State and Local Policy Database

San Jose

City Scorecard Rank


San Jose, CA

62.00Scored out of 100Updated 8/2019
Local Government Score:
3.5 out of 9 points
Local Government Climate and Energy Goals List All

The Climate Smart San Jose plan includes climate and energy goals for the City of San Jose’s municipal operations.

Climate Mitigation Goal

The city does not have a climate mitigation or greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal for municipal operations.

Energy Reduction Goal

We did not find information regarding a municipal energy reduction goal.

Renewable Energy Goal

The Climate Smart San Jose plan includes a goal to increase solar capacity on municipal buildings to 86 megawatts by 2050, with interim capacity goals of 11 megawatts by 2021 and 28 megawatts by 2030.

Last updated: June 2019

Procurement and Construction List All

Fleet Policies and Compo

San Jose’s Green Fleet Policy guides staff through vehicle procurements and requires consideration of alternative fuel options to reduce carbon emissions. San Jose’s municipal fleet is composed of 16.5% efficient vehicles, including hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric vehicles. 

Public Lighting

San José’s Department of Transportation follows and references IES’ roadway guide for practice but there is no formal adoption of this or the Model Lighting Ordinance for streetlights or outdoor lighting. The Public Streetlight Design Guide, adopted in February 2011, has a goal to replace 100% of streetlights with zero-emission lighting. To date, approximately 39% of the City’s streetlights have been converted to LEDs with adaptive controls.

Green Building Requirements 

The city’s green building policy (Policy 8-13) requires all municipal projects—including those receiving City funds—design, construct, and achieve at minimum LEED Silver certification.

Last updated: June 2019

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking and Retrofitting

San José currently benchmarks 25% of its municipal building square footage, but through the new Energy and Water Building Performance Ordinance, the City will be required to benchmark and disclose approximately 92% of municipal buildings that are 5,000 square feet or larger. The current ESCO agreement scope of work will be completed in 2019. The passage of the Energy and Water Building Performance Ordinance will provide an opportunity to create a retrocommissioning strategy. Additionally, one- and five-year Capital Improvement Plans for city facilities managed by the Public Works Department are being developed and will include energy efficiency projects as appropriate. Facility energy and water audits have been performed at the City’s Animal Care Services facility and City Hall.

Public Workforce Development

San José has an alternative work schedule policy for City employees.

Last updated: June 2019

Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 9 out of 16 points
Community-Wide Summary List All

The City of San Jose formally adopted the Climate Smart San Jose plan in 2018.

Last updated: June 2019

Community-Wide Climate Mitigation and Energy GoalsList All

Climate Mitigation Goal

The Climate Smart San Jose plan established greenhouse gas emission reduction goals of 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, with interim reduction goals of 4% by 2021, 28% by 2025, 36% by 2030, and 70% by 2040. ACEEE projects the city will achieve its community-wide GHG emissions reduction goal. 

San Jose’s most recent greenhouse gas inventory accounts for 2014 emissions and includes results from the city’s 2008 greenhouse gas emissions inventory.

Energy Reduction Goal

The San Jose Green Vision plan establishes a goal to reduce per capita energy use 50% by 2022.

Climate Smart San Jose established an additional goal to reduce household energy consumption from 14,988 kWh in 2017 to 5,704 kWh by 2050, with interim reduction goals of 10,626 kWh by 2030 and 6,547 kWh by 2040.

Renewable Energy Goal

San Jose has a goal to install 1,362 megawatts of renewable energy generation capacity by 2050, passing the 1 GW mark in 2038, as stated in the Climate Smart San Jose plan. The plan also includes an interim goal of having 225 MW of renewable energy generation capacity by 2021.

Energy Data Reporting

The city reports community energy emissions data in its greenhouse gas inventory.

Last updated: June 2019

Equity-Driven Approaches to Clean Energy Planning, Implementation, and EvaluationList All

Equity-Driven Community Engagaement

While developing the Climate Smart San Jose plan, the city conducted 38 community meetings and events in Spanish-speaking and Vietnamese-speaking neighborhoods. Environmental Services partnered with the nonprofit organization, Mothers Out Front, to hold a Spanish-language outreach event to publicize Climate Smart to Spanish-speaking residents of San José.

Equity-Driven Decision-Making

We were unable to determine if the city has created a formal role for marginalized community residents or local organizations representing those communities to participate in decision-making that affects the creation or implementation of a local energy, sustainability, or climate action plan.

Accountability to Equity

We were unable to determine whether the city has adopted specific goals, metrics, or protocols to track how multiple energy, sustainability, or climate action initiatives are affecting local marginalized groups.

Each section of the Climate Smart San José plan includes “Access to Low Income Communities” as a focus area with several qualitative goals. However, we could not determine if these were time-limited or included specific methods for tracking progress. 

Last updated: June 2019

Clean Distributed Energy SystemsList All

The city has been installing its own on-site solar systems.

Last updated: June 2019

Mitigation of Urban Heat Islands List All

The city’s Green Vision plan includes a goal to plant 100,000 new trees by 2022.

San Jose passed two policies pertaining to low-impact development requirements. Policy 6-29 requires new and redevelopment projects that create or replace 5,000 square feet or more of impervious surfaces must incorporate low impact development techniques. Policy 8-14 requires that projects that are both greater than one acre in size and in proximity to creeks ensure post-development flow rates are equal or less than pre-development flow rates.

The city has also adopted requirements for the protection of private trees.

Last updated: June 2019

Buildings Policies
Score: 23 out of 30 points
Buildings Summary List All

The City of San Jose adheres to California’s energy code. The city adopted a benchmarking ordinance covering buildings larger than 20,000 square feet. The city offers several incentives and financing programs for energy efficiency and solar projects. San Jose requires building owners perform to perform energy-saving actions.

Last Updated: March 2019

Building Energy Code AdoptionList All


The State of California allows its local jurisdictions to adopt building energy codes that are more stringent than the mandatory state codes. Title 24 outlines all California building codes. Title 24, Part 6 includes the California Energy Code and the California Building Energy Efficiency Standards (BEES). Title 24, Part 11 includes the California Green Building Code. The 2016 codes exceed the 2015 IECC standards and ASHRAE/IESNA 90.1-2013. To learn more about California’s building energy codes, please visit the State Policy Database.


Commercial properties comply with the 2016 California Building Standards Code. The city’s zEPI score for their commercial energy code is 51.7.


Residential properties comply with the 2016 California Building Standards Code. The city’s zEPI score for their residential energy code is 59.6.

Solar- and EV-ready

San Jose adheres to the solar- and EV-ready requirements already included in the California Building Standards Code.

Last Updated: March 2019

Building Energy Code Enforcement and ComplianceList All

San Jose does not have staff solely dedicated to energy code compliance. The city enforces Title 24 code compliance through mandatory plan reviews and inspection and requires third-party verification. The city does not provide upfront support for building owners or developers.

Last Updated: March 2019

Benchmarking, Rating, & Transparency List All

Commercial and multifamily

California Assembly Bill (AB) 802 requires the owners of buildings over 50,000 square feet to benchmark energy usage. San Jose recently passed the Energy and Water Building Performance Ordinance, which will require all privately owned buildings over 20,000 square feet to benchmark energy usage. The Ordinance will require 82% of commercial and multifamily buildings to comply.


San Jose does not have a benchmarking program in place for residential buildings.

Last Updated: March 2019

Incentives and Financing for Efficient Buildings and Renewable EnergyList All

San Jose currently offers five incentives and financing options for energy efficiency and solar projects.

Commercial and residential property owners may access property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing for energy efficiency improvements and solar installations.

Through the Affordable Housing Investment Plan, the city offers priority financing for developers incorporating green building features into affordable housing units.

Please note that each incentive/program is tallied based on the building types and energy resources eligible for award. For example, a PACE financing program that offers energy efficiency and renewable energy financing to both residential and commercial property owners is counted as four incentives.

Last Updated: March 2019

Required Energy ActionsList All

San Jose requires two additional above-code energy-saving actions.

The Energy and Water Building Performance Ordinance requires owners of low-performing buildings greater than 20,000 square feet to conduct an energy audit or to perform retrofitting or retrocommissioning of the building.

Council Policy 6-32 requires commercial projects of more than 25,000 square feet but less than 75 feet in height to be LEED Silver certified. Residential developments less than 10 units are required to complete a GreenPoint or LEED Checklist. Residential developments greater than 10 units are required to be GreenPoint Rated at 50 points or be LEED Certified. 

Last Update: May 2019

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Workforce DevelopmentList All

In 2014 the City’s workforce development arm, Work2Future, was awarded $900,000 as part of the California Clean Energy Jobs Act to train young adults from disadvantaged populations in core construction and place them in pre-apprenticeship programs. After initial success the City was awarded an additional $470,000 in 2017, totaling $1,370,000. Since 2017 the program has trained 276 young adults from the target populations, with an 82 percent job placement rate, including 108 graduates placed in union apprenticeships in carpentry, electrical, and sheet metal. In 2018, 33 have enrolled to date and 25 have graduated. In 2018, training takes place on the campus of San José City College.

Thirty-two percent of the young adults served are female and fifteen percent are veteran; both ratios are significantly higher than those seen in local industry. Additionally, 57 of the graduates were formerly homeless and have transitioned into stable housing through the support of the County of Santa Clara Office of Supportive Housing.

Last Update: March 2019

Energy & Water Utilities
Score: 11.5 out of 15 points
Energy & Water Utilities Summary List All

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), an investor-owned utility (IOU), is the primary gas and electric utility serving the City of San Jose. The City of San Jose is an active promoter of PG&E’s energy efficiency programs. The State of California requires spending and savings targets for its utilities through an EERS and requires local government- utility partnerships through mandate by the California PUC. To learn more about the state requirements for electric and gas efficiency, please visit the California page of the State Database.

There are three water retailers in San Jose: the San Jose Municipal Water System, which is municipally run, and the San Jose Water Company and Great Oaks Water Company, which are privately owned. The Santa Clara Valley Water District is the region’s water wholesaler. All of the retailers above provide drinking water services to San Jose. The San Jose-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility treats the region’s approximately 113 million gallons of wastewater daily. Approximately 13% of treated waste water is recycled where it is distributed to 750 customers for use in cooling towers and landscape irrigation. The San Jose Water and Sewer Utilities manages the stormwater for the city.

Last Updated: March 2019

Electric & Gas Energy Efficiency Programs and SavingsList All

In 2017, according to PG&E, they achieved 1,343,224 MWh in net incremental savings, representing 1.63% of retail sales. In 2017, PG&E reported savings of 28.00 MMtherms from natural gas efficiency programs, representing 1.45% of its retail sales. These figures cover the entire California service territory, not just San Jose. PG&E offers electric and natural gas efficiency incentives and technical assistance to residential and commercial/industrial customers.

San Jose partners with PG&E to promote and administer the Silicon Valley Energy Watch, which serves all of Santa Clara County with energy efficiency services, outreach, and training. Currently, the City of San Jose advocates to the state for additional energy efficiency program resources through the Local Government Sustainable Energy Coalition, on which the city maintains a board seat.

San Jose partners with PG&E to promote and administer the Silicon Valley Energy Watch (SVEW), which serves a total of fourteen jurisdictions located in Santa Clara County. The purpose of the program is to deliver innovative and comprehensive energy efficiency services and outreach to hard-to-reach customers, specifically local governments, nonprofits, small- and medium-sized businesses, and low-income residents. SVEW's overarching goal is to ensure that its targeted customers take advantage of the range of audits, rebates, and technical support that are offered. SVEW has helped to save over 35 million kWh of energy since its inception. In addition to helping to bring in direct, claimable energy savings, SVEW receives funding to conduct non-resource activities that align with the goals of the California Long-Term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan adopted by the California Public Utilities Commission in 2008.

A recently launched non-resource project is the Energy Innovation Grant (EIG) Program, which will build the capacity of municipal governments in Santa Clara County to deliver innovative, effective, and replicable projects to encourage the adoption of energy efficient practices among targeted communities and sectors served by SVEW. A total of $180,000 is available for grants through this program in 2017.

Last Updated: March 2019

Low-Income & Multifamily EE Programs List All

Low-Income Programs

PG&E offers the Energy Savings Assistance Program to qualified low-income residential customers. The program provides direct installation of lighting efficiency upgrades, HVAC tune-ups, smart power strips, and refrigerator recycling/replacement in order to reduce energy consumption in low-income households. This program is implemented statewide by investor-owned utilities under the direction of the California Public Utilities Commission. It leverages the federal Weatherization Assistance Program, Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, and Low-Income Weatherization Program offerings. In 2017, PG&E’s low-income programs achieved energy savings of 59,263 MWh and 1.65 MMtherms while serving 87,052 electric and natural gas customers.

Multifamily Programs

PG&E offers the California New Homes Multifamily Program. This comprehensive program provides support for saving energy in the residential new construction sector with a cross-cutting focus on sustainable design and construction, green building practices, energy efficiency, and emerging technologies. Through a combination of education, design assistance and financial support, the programs work to encourage building and related industries to exceed California's Title 24 energy efficiency standards. Additionally, PG&E offers the Multifamily Properties Energy-Efficiency Rebates Program for rebates to owners and managers of existing multifamily properties to help maximize comprehensive energy efficiency improvements to individual tenant units and common areas for apartment buildings, mobile home parks, and condominium complexes. Rebates are available for products installed in both common areas and units. Additionally, the PG&E Multifamily Upgrade Program (MUP) promotes and facilitates energy-efficient retrofits of multifamily housing (“projects”) through program coordination, technical support, and cash incentives.

In 2017, according to PG&E, its multifamily programs achieved 29,443 MWh in energy savings, while serving 6,317 units.

Last Updated: March 2019

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

In order to assist large building managers with accessing aggregated energy data for building benchmarking, PG&E provides automatic data entry into Portfolio Manager. Currently, the City of San Jose has a data sharing agreement with PG&E, and the City also advocates for policy improvements directly to the California Public Utilities Commission on an annual basis.

Last Updated: March 2019

Renewable Energy Efforts of Energy UtilitiesList All

Renewable Energy Incentives

In 2017, PG&E provided $14,998,004 in incentives for the installation of 14,238 kW of new distributed solar systems, equating to $1,039/kW installed. PG&E offered four different solar incentive programs in 2017, including Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing (MASH), Single Family Affordable Solar Housing (SASH), New Solar Homes Partnership (NSHP), Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP).

The MASH program is currently closed to new applicants and has been replaced by the Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing (SOMAH). SOMAH is a statewide program that aims to install 30 MW of generating capacity by 2030, making solar accessible to low-income ratepayers in the state. The SASH program provides one up-front capacity-based incentive of $3 per watt to qualified low-income homeowners for the installation of solar systems. NSHP provided incentives to encourage home builders to construct new, energy efficient solar homes. NSHP is no longer accepting applications, as the program has ended per Senate Bill 83. SGIP provides financial incentives for business and residential customers installing new, qualifying equipment for generating and storing energy, applying to both renewable and non-renewable technologies.

City-Led Efforts to Decarbonize the Electric Grid

San Jose Clean Energy (SJCE) launched service to city-owned accounts in September 2018 and will launch fully to all residents and businesses in February 2019 with a power mix of 45% renewable, 35% hydroelectric (80% carbon-free), and 20% unspecified system power. SJCE intends to enter into power purchase agreements with developers of wind and solar plants who will build new plants to fulfill the agreements with SJCE. SJCE plans to offer 100% GHG-free power as a base product no later than 2021.

Last Updated: March 2019

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

City-wide water efficiency and goals

The San Jose Municipal Water System offers free water fixtures for its San Jose customers, including showerheads and kitchen and bathroom faucet aerators, and has also started to partner with PG&E to increase conservation efforts. Silicon Valley Energy Watch includes information on water conservation in its Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Home Energy Saving Toolkit. Residents who check out a kit may keep low-flow faucet aerators, a low-flow showerhead, and water leak detection tablets.

San José Municipal Water System (Muni Water) continues to implement water efficiency practices and new technologies that meet and exceed its water savings goals for multiple agencies and programs. For example, Muni Water has already met and exceeded its California SB-X7-7 2020 goal of 145 gallons per capita per day (GPCD) by reaching 126 GPCD in 2015. This is monitored and tracked through each retailer's Urban Water Management Plan (UWMP). Muni Water is also actively working towards reaching California’s recently passed AB-1668 bill calling for an indoor residential water usage of 50 GPCD in 2030. Muni Water is working towards that goal in conjunction with Climate Smart San José, which sets the residential GPCD target to 42 GPCD by 2030. Water-efficient practices continue to remain in place and new technologies are being implemented to continue the reduction of water use to meet these goals.

San Jose Municipal Water System continues to implement its enhanced water conservation outreach efforts. San Jose’s General Plan also outlines specific water savings targets, which include reducing citywide per capita water consumption by 25% by 2040 below 2010 levels and achieving 50 million gallons per day of water conservation savings in San Jose, by reducing water use and increasing water-use efficiency by 2040.

Water plant efficiency and self-generation

Although there is not an energy efficiency goal established for municipal water service operations, the wastewater utility has implemented a number of energy efficiency measures, including installing more efficient fine bubble diffusers in its aeration tanks, as well as practicing pulsed, or episodic aeration, both of which significantly reduce energy demands for the aeration process. The wastewater utility has also installed LED streetlights throughout its 170-acre campus, and it continues to evaluate additional energy conservation measures. In addition, the wastewater utility is undergoing a $1.4 billion, 10-year Capital Improvement Program (CIP). The CIP has plans to invest in energy efficiency projects including $36.4 million aeration tanks rehabilitation and blower improvement projects which will reduce up to 40% of kWh and $1 million annually in secondary treatment once these projects are completed. The wastewater utility self-generates approximately half its energy supply through the capture and use of digester gas.

Last Updated: March 2019

Score: 15 out of 30 points
Transportation Summary List All

The transportation authority serving the City of San Jose is The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority. VTA also provides the public transportation for the city and the broader metropolitan area, including bus and light rail service. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission is the MPO in charge of conducting metropolitan transportation planning. Its area of jurisdiction encompasses San Jose, and the cities and towns in the Bay Area. The San Jose Department of Transportation is the city agency charged with managing the city’s transportation network.

Last updated: January 2017

Sustainable Transportation Planning List All


Sustainable Transportation Plan

The Circulation Element of the Envision San José 2040 General Plan includes a set of balanced, long-range, multimodal transportation goals, policies, and actions that provide for a transportation network that is safe, efficient, and sustainable. Since its adoption in 2011, the General Plan has gone through annual amendments and a Four-Year Review in 2016. One of the General Plan amendments in 2018 is to reflect the update of the Transportation Analysis Policy to shift the City’s CEQA transportation standard from a congestion-based Level of Service (LOS) to VMT. This Transportation Analysis Policy is part of the multi-prong strategy to reduce VMT, to reduce energy consumption, and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and to create a healthier community.

VMT/GHG Targets and Stringency

In the Envision San José 2040 General Plan, San José maintains a goal to reduce the amount of VMT per service population per day in 2040 by 40% relative to the 2009 levels. This is equivalent to a 1.3% reduction in VMT annually.

Progress Achieved Toward VMT/GHG Targets

San Jose does not track progress towards a VMT/GHG target.

Last Updated: March 2019

Location Efficiency List All

Location Efficient Zoning Codes

The Envision San José 2040 General Plan includes a Focused Growth and Form Based Planning Major Strategy that focuses new growth in a compact and mixed-use format to support the development of new urban neighborhoods that maximize the use of transit systems within the region.

Residential Parking Policies

The current zoning code has a separate set of minimum parking rate requirements for downtown that are lower than the rest of the City. In addition, for development projects that meet certain conditions regarding such as transportation demand management (TDM), public parking sharing, and location in growth areas, the number of required parking spaces can be reduced by up to 100% in the downtown area and up to 50% in the rest of the city.

Location Efficiency Incentives and Disclosure

San José updated its Transportation Analysis Policy in February 2018 to shift its CEQA transportation standard from level of service to VMT. To incentivize compact and infill mixed-use development, San José developed a user-friendly VMT Evaluation Tool ( that developers and consultants can use to estimate the VMT levels of their projects in advance of their applications. The tool includes a total of 27 VMT-reducing strategies for developers to select to reduce the VMT levels of their projects, including project density, mix of uses, and intersection density, etc. Additionally, a set of screening criteria were developed under which development projects are not required to prepare a detailed CEQA transportation analysis, thereby facilitating the project’s environmental review. These screening criteria include requirements related to project density, location in planned growth areas, and affordable housing, etc.

Last Updated: March 2019

Mode Shift List All

Mode Shift Targets

The Envision San José 2040 General Plan includes the following targets: no more than 40% drive-alone, at least 10% by carpool, at least 20% by transit, at least 15% by bicycle, at least 15% on foot.

Progress Achieved Toward Mode Shift Targets

San Jose does not track progress towards its mode shift target.

Complete Streets

San Jose does not currently have a complete streets policy.

Car Sharing

San José’s Master Marking Rate Resolution includes a Car Share Parking Pilot Program, implemented since March 14, 2016, which provides dedicated on-street and off-street parking for carshare vehicles..

Bike Sharing

The city has 38.64 docked bike share bikes per 100,000 people.

Last Updated: May 2019

Transit List All

Transportation Funding

San Jose spends an average of $167.84 per capita on transit.

Access to Transit Services

The city has an All Transit Performance score of 7.2 out of 10.

Last Updated: March 2019

Efficient VehiclesList All

Vehicle Purchase Incentives

At this time, San Jose does not offer incentives for citizens to purchase hybrid, plug-in, or EV vehicles.

Vehicle Infrastructure Incentives

PG&E offers incentives for both public and private EV charging infrastructure through its EV Charge Network program

EV Charging Locations

San Jose has 12.65 publicly available EV charging locations per 100,000 people.

Renewable Charging Incentives

San Jose does not have any incentives for renewable EV charging infrastructure installation.

Last Updated: March 2019

Freight System EfficiencyList All

San José does not have a sustainable freight transportation plan in place nor does it have any policies that address freight efficiency

Last Updated: March 2019

Clean, Efficient Transportation for Low-Income CommunitiesList All

Affordable New TOD Housing Policy

San José updated its Transportation Analysis Policy in February 2018 to shift its CEQA transportation standard from LOS to VMT. To incentivize affordable housing in transit priority areas and areas identified for compact and infill mixed-use development, the policy includes affordable housing as a major VMT-reducing strategy that developers can select to reduce their potential VMT impacts. The policy also includes affordable housing as one of the screening criteria for a detailed CEQA transportation analysis, and as a potential overriding consideration for significant and unavoidable transportation impacts.

Connecting Existing Affordable Housing Stock to Efficient Transportation Options

San José's bike share program, Ford GoBike, offers a low-income discount for residents earning at or less than 200% of the federal poverty level. This low-income discount program is called "Bike Share 4 All" and reduces the $149 annual membership fee to $5 for the first year and $5 per month following that.

Low-Income Access to High Quality Transit

34.4% of low-income households (those that earn less than $50k annually) are located near high-quality, all-day transit in San Jose.     

Last Updated: April 2019