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San José Mayor Unveils “Green Vision” 15-Year Roadmap

San José, California Mayor Chuck Reed on Friday released a 15-year roadmap—Green Vision—to address environmental problems while growing the local economy. San José is the US’s tenth-largest city, and the third-largest in California. Green Vision is organized around three elements: Clean Tech Innovation, Sustainability, and Green Mobility.

The plan outlines 10 goals that address energy consumption, water use, greenhouse gas emissions, and other environmental impacts. The goals are:

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

  2. Reduce per capita energy use by 50 percent.

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

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

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

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

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

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

  9. Plant 100,000 new trees and replace 100 percent of our streetlights with smart, zero-emission lighting.

  10. Create 100 miles of interconnected trails.

The problems are significant. We rely on an uncertain supply of imported water from the Delta. We depend on fossil fuel—much of which comes from unstable regions around the globe—to run our cars, heat and cool our homes and offices, and operate our information society.

Many of us have begun to make changes in our daily lives to address these problems. We recycle more of our household waste than any other large city in the nation. We recycle and reuse 11 million gallons of wastewater each day. We are investing in green buildings. We are a leader in driving hybrid cars.

But we can and must do more. By using our local ingenuity, entrepreneurship, and creative talent, we can create solutions that change the course of global events. What better place than San José, the Capital of Silicon Valley, to create and test the technology that will harness the sun and wind, turn sewage into fuel, and turn garbage into energy.

—Mayor Reed

Green Mobility. More than 40% of the greenhouse gas emissions in Santa Clara county (the location of San José) comes from transportation. San José is also growing rapidly; over the next 30 years, the population growth in the city is projected to be greater than the growth in San Francisco, Oakland, and Fremont combined.

We must prepare for this population growth to prevent gridlock and pollution. To develop a system of Green Mobility, we must reduce reliance on single-occupant vehicles and ensure that alternative transportation is efficient, convenient, and environmentally sustainable.

—San José Green Vision

The primary elements of the Green Mobility plan include:

Long-Term Planning. The city will establish sustainable development standards in its General Plan with the intention of promoting high-density commercial and residential development near transit or on in-fill sites and limiting low-density housing. The standards will encourage builders to create opportunities for residents and employees to walk to retail, entertainment venues, parks, and schools in all neighborhoods. The General Plan Update, Envision San José 2040, will include clear and measurable standards for sustainable development.

Emission Reduction. This element concentrates in decreasing dependency on the automobile, and expanding the use of public transportation. The city will also replace its city fleet with “green vehicles” and provide support for alternative vehicles with public plug-in recharging stations and access to alternative fuels.

The plan calls for the development of smaller, lighter, and alternative fuel vehicles for mass and private transit. The City of San José is establishing a center to stimulate the development of such clean, alternative fuel vehicles using Silicon Valley technology.

Partnerships with San José educational institutions will promote walking to school and using zero-emission buses. Local policies will encourage residents and businesses to use zero-emission and hybrid vehicles. The city will advocate for State and Federal legislative action for additional investment in research and consumer incentives.

Smart, Green Streets. San José will adopt advanced technology such as light emitting diode (LED) efficient lighting, solar-powered lighting systems, and message and traffic intelligence programs to move traffic efficiently.

The city will test new ways to pave streets, parking lots, sidewalks, and trails. New pervious surfaces, which allow water to penetrate the surface, offer promise for being better for the environment.

Expanding the urban forest will help cool streets and sidewalks, clean the air, improve water quality, and help convert carbon dioxide emissions to oxygen.

To encourage more pedestrian and bicycle travel, the city is considering the installation of covered facilities along City sidewalks that will make it more convenient and comfortable for residents to walk and cycle. These cooling stations would serve as bike lockers or benches where people can rest or wait for a bus. At the same time, the stations would collect solar power to run adjacent streetlights.

Expanding the system of park trails to 100 miles will allow residents to travel more easily by bicycle or on foot.

Green Airport. The plan calls for the use of green building materials in the construction of the improvements at the San José International Airport. The airport will also generate alternative energy, implement energy efficient practices, mitigate noise, and enact initiatives to protect air quality. San José will continue its use of alternative energy vehicles for airport operations and encouraging the use of zero-emission modes of transportation to get to and from the airport.




This is a good example to illustrate the fact that the move towards sustainability won't come from the federal administration or ftom the congreess but from local administration (state or cities). Chuck Reed got the point that the areas of new energies, energy saving, sustainable transportations, will create jobs and opportunities and not "harm our economy" in that sense he is clever than WB but that's not a compliment :)


It amazes me that the government in Washington is so far removed from the contemporary issues of the common American. They appear to be paralyzed by the easy money and favors of big business and the desire for power to the point of forsaking their value systems. It's a shame too, because they command the use of a far larger pot of tax money than the states; money that could go far to solving our pollution, health, and social problems. Instead they have moved the county into untenable wars and indefensible positions of depending on other countries for our prosperity.

I hope that those who read this site impart their knowledge to as many other voters as possible so we get the right person in the White House at the next election. Who is the best person to lead the nation? I don't know; but, I hope we all use our knowledge and understanding to vote for the person and not a party.


It's clear that the current WB administration did a terrible job in that respect and gave a image of a selfish america to the rest of the world by standing behind the position : "we will not cap our emission until China and India accept to cap their" this is totaly irresponsible. This the duty of developped countries (in particular america) to take the lead in fighting greenhouse emissions since ther are responsible for most of the greenhouse induced damages so far. Once the developped countries will have started to reduce their emission I have no doubt that China and India will in turn join us in that job. But americains politicians think they have better to do than caring about global warming... like going to war :(

It is not a place to talk about politics here but we all know who would be the ideal candidate for the next election, unfortunately he is not interested in politics anymore and for good reasons...


unfortunately he is not interested in politics anymore and for good reasons...

Foremost of which is that he lost when it mattered.


San Jose has been welcoming to thin-film photovoltaics, and should be able to enhance many aspects of energy collection and management. San Jose is a community of early adopters, so there's a good chance they will get early experience with managing renewable power systems and peripherals.

How much room for improvement is there in power management? Don't power plants waste huge amounts of power because cycling plants down and up takes so long? Don't oil wells flare off millions of cubic feet of methane because they don't have an affordable way to capture and transport it? Certainly lots of municipal buildings leave the lights/heat/AC on more than need be...what's the potential for conservation in all of that?


Not mentionning that SAN JOSE and the silicon valley in general have a huge potential of solar and wind energy, if they were installing wind mills on the mountains around the SV, just like they did in Tarifa in Spain, it will generate a significant amount of their electricity need. They also have the right urban configuration (space, density) for a large deployement of public transportation.



Dunno if San Jose is well suited for mass transit. Their growth plan has been trying to encourage high density along the light rail trolly corridor they built, and it still suffers from light ridership. Most of San Jose is Suburban sprawl with a high household income, and citizens with a keen awareness that time is money. Most of the jobs in San Jose are in 2-story buildings that are spread out over many miles of the northern part of the valley. For most of the residents, the average commute is less than 40 minutes, but buses are much slower because of waiting, transferring, transferring and it's challenging to make mass transit attractive.



I agree that so far the rail trolly in SJ is not very succeessfull, but it is a matter of choice to make it successfull, if you build a highway along a railway, for sure most of peoples will take their car, now if you put railway sin place of highways, the result will be different. public transportations will never fully replace cars and that's not the point, the point is to rebalance the ratio of cars transportation over public transportations.


Like many mindless plans of the far left, this one harms the environment. First, it is not worth the paper it is written on. How many trees were sacrificed to publish this nonsense?
1) Governments do not create jobs, because the crushing effect of higher taxes results in a net loss of jobs to the economy.
2) The first step should be to reduce the per capita use of energy within government by 50%. Lead by example, not mandate.
3) Renewable power costs several times more than fossil fuel power, so this one actually reads, lets increase our energy costs by hundreds of percent.
4) This is redundant to #2 above, just a waste of trees. Accomplish #2 in part by doing #4, rather than padding the list to reach a Letterman like 10.
5) So we burn waste, rather than recycle it? How dumb can you get. And this folks is our incompetent government at work.
6) Since their is a benefit to flushing our waste streams into the bay, this proposal abouts to a waste of words. But whatever is done, people will have less freedom and higher government costs.
7) Talk about talking about plans, what we have here is a forecast for a forecast. More trees down the drain.
8) It does not matter what kind of fuel they run on, if #2 is met, they will be burning less fossil fuel. Note that some studies show that burning E-85 actually harms the environmnet more than burning fossil fuel. And it drives up the cost of food.
9) Ditto, if we reduce government energy use, we will not use lighting as much but use reflectors which make use of the available light.
10) We certainly need more trails to walk or jog or peddle on, but this construction would require energy, then folks would have to maintain the trails, and they would use energy.


Van rhymes with Stan.


They should put "add electrical outlets to parking meters" on their list of things to do.



Uh, dude, you're, um, really wrong about everything but #2.

San Jose gave subsidies and expedited permits for NanoSolar to build a several hundred thousand square feet thin-film photovoltaic plant that is, all by itself, going to double the US output of solar cells. The Mayor got involved personally. That does seem to be facilitating bringing green jobs to the region.

The city published the plan in the newspaper, which, was going to be printed net use of paper.

San Jose already recycles a high percentage of municipal waste, but there are technologies such as plasma waste disposal that can derive energy from materials which can not be recycled.

Y'know the Tesla was designed not that far from San Jose.

What do you want? They have a laundry list of ways they hope to make improvements over time. Not all of the techniques are equally useful, but all have some potential. San Jose is uniquely well suited to make some of them happen. Now, go back to the bathroom and take your daily medication.


Hi Healthy Breeze, did the government create the jobs, or did Nanosolar? Nanosolar. Thus if the point read, Attract 25,000 Clean tech jobs... it would be useful. Now take your own meds and go back and read my #1 point again. Think before you speak is a good plan, for those of us who are really trying to protect the planet, as contrasted with embrace socialism, which harms the planet. Think Chernobyl.

My #3 is a valid statement. But you said it was wrong. What is the beef. Renewable power from wind and solar does cost several times as much as fossil. This is an objective fact. The early wind farm designs where low on output and high on maintenance. But the newer designs, taller, larger, are effective and should be built. But the NIMBY's are blocking them. How many wind farms are located in San Jose? Lets address the problem of not only building factories that make solar panels and wind generators, but also site approval for additional generation.

California has a goal of getting 20% of its power from renewables by 2010. But we are behind schedule. What San Jose apparently is planning is to cherry pick the available generation, while others do not get their share and therefore are stuck with fossil power. This is not vision, this is a waste of trees. And give me a break on no additional paper was used? The plan is in its ninth draft and is 13 pages long.


Renewable power from wind and solar does cost several times as much as fossil.

Laughably false. Dismissed.


Think before you speak is a good plan

Childish, reactive "libertarianism", the kind that paints a conservative Democrat as being from the "far left" and that goes off on ridiculous tangents like "government can't create jobs" and "they're wasting trees for reports" is so juvenile as to be unworthy to even be rendered on paper, hence it just gets posted as a little more Internet trash.

Are you bored this weekend, son?


I lived in San Jose in the sixties. The smog was terrible and the whole valley was sinking from using up the aquifers. In fact I moved the family to Florida to protect their health. I applaud the mayor if he is serious about his plans to solve some of their pollution problems unless it's just so much political chin music. I'm sure San Jose is like many of our major cities, overburdened with air, water, and sewer problems. It's interesting that we have the answers to cure these problems, have had them for years; but, our system of political/industrial interplay of competing for power and money precluded setting the correct priorities for solving these public welfare issues. Perhaps the gross increase in fossil fuel costs will supply the impetus cities, like San Jose, need to finally address the problems and seriously solve them. them.

John L.

Van wrote:

"Like many mindless plans of the far left, this one harms the environment."

Um. Mayor Chuck Reed is a Republican.



Stan Peterson


Seriously, You do not have to insult everyone who disagrees with your view of the world. Dig the cotton out of your ears, and listen; you may learn something.

The Mayor of San Jose has a job to do. If he doesn't want to do it, I'm sure someone else would be willing to try to do it. As Mayor he has a full plate of work. Including providing primary and secondary Schools and Education; providing Fire protection; providing the citizens with Police protection. He probably is responsible for municipal waste collection and disposal; and to provide for local roads construction and repair; and probably potable municipal drinking water supplies too.

I'm sure you can think of several other duties a mayor has to perform as well.

If all that is just too boring for His Majesty; I suggest he simply... Resign.

He can then seek appointment as the head of EPA, or Secretary of Energy. Or run for Savior of the Planet, if there were such an office.

Next thing you can expect this non-mayor, Mayor to do, is start accepting Ambassadors and recognizing Foreign Powers. And to start conducting foreign policy for the sovereign city of San Jose. Or maybe he can declare War on San Francisco or Oakland, and lead his legions in battle.


Dig the cotton out of your ears, and listen; you may learn something.

Like that NO2 is a greenhouse gas? LOL.

Thanks. I'll look to factually-based sources for my learning, thank you.


Quoth the Van-troll:

Renewable power from wind and solar does cost several times as much as fossil. This is an objective fact.
It's an objective fact that wind is considerably CHEAPER than natural gas (fossil) generation.  Solar is cheaper than peak electric rates in SV, too.
How many wind farms are located in San Jose?
The wind farms are located in Altamont Pass, to the east, where the winds are.

Nothing unrealistic in this plan (except for 50% electricity use reduction).

In fact, it is done in 2 million coastal city with comparable climate years ago. The city is Tel-Aviv.

For more than 20 years close to 100% of sewage water in Tel-Aviv is recycled. Some water is used for irrigation (with strict health safety supervision); such use does not require costly removal of all nutrients – they substitute mineral fertilizers. Most of treated sewage is pumped into aquifer, where it migrates slowly through permeable layers and cleans itself on the way to highest purity. In couple of years pure water is pumped as potable water once again.

100% of city dwellings have solar water heating systems. Most of the year there is plenty of hot water to use in kitchens and bathrooms without additional heating. Solar water heating supplies more then 5% of total energy consumption of the country. All new buildings are required by law to have such systems, and high-rises have central solar water heaters integrated into roof design.

All sidewalks are made from permeable block structures. It is very easy to reassemble it, put communications in, and reassemble. No need to dig through roads, as it is foolishly done in America.

The city is much greener than any European capital. Combination of sprinkler and drip irrigation is the most water use efficient.

Tel-Aviv closed it horrendous Hiriya landfill. For couple of years all municipal waste is mechanically sorted (magnetic separation of iron, electromagnetic separation of other metals, flotation separation of plastic) and recycled. Organic components are digested, and biogas is used in diesel generators to produce electricity. Digested sludge is used as pot soil with high content of fertilizers. Take a look at:

for process description. It is, actually, cheaper than land filling, and couple of cities around the world (UK, US) are planning to employ the system. It also makes recycling at the source unnecessary (but desirable: clean paper and clean plastic have higher value than biogas and dirty plastic mix; there are plans to use dirty plastic to produce liquid fuel by pyrolysis, as it is customary done in Japan).

Solar panel/LED city lighting will be employed in “sunny” Toronto. In some cases, autonomous city light is cheaper than to lay new underground cable to lighting post.


Things have changed in San Jose over the last 10 years. In 1997 I contacted the person responsible for promoting clean energy jobs in the area. She told me then that she was the only one in the department and could not really do anything, but was there to "facilitate" any business opportunities that might come along. It is interesting what city government can do when they stop making token gestures and do something meaningful.


Hi Folks, first Chuck Reed is listed as a Democrat, not a Republican. So John L, posted a falsehood.

Two, fossil generation costs about 3 cents per KWH, wind about 7.5 cents per KWH, and solar about 20 cents per KWH. So I stand by the statement that renewables cost several times more than fossil power. A lot of effort is made to offset this fact by referring correctly to the social costs, because if you create a high enough charge for air pollution, you can say renewables are cheaper.

Three the statement was made that the report was published in the newpaper and therefore no trees were sacrified. I simply responded with the fact of 9 drafts of a 13 page report. But the idea is that the report is not worth the paper it is written on. It is grand standing. We will not protect the planet by encourging people like Mayor Reed to publish reports for actions to be completed long after he leaves office.

Final thought, I suffer from air pollution, and so I look forward to clean air. But all the government regulations have not given us clean air. Hybrid cars powered from renewables and nuclear will give us clean air. Now what the governments should be doing is encouraging that to happen. Pretty simple really.


Altamount Pass Wind Farm has about 5000 wind turbines of the old design, short, with lattice towers that attract birds, and a capacity factor south of 25%. It is estimated that more than 1000 raptors, owls, hawks and eagles, some of which are protected, are chopped up each year. Does the plan address ripping out the outmoded 1980's designs, and putting in 5000 MWs of capacity? Nope. So we continue to chop birds, and produce less than 500 MWs of power, on average, at a huge cost. Where is the vision?

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