Green in the City

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Achieving Cupertino’s environmental and sustainability goals depends on everyone: residents, businesses, organizations and the City. The City provides leadership through ordinances and policies that reflect the values and needs of the community. The City also leads by example with green practices in municipal operations. Together, our community is making a difference every day and gaining national and regional recognition for doing so.  

City Awards & Recognition

  • Beacon Spotlight Platinum Level Award from the Institute for Local Government in 2017 for achieving 23% greenhouse gas reduction in municipal operations comparing 2010 to 2015.
  • Beacon Spotlight Gold Level Award from the Institute for Local Government in 2017 for achieving 13% greenhouse gas reduction community-wide comparing 2010 to 2015.
  • Beacon Spotlight Platinum Level Award from the Institute for Local Government in 2016 for achieving 22% energy savings in our municipal buildings. 
  • Beacon Spotlight Platinum Level Award from the Institute for Local Government in 2016 for sustainability best practices.
  • Outstanding Case Study Award from the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council in 2016 for the "Green Business Certification Drives Green Purchasing Strategies" case study.
  • SolSmart Gold Designation: SolSmart, funded through the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot initiative, recognizes cities for making it easier, cheaper, and faster for residents and businesses to go solar. The City of Cupertino was designated in July 2017 as a SolSmart Gold city for its work to reduce barriers and encourage solar energy adoption.

City Plans, Policies & Ordinances  

  • Climate Action Plan (CAP): Adopted in 2015, defines Cupertino's community and municipal emissions reduction pathway through 2050.  
  • General Plan, Environmental Resources & Sustainability Element: Adopted in 2014, provides policies related to climate change, air quality, energy, natural resources and other environmental measures.  
  • Compact of Mayors: In December 2015, joined coalitions of Mayors and city officials worldwide committing to reduce local greenhouse gas emissions and enhance resilience to climate change. Compact of Mayors_graphic
  • U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement: Pledges that Cupertino will reduce carbon emissions below 1990 levels.  
  • Bicycle Transportation Plan: Adopted in 2016, encourages bicycling as a safe, practical and healthy alternative to motor vehicle use.   
  • Ordinances
    • Commercial Organics Ordinance: Requires high generators of food waste to separate food, yard and compostable paper waste for collection by Recology and composting.
    • Foam Foodware Container Ordinance: Ordinance NO. 14 -2116, adopted in 2014, restricts distribution of food containers made from polystyrene foam (known as Styrofoam™). 
    • Green Building Ordinance: Effective July 1, 2013, mandates that all new buildings and structures, additions, renovations and tenant improvements – to which California Green Building Standards Code apply – meet minimum green building requirements.
    • Reusable Bag Ordinance: Adopted in 2013, prohibits the distribution of thin, plastic carry-out bags. 
    • Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance: Updated in 2015, requires water use reduction measures for projects that include landscape areas of 500 square feet or more. 

Municipal Operations

  • Bay Area Green Business Certification: All City facilities have met stringent standards for water, energy and resource conservation, as well as pollution and waste prevention, to achieve this certification.
  • Bike Fleet: Bicycles are available for the use of City staff.   
  • Clean Fuel Vehicles: Clean fuel vehicles make up 15% of Cupertino's municipal fleet, and the City has installed six public electric vehicle charging stations.
  • Drought Tolerant Landscaping: The City has converted turf or replaced plant types in high water consumption areas.
  • Environmentally Preferable Purchasing: This policy directs the purchase of green office, electronic and cleaning supplies and is embedded in the janitorial services contract.   
  • Paperless Agendas & Building Permits: Cupertino was one of the first cities to pilot paperless agendas, and the Building and Planning Department has required electronic plan submittal since 2016.
  • Silicon Valley Clean Energy: Cupertino was the first city to join this local agency, which gives residents and businesses clean electricity choices starting in April 2017.
  • Rain Barrels: The City has installed these at McClellan Ranch Preserve to capture rainwater for landscaping use.  
  • Solar Generation: The solar carport project installed in 2014 at the City’s Service Center offsets approximately 74% of the Center’s energy use.
  • Street Light Upgrades: The City retrofitted street lights to LEDs from 2009 to 2010.