the World Center of Clean Innovation

How Reduced Energy Use is related to Climate Change:
San José is focusing on reducing energy use through conservation efforts as well as supply-side strategies that lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with electricity generation overall. Energy efficiency will be California’s most effective tool for achieving GHG reductions in key industries as well as local governments like San José, which have also made strong commitments to renewable energy.

The 2014 energy metrics will be reflected in the 2015 annual report as PG&E’s energy data is not available until mid-2015. In 2013, citywide PG&E electricity and natural gas usage (after converting to kWh equivalents) for municipal accounts was 358,691,464 kWh. This equates to approximately 22,469,567 metric tons (MT) of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) equivalents emitted. The amount of CO2 equivalents emitted is dependent on PG&E’s annual fuel mix as well as total energy usage in San José.

Reduced Energy Use
Goal 2: Reduce Per Capita Energy Use by 50%

How Renewable Energy is related to Climate Change: 
Currently the state requires energy providers, including PG&E, to increase the mix of renewable energy in their energy portfolios to 33 percent by the year 2020. Since San José receives the bulk of its energy (both electricity and natural gas) from PG&E, the overall renewable power supply will be dependent on PG&E’s generation sources.

In 2013, 22 percent of PG&E’s electric supply came from eligible renewable resources. Eligible renewable resources do not include nuclear energy or large-scale hydroelectric power. The 2014 verified PG&E data is not available until mid-2015; therefore, 2014 GHG emissions will be calculated and reported at that time. San José’s total community-wide electricity use in 2013 was 6,077,146,285 kWh, which created 1,177,045 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent emissions. As mentioned, the CO2 equivalents depend on the annual fuel generation mixture used to produce PG&E-supplied electricity. PG&E’s fuel mixture can change from year to year, depending on many different variables. For example, in a drought, hydroelectric resources are significantly constrained and therefore a utility must employ another fuel source to overcome the deficit. 

Renewable Energy - Airport Solar
Goal 3: Receive 100% of Our Electrical Power from Clean, Renewable Sources

How Green Buildings are related to Climate Change:
The City’s building code requires new buildings to achieve certification using either the Build It Green or USGBC’s rating systems, which strive to optimize building energy performance. While retrofitting existing municipal buildings will reduce some greenhouse gas emissions, planning new green building sites to improve surrounding areas will also have a positive impact. Improvements include encouraging the public to take fewer single-vehicle trips, and helping to reduce other emissions that impact public health, such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, organic gases, sulfur oxides, and particulate matter. The positive impact green buildings can have on climate change is thus closely tied to Green Vision Goal 7 – Adopt a General Plan with Measurable Standards for Sustainable Development. 

Green Buildings - Roosevelt Community Center
Goal 4: Build or Retrofit 50 Million Square Feet of Green Buildings

How Zero Waste is related to Climate Change: 
San José is a national leader in diverting waste from landfills and implementing cutting-edge waste-to-energy technology. A majority of GHG emissions related to waste disposal comes from methane produced as a byproduct of organic decay at landfills and the transport of waste to landfills. San José’s redesigned commercial waste program provides recycling to all commercial facilities, thereby diverting more waste from the landfill. The City’s contracted haulers transitioned from diesel trucks to cleaner burning compressed natural gas (CNG) trucks, reducing transportation emissions. The Recycle Plus program haulers have completed CNG conversion of their collection fleets, and Republic Services has an all CNG fleet for commercial collection. When combined with routing efficiencies gained by having one commercial service provider (as opposed to more than 20), the GHG emissions from trucks serving the City have significantly decreased. Additionally, an estimated 509,500 tons of waste were trucked to a managed landfill, resulting in the capture of approximately 11,202 metric tons (MT) of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalents (using the California Air Resource’s Control Board’s Landfill Emission Tool).

Zero Waste - Residential Waste
Goal 5: Divert 100% of waste from Landfill and Convert Waste to Energy

How Recycled Water is related to Climate Change:
Water supplies are uncertain and subject to wide variability from year-to-year.  Climate change is resulting in a decreased water supplies in the South Bay area and water conservation, along with recycled water helps mitigate the global warming impacts through more efficient use of resources including the energy used to convey water throughout San Jose and the state. To ensure a reliable supply of high-quality water the Santa Clara Valley Water District partnered with the City of San Jose and the San José-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility to build the Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center, an advanced water treatment facility able to provide up to 8-10 million gallons per day of highly purified recycled water.  The advanced treated water is blended with existing recycled water to provide a higher water quality that can be used for many purposes replacing the need to use potable water or in the future, with further treatment this water could potentially become potable water.  For more information about the water and energy nexus, please visit the Santa Clara Valley Water District website.

Recycled Water - Signage
Goal 6: Recycle or Beneficially Reuse 100% of our Wastewater

How Sustainable Development is related to Climate Change:
The GHG Reduction Strategy, which supports and is incorporated within the General Plan, demonstrates how San José plans to reduce GHG emissions, through a more compact urban form and greater use of walking, mass transit or bicycling as a means of travel between home, work, school, shopping and other services along with the implementation of other environmentally beneficial policies. The latter includes policy measures consistent with other Green Vision goals, such as policies that promote lower energy use, green building practices, and reduction in waste. As described in the California Air Pollution Controls Officers Association (CAPCOA) resource document, Quantifying Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Measures, a city’s general plan with efficient location of urban land uses relative to transit is its single greatest tool to reduce GHG emission levels related climate change.

While GHG emission levels can be very difficult to measure directly, at least in the short term, achievement of many Green Vision goals and related Envision General Plan policies are expected to have a positive effect in decreasing emission levels over time due to modified travel and energy use patterns. Specific measures will help the City monitor its performance on the implementation of the Envision San José 2040 General Plan, such as the amount of new green building construction, transit ridership, miles of new trails and bike lanes, Urban Village Plans prepared, and proportion of new homes and businesses approved and constructed within the identified Growth Areas and their proximity to public transit.

Goal 7 - Sustainable General Plan - Santana Row
Goal 7: Adopt a General Plan with Measurable Standards for Sustainable Development

How Clean Fleet Vehicles are related to Climate Change:
San José continues to successfully right-size the fleet by eliminating older vehicles and down-sizing the size or type along with choosing the alternative fuel version whenever possible and practicable. This approach achieves the maximum GHG emission reductions without impairing City services. In 2014, the City’s vehicle fleet emitted approximately 14,800 metric tons of CO2 equivalents, which is 36 percent below the baseline emissions established in 2003.

Clean Fleet Vehicles - B20 Fire Engine
Goal 8: Ensure that 100 Percent of public Fleet Vehicles Run on Alternative Fuels

How Trees and Streetlights are related to Climate Change: 
Trees provide multiple benefits with regard to GHG emissions. Trees remove carbon dioxide from the air, provide shade that helps mitigate heat, and reduce energy needed to cool the air. In 2014, 1,749 net trees were planted in San José which then sequestered approximately 68.2 metric tons (MT) of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalents, using the Environmental Protection Agency’s formula for trees, assuming these trees survive for 10 years. A total of 12,289 trees have been planted since 2007, sequestering approximately 479.3 MT of CO2 equivalents, which are equivalent to annual GHG emitted from 101 passenger vehicles.    

As of December 31, 2014, the City had converted a total of 5,530 of its streetlights to smart LED lights. By switching to a more energy-efficient light and modulating its lighting levels in relation to changing activity levels, San José will save 1,885,000 kWh annually, averting approximately 1,300 MT of CO2 equivalents. That is equivalent to the volume of greenhouse gases emitted annually by 274 passenger vehicles.

Trees and Streetlights
Goal 9: Plant 100,000 New Trees and Replace 100% of Streetlights with Smart, Zero Emission Lighting

How Interconnected Trails are related to Climate Change: 
San José continues to develop trails and bikeways to make biking or walking more viable and appealing means of travel as part of the overall set of travel options. By developing and improving the trails and bikeways in San José, the City hopes to reduce the amount of GHG emissions produced from the transportation sector--one of the largest and most difficult sectors to address. In the Bike Plan 2020, a goal of a 5 percent bike mode share was developed for the year 2020. In lieu of annual surveys, the City and partners at San José State University created a methodology to estimate change in annual bike ridership from the 2007 baseline year.
 Interconnected Trails - Guadalupe River Trail
Goal 10: Create 100 Miles of Trails connecting with 400 miles of on-street bikeways