City Sustainability Actions
Year after year, the City has experienced growing regulatory demands from the state, along with escalating utility rates and a heightened level of interest from the community on all issues relating to sustainability. Though these drivers have led to the creation of our Sustainability Division in 2008, for the past several decades, the City of Cupertino has long implemented environmentally sound policies and practices across its operations. Previous efforts and accomplishments include:
Collaborating for Collective Change
- Signatory to the Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement
- Implemented a computer take-back recycling program working with Apple Computer
- Partnering with Acterra to offer Green@Home, a home energy auditing program for local residents, and Acterra Green, a energy-reduction challenge for local community groups.
- Certified all eight municipal facilities through the Association of Bay Area Governments Bay Area Green Business Program including:
- Active member of Joint Venture Silicon Valley’s Climate Protection Task Force and Sustainable Silicon Valley
- Working with ICLEI– Local Governments for Sustainability USA, Inc. – to benchmark both municipal and city-wide greenhouse gas emissions and implement reductions over time.
- Reduced solar fees to $200 for residents and partnered with Sun City and REC Solar in order to procure discounts for Cupertino residents for the installation of photovoltaic panels.
- City staff are negotiating with PG&E to obtain a more favorable rate for improved streetlight efficiency and working with our utility to provide valuable rebates to residents and businesses.
- Certified and recognized nearly fifty local businesses through the Green Business Program for superior environmental performance.
Building & Planning Green
Building and Planning Green, while helping our residents and businesses save their green
- Adopted a Climate Action Plan (CAP) in January, 2015, developed in collaboration with the community and neighboring cities, to define Cupertino’s emissions reduction pathway through 2050, outline steps to achieve statewide emissions targets, and engage the community in unique approaches to mitigate and adapt to climate change to ensure the longevity of our City.
- 2000 Cupertino General Plan includes an Environmental Resources/Sustainability Section, with policies that call for resource conservation, energy efficiency, alternative transportation planning, green building and wildlife and vegetative management.
- City Council adopted a Green Building Ordinance and a Zero Waste Policy.
- Experts from Southern California-based Global Green, the nonprofit American arm of Green Cross International (GCI), inventoried Cupertino’s codes, policies and programs regarding green building and sustainability in 2007.
- Adopted in 2003, projects are required to meet the Santa Clara Valley Water District’s construction best management practices.
- Modeled after the Santa Clara County Cities Association Green Building Collaborative initiative, the City is directed to apply these green building standards to all development projects:
- Encourage a voluntary review of green building measures for projects associated with discretionary approvals (i.e., 50 points minimum from the Building It Green Checklist and LEED silver Rating).
- Set a threshold of 5,000 square feet for City projects to obtain a minimum LEED silver rating.
- Ask applicants to fill out a green points rating worksheet when applying building permits.
- Adopted a construction and debris (C&D) recycling program ordinance in February 2008 to require applicants seeking building or demolition permits for projects greater than 3,000 square feet to recycle at least 60 percent of project discards. This will assist the City in achieving its’ 60 percent C&D diversion mandate.
Operating with Efficiency
- Water conservation in action -
- In 2000, supported by a grant from San Jose Water Company, the city installed new low flow 1.6 gallon toilets, 1.6 gallon flush valves, and 1 gallon urinal valves in all city buildings where possible.
- Low flow valves are also used in the majority of sinks in all facilities.
- Low flow showerheads are used wherever possible.
- Library and community hall both use automatic sensing sinks for additional water savings.
- Maintenance has a “no drip no leak” policy, where drips and leaks are repaired as soon as possible.
- Saving energy while saving money -
- In 1997 the city retrofitted major buildings from T-12 to T-8 fixtures.
- In 2008 the city retrofitted the Monte Vista Recreational Center to T-8 fixtures and eliminated about 50 light fixtures.
- Library, community hall, and sport center all use computer programmed lighting control systems for both internal and external lights. The library and community hall both use astronomic time feature with sunset ON and sunrise OFF settings.
- In December 2008 the city installed a lighting control system at the Quinlan center that now controls the exterior lighting using astronomic time
- Bathroom sensors are used in the library, community hall and senior center.
- In 2002, the city installed variable drive units on large exhaust fans at Quinlan center and city hall. An additional variable drive was installed on the cooling tower at city hall.
- City hall and Quinlan center HVAC systems are controlled by pneumatic controls and electronic timers.
- Library, senior center and sports center are controlled by an energy management systems.
- Generating renewable energy from the sun-
- The City’s first municipal solar project is located over the carport at the Public Works Service Center near the Burnett Bicycle-Pedestrian Bridge on Mary Ave. The system size capacity is 103.7 kW, and will generate enough electricity to offset 74% of the Service Center energy use across three unique meters. The solar installation will save the City approximately $25,000 per year. The solar carport further delivers communitywide environmental benefits, by eliminating more than 115 tons of annual carbon dioxide emissions over the 25-year life of the system, equivalent to planting 95 acres of forest or removing 25 passenger vehicles from the road each year.
Creating Opportunities to Reduce, Recycle and Reuse Waste
- In collaboration with Recology, the City offers four Environmental Days to Cupertino residents to encourage one-stop recycling, extended use of products and to prevent resources from being sent to the landfill. At the last event in October, approximately 39 tons of material was recycled and diverted from the landfill.
- Free Compost classes are offered to Cupertino residents to help turn food waste into healthy soil for gardening and to reduce methane gases produced by organics sent to landfill. Classes are offered on two Saturdays, March 7th & May 2nd from 10am to noon.
- Since the inception of Cupertino’s organics recycling pilot program (September 2007), food waste totaling 1,424 tons has been diverted from landfill. Compost is processed from organic waste collected under the City’s pilot organics recycling program from three selected businesses: Whole Foods Market, Apple Computer and Park Place Restaurant.
- This past year, 1,650 Cupertino residents picked up 760 tons of compost for personal use at the City's free Compost Site at Stevens Creek Quarry.
- Cupertino will provide a similar organics recycling program for the future kiosk/lunch-bar that is planned for Blackberry Farm.
- In an average year, the Apple Recycling Facility collects approximately 157,000 lbs (78.5 tons) of electronic waste. Over the life of this program, beginning in 2002, the facility has collected approximately 1,102,000lbs (551 Tons) of electronic waste.
- Annually, in August, Cupertino hosts a free convenient household hazardous waste (HHW) drive-through drop-off event at De Anza College for residents to safely dispose of toxic waste such as pesticides, fertilizers, paints and other potentially hazardous products that collect over time in storage spaces or garages.
- 74 people attended the city’s first Coastal Clean-Up event in September at Creekside Park where 300 pounds of trash were collected out of a 2 mile stretch of the Calabazas Creek. The City will be sponsoring another event with Whole Foods in May 2009.
Spreading the Word
- Hosted first Community Congress focused on sustainability on Saturday, December 13, 2008.
- Regularly print articles in the newsletter Cupertino Scene on how to be “Green.”
- Provide green business practices information to employees at orientation and through emails.
- Purchased green building kiosk displaying building materials samples and graphics illustrating green design practices for lobby.
- Created designated mailbox for community members to submit City-focused environmental concerns and ideas for improvement.
Implementing Actions Around Town
- Existing Integrated Pest Management Policy (using less pesticides), use drought tolerant plants and mulch.
- Almost all traffic signals in the city have been changed to light-emitting-diodes (LEDs).
- Recently hired a fulltime environmental affairs coordinator, a step that will significantly increase the level of activity, coordination, and accomplishment in this area.
- Diverted 890 tires from the landfill to reuse as 800 sq. ft. of sidewalk content.
- Retrofitted all city diesel trucks with particulate filters
- Constructing Mary Avenue Bicycle Footbridge crossing Highway 280
- Completing the Stevens Creek Restoration Park Project
- Created quarterly recycling day initiative to encourage extended use of products and to prevent valuable resources from being sent to the landfill
Adopting an Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Policy
- Purchase paper products made with recycled content (already have a policy, 1994, but reinforce and use not just for copy paper, but folders, hanging files, envelopes, etc.).
- Purchase recycled/remanufactured toner and ink jet cartridges.
- Purchase Energy Star appliances and copiers.
- Purchase cleansers and work with janitorial contractors to meet Green Seal’s Industrial and Institutional Cleaners Standard.
- Print with soy or low volatile organic compounds (VOC) inks.
- Require supplies to be ordered by email or electronic form.
Conserving Resources with Office Best Practices
- Default printers to 2-sided copying
- Reinforced double-sided copying policy, adopted in 2000.
- Require catering companies working at indoor city facilities to provide reusable dishes and be responsible for cleanup.
- Converted paper forms to electronic forms and file forms electronically.