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Earth Day Report Shows Steady Progress

Earth Day Report Shows Steady Progress

The City’s latest Earth Day report shows that in 2017 Palo Alto reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions an estimated 43 percent from the baseline year of 1990 levels – and six percent more than the previous year, largely as a result of the City’s commitment to carbon neutral electricity and natural gas.  Last July, the City started providing 100 percent carbon neutral natural gas – making the City of Palo Alto Utilities the first utility in the world to provide both carbon neutral electricity and natural gas to all its customers

In addition, in December the City Council adopted near term actions as part of the Sustainability Implementation Plan (SIP) that identifies key actions for 2018-2020. If implemented, measures included in the SIP could bring GHG emissions down to about 40 percent (from 1990 levels) and potentially to 54 percent if natural gas offsets are included. The largest source of remaining GHG emissions come from road transportation (approximately 72 percent) and natural gas use (approximately 21 percent). In 2016, the Council set a GHG reduction target of 80 percent by 2030.

Highlights of progress in 2017 include:

  • Adoption of the 2018-2020 Sustainability Implementation Plan
  • Implemented two green building ordinances
  • Began a one-year pilot of the Bay Area’s first all-electric refuse collection truck
  • Produced 223 million gallons of recycled water at the Regional Water Quality Control plant
  • Continued to reduce the amount of material going into landfills, with a waste diversion rate of 82 percent.

Specifics from the Earth Day report include:

  • City operations:  Decreased overall by 2 percent beyond 2016 reductions. 
  • Combined City municipal operations and community emissions continued to decline, dropping 6 percent from 2016, due mostly to reductions in natural gas emissions from carbon offset purchases
  • GHG emissions from City of Palo Alto Utilities: Currently 1.8 percent of the City’s electricity energy needs are met by local solar. The City’s Renewable Portfolio Standard has increased from 26 percent in 2015 to 59 percent in 2017. 
  • Water consumption returned to post-drought levels, but has still declined overall by 32 percent over the past decade.

 Highlights from City Departments include: 

  • Utilities: Continues to implement cost-effective energy efficiency and water conservation programs. Carbon neutral natural gas, renewable portfolio standards, solar group buy and EV ownership all part of program.
  • Community Services reduced potable water use by 25 percent, and CSD staff planted more than 7,800 native plants.
  • Development Services implemented two sustainability ordinances related to green buildings, resulting in 38,247 metric ton reductions of CO2 emissions.
  • Achieved a 29.1 percent GHG emissions reduction since 2005 in the City’s vehicle fleet.

Finally, Palo Alto was recognized by a number of organizations for its sustainability and climate action leadership with awards including:

  • Platinum Level Beacon Award by the Institute for Local Government (first Platinum level ever awarded to a city)
  • First place for watts-per-customer installed, recognized by the Smart Electric Power Alliance, and
  • Green California Summit Leadership Award for Sustainable Communities by Green California

 To read the entire Earth Day report, click here.

Last Updated: April 12, 2018