Environmental Sustainability Initiatives
Environmental Sustainability Initiatives
Started in 2003, this program allows residents and businesses to “adopt” one of the 28 raised planting beds located along North Santa Cruz Avenue in the Downtown area. Planter “adopters” are responsible for purchasing, planting, and maintaining plant materials in their planter.
BICYCLE REWARDS PROGRAM
Held on a pilot basis in 2005, this program rewarded residents for replacing car trips with bicycle trips by awarding gift certificates for public transit passes and bicycle equipment.
BIKE TO WORK WEEK
The Town annually celebrates National Bike to Work Week, a great way to save on travel expenses and reduce impact on the environment while promoting a healthy lifestyle. Additionally, the Town has a number of employees who regularly bike to work on a year-round basis.
All of the Town’s heavy-duty diesel-fueled trucks and equipment, including street sweepers and dump trucks, run on biodiesel. Biodiesel is a renewable fuel; in the United States, most biodiesel is made from soybean oil, though canola oil, sunflower oil, recycled cooking oil, and animal fats are also used. According to the U.S. EPA, switching an existing vehicle fleet to biodiesel reduces emissions of carbon monoxide, particulate matter, sulfates, hydrocarbons, and air toxics.
This statewide program provides a new way for property owners to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy projects for their homes and businesses.
CITY SOLAR AWARD
In 2007, the Town was honored with 2nd place by the NorCal Solar Energy Association for the number of solar projects installed in a medium-sized city. The innovative solar recognition program, called the City Solar Awards, recognizes municipalities for the amount of solar photovoltaic (PV) technology installed on homes, businesses and municipal buildings.
CIVIC CENTER HVAC SYSTEM
Upgraded in 2006, it incorporates state-of-the-art technology, including variable frequency drives for the electric motors, which reduce energy consumption.
The Los Gatos Town Code requires developers to provide an opportunity for the public to salvage building materials from demolished structures. Developers must advertise in a newspaper when a structure is available for salvaging. All wood, metal, glass, and aluminum materials generated from a demolished structure must be recycled.
DOWNTOWN RECYCLING CONTAINERS
Recycling containers have been installed next to garbage containers in the Downtown area. This provides residents and visitors with an easy option to recycle their waste rather than to throw it away.
E-WASTE COLLECTION EVENTS
The Town partners with Santa Clara County’s Household Hazardous Waste Program to allow residents to correctly dispose of electronic waste, also known as e-waste. If disposed of improperly, e-waste has the potential to cause severe human and environmental health impacts.
The Employee Commute Emissions Reduction Program (ECERP) includes bicycle accommodations, telecommuting opportunities, a carpool program, and public transportation alternatives to help reduce the level of emission generated when Town employees commute to and from work. Additionally, the Town actively encourages its employees to use alternative modes of transportation, such as bicycles or public transportation, when staff travels during the work day on official business.
EXISTING LIBRARY RETROFIT
Once the new Library facility is complete, federal stimulus funds will be used to retrofit the existing library into energy efficient municipal offices and a community meeting space.
EXTENDED PRODUCER RESPONSIBILITY
In 2006, the Town Council adopted a resolution that promotes the integration of environmental costs associated with products throughout their life cycles into their market price, thus requiring businesses to be financially or physically responsible for such products after their useful life.
GENERAL PLAN UPDATE
The 2020 General Plan update will include an identification of the Town’s impact on the environment, and goals and policies to help reduce the overall climate impact and to articulate a commitment to sustainability.
GREEN BUSINESS CERTIFICATION
Since 2007, the Town organization has been certified as a Green Business by Santa Clara County. To be certified “green,” the Town must be in compliance with all regulations and meet program standards for conserving resources, preventing pollution, and minimizing waste. The key goals of the program are to promote resource conservation and pollution prevention.
GREENHOUSE GAS INVENTORY
The Town contracted with the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) to conduct a greenhouse gas inventory, a measurement of the sources and quantities of greenhouse gas emissions resulting from government operations. The inventory includes greenhouse gas emissions for the base year of 2005. The inventory will provide a benchmark against which to measure future progress in reducing emissions.
GROWING GREENER CAMPAIGN
The Los Gatos: Growing Greener Together Campaign provides Town employees and community members with a seasonal newsletter featuring green tips and best practices for home and at work. As part of the Town’s Green Business Certification, this campaign promotes resource conservation and pollution prevention.
HAZARDOUS WASTE PROGRAM
The Town partners with the Santa Clara County Household Hazardous Waste program to ensure that Los Gatos residents may correctly dispose of their household hazardous wastes. Improper storage and disposal of household hazardous waste, such as paint, solvents, and insecticides, is associated with accidental poisonings, collection worker safety risks, and environmental contamination of surface water and groundwater.
HIGH PRESSURE SODIUM LAMPS
As street light fixtures are upgraded and replaced, the old bulbs are replaced with high pressure sodium lamps. These new lamps are very efficient, providing 50 to 140 lumens per watt, and have a lifetime of between 16,000 and 24,000 hours on average.
HILLSIDE DEVELOPMENT STANDARDS AND GUIDELINES
Adopted by the Town Council in 2004, the Hillside Development Standards and Guidelines are a set of standards with which all new hillside homes must comply. They contain voluntary green building standards, including taking maximum advantage of passive solar heating, natural cooling, and natural light; and encouraging the use of salvaged, recycled, or reused building materials.
HOLIDAY TREE RECYCLING
Every holiday season, the Town partners with West Valley Collection and Recycling to arrange for the pickup of holiday trees curbside as a part of their regular collection schedule.
As of April 2010, the Town has 6 hybrid vehicles in its fleet. The Town also has a large fleet of CNG (compressed natural gas) vehicles, which have extremely low CO2 emissions and lower fuel costs.
KEEP LOS GATOS BEAUTIFUL MONTH
Each April, the Town sponsors a series of events and programs to celebrate National Earth Day, National Arbor Day, and National Volunteer Recognition Week, with the goal of raising awareness about the environment and making a positive change on individual behavior.
KILL-A-WATT ELECTRICITY USAGE MONITOR
At the Los Gatos Library, residents can use their library card to check out a Kill-A-Watt Electricity Usage Monitor. This device may be taken home and plugged into household electronics to see how much electricity they require.
LED TRAFFIC LIGHTS
All of the red and green traffic lights in Los Gatos, and the majority of pedestrian signals and yellow traffic lights, use light emitting diodes (LEDs) instead of traditional incandescent lights. LEDs use about 10% to 20% of the energy of an incandescent bulb, reducing energy costs – and last about five times as long, reducing replacement costs.
The Los Gatos Library hosts a variety of books and guest speakers on the topic of environmental sustainability. This effort will continue to grow with the construction of the new Library building where the facility’s LEED-certified features will be showcased.
MAYOR’S CLIMATE PROTECTION AGREEMENT
In 2007, the Town formalized its commitment to take action to significantly reduce global warming pollution by signing the “U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement.” This Agreement, passed unanimously by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, calls for taking action to meet or beat the greenhouse gas emission reduction target of 7% below 1990 levels by 2012.
The new Library facility is planned to be certified LEED Gold. LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system that measures features such as energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions, indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources. In addition, the Library will help contribute to the overall environmental awareness of the community by providing educational materials on sustainable practices.
PG&E’s ClimateSmart PROGRAM
In October 2008, the Town became the first municipality in Santa Clara County to offset its greenhouse gas emissions by enrolling in PG&E’s ClimateSmart Program. Through its voluntary participation in the program, the Town organization is able to offset all of its identified carbon emissions from both electricity and gas usage at all municipal facilities. The offsets consist of forest plantings and preservations in both the Santa Cruz Mountains and Humboldt area forests.
PRINTERS, COPIERS & FAXES
All of the printers, copiers, and fax machines formerly used by the Town organization have been consolidated into single multifunction devices which are Energy Star compliant, require less maintenance and less electricity, and default to 2-sided printing.
During the summer months, the Town and the Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce sponsor the Second Saturdays program, which helps support local business by encouraging residents to shop locally. The program also has environmental benefits, as residents can avoid driving extended distances to shop, and also enjoy a pedi-cab ride through Downtown.
SILICON VALLEY ENERGY PROGRAM
The Town is a member of the Silicon Valley Energy Program, a joint project of PG&E and the City of San Jose. With the twin goals of saving energy and saving money, this program offers rebates, classes, energy audits, and technical assistance to businesses and local organizations.
SOLAR POWER PURCHASING AGREEMENT
The Town is currently pursuing a long-term contract to buy renewable energy through a competitive process, at rates less than or equal to those for traditional power.
SPARE THE AIR
When a “Spare the Air” day is identified by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, the Town actively places updates on its website encouraging residents to refrain from potentially harmful activities such as burning wood. The Spare the Air program asks residents to reduce pollution by making clean air choices every day.
Town street sweeping equipment is compliant with Rule 1186 requirements for PM10-efficient sweepers. This certification ensures that the street sweepers will pick up particulate matter with a diameter of 10 microns or less from the roadway; the goal is to reduce contribution to particulate air pollution. The standard was established for Southern California municipalities, and has not yet been required of Bay Area communities, but the Town has voluntarily adopted the more stringent standard.
TREE CITY USA
In 2010, the Town was named a Tree City USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation for the 30th consecutive year, honoring its commitment to its community forest. In order to become a Tree City USA, a community must have a tree board or department, a tree care ordinance, a comprehensive community forestry program, and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation. Each year, the Town coordinates a community celebration and plants trees in honor of Arbor Day. The Tree City USA program is sponsored by the National Arbor Day Foundation, in cooperation with the National Association of State Foresters and the USDA Forest Service.
WASTE DIVERSION (AB939)
CalRecycle, the state agency tasked with regulating solid waste in California, requires that every municipality divert at least 50% of its solid waste from the landfill. In its last certification, Los Gatos exceeded the state goal by diverting 56% of its solid waste from landfill disposal.
WATER EFFICIENCY LANDSCAPE ORDINANCE
The Water Efficiency Landscape Ordinance was adopted by the Town Council in 1992 to promote conservation and efficient use of water. All new commercial developments and residential developments of five or more units are subject to this ordinance, which requires developers to calculate the water allowance permitted for the site and estimated water usage. The ordinance encourages the use of recycled water irrigation.
WOOD BURNING ORDINANCE
Town Ordinance No. 1905, the Wood Burning Ordinance, restricts the sale and use of fireplaces and other wood-burning appliances that do not meet federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards. According to the EPA, residential wood burning contributes significantly to particulate air pollution.