State and Local Policy Database

San Jose

City Scorecard Rank


San Jose, CA

54.50Scored out of 100Updated 5/2017
Local Government Score:
6 out of 10 points
Local Government Summary List All

San Jose's Green Vision Report and the Bay Area Climate Change Compact articulate the city’s energy efficiency goal and strategies for internal government operations. The city’s strategies work to reduce energy use in municipal buildings and streetlights, decrease fuel consumption by the city fleet, and reduce solid waste. The Public Works Department oversees implementation of government operations goals and facilitates interdepartmental coordination.

Last updated: February 2017

Local Government Energy Efficiency Goals List All

The city has an internal goal of achieving a 15% energy use reduction by 2018 from 2008 baseline, in accordance with the Bay Area Climate Change Compact. The city council authorized the mayor to sign the compact in October 2008.


To meet this energy goal, San Jose would need to reduce energy use by 1.5% per year.


San Jose is currently on track for its local government energy goal.


San Jose's Green Vision Report articulates the city’s energy efficiency-related goals and strategies for its internal government operations. These reports are released annually, published on the Green Vision website, and include benchmarking statistics to show progress toward some goals.

Last updated: January 2017

Procurement and Construction List All

Vehicle Fleets and Infrastructure

San Jose does not have specific fuel efficiency requirements for the public fleet. However, for all replacement vehicles, San José’s Green Fleet policy has emission reduction targets. Additionally, the city has a goal to replace 100% of the public fleet with alternative fuel vehicles by 2022. San Jose does not employ web-based, GPS technology for fleet management.

Note: For local fleet initiatives, policies listed must make a specific, mandatory requirement for increasing fleet efficiency. Local alternative-fuel vehicle procurement requirements that give a voluntary option to count efficient vehicles are thus not included.

Public Lighting

We could not confirm if San Jose has adopted a policy requiring efficient outdoor lighting, such as the International Dark-Sky Association’s Model Lighting Ordinance. Nevertheless, the Public Streetlight Design Guide, adopted in February 2011, has a goal to replace 100% of streetlights with zero-emission lighting. .  To date approximately 37% of the City’s streetlights have been converted to LEDs with adaptive controls.

New Buildings and Equipment

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. Energy efficiency is also included in the city’s environmentally preferable purchasing policy.

Last updated: April 2017

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking and Retrofitting

San Jose benchmarks less than 25% of their public building square footage. The city has contracted with an ESCO provider to help identify and implement energy efficiency efforts on municipal buildings.

Public Employees

San Jose’s teleworking policy authorizes departments to consider offering employees the option of alternative work schedules.

Last updated: January 2017

Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 7 out of 12 points
Community-Wide Summary List All

San Jose’s community initiatives related to energy efficiency are primarily outlined through the city’s Green Vision framework. The city has integrated a community-wide energy efficiency goal into its general plan.

Last updated: April 2017

Community-Wide Energy Efficiency GoalsList All

The San Jose Green Vision, a 15-year plan formally adopted as part of the 2011 Envision San Jose 2040 General Plan, calls for reducing community-wide energy consumption 50% below 2008 levels by 2022. The city's Greenhouse Gas Reduction Strategy includes a goal to effectively reduce community-wide greenhouse gas emissions 14% below a 2008 baseline by 2035 through meeting a greenhouse gas efficiency threshold.

San Jose reports on progress annually in Green Vision Annual Reports. Recent data indicates the city is on track to achieve its 2035 greenhouse gas emissions goal.

Last updated: April 2017

Efficient Distributed Energy Systems - District Energy and Combined Heat and PowerList All

We did not find information on any programs or policies to plan for future district energy systems. San Jose is in the early phases of evaluating distributed energy systems as a component of a potential future community choice aggregation program, San Jose Clean Energy. This would serve over 1 million people and potentially decrease significant greenhouse gases emissions.

Last updated: April 2017

Mitigation of Urban Heat Islands List All

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

The city has adopted a private tree protection ordinance. We did not find information on any policies that require or incentivize low impact development (LID) or conservation of private land.

Last updated: April 2017

Buildings Policies
Score: 13.5 out of 28 points
Buildings Summary List All

San Jose has building sector initiatives to improve efficiency. The Department of Planning, Building, and Code Enforcement manages the building energy code compliance and enforcement for the City of San Jose.

Last Updated: January 2017

Stringency of Energy CodesList 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 California Energy Code, BEES and California Green Building Codes have been updated in 2016 and are effective January 1, 2017. 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.


Although local authority is permitted, no stretch code has been adopted. San Jose adheres to the 2016 California codes.


Although local authority is permitted, no stretch code has been adopted. San Jose adheres to the 2016 California codes.

Last Updated: March 2017

Building Energy Code Enforcement and ComplianceList All

San Jose has internal staff dedicated solely to energy code compliance. San Jose does not require building code officials to complete energy code training. San Jose has not made third-party plan review or performance testing mandatory for code compliance, nor has it established either as a voluntary code compliance option. San Jose does not provide upfront support to developers or owners for energy code compliance.

Last Updated: January 2017

Requirements and Incentives for Efficient Buildings List All

Green Building Requirements

Tier 2 commercial projects which include commercial industrial buildings (non-residential) of more than 25,000 square feet but less than 75 feet in height must be LEED Silver certified. Tier 1 residential Projects are required to complete a GreenPoint Rated Checklist or a LEED Checklist.

Energy Audit and Retrofit Requirements

San Jose does not yet require commercial or residential buildings to take energy efficiency actions such as energy audits or retro-commissioning.  

Incentives and Financing for Efficient Buildings

Through San Jose’s 2020 General Plan, the City allows increases to building height limits for private commercial building developers who incorporate green building features into their designs, such as solar panels, green roofs and other energy-saving devices. Through it's Affordable Housing Investment Plan, San Jose offers priority consideration for financing to housing developers who put green building features into supportive and affordable housing units.

The city also administers a PACE program for both residential and non-residential properties.

Last Updated: March 2017

Benchmarking, Rating, & Transparency List All


The State of California adopted Assembly Bill (AB) 802 in October of 2015. It will require commercial and multifamily buildings greater than 50,000 square feet and larger to benchmark energy usage annually. This will most likely begin in 2018. 

Additionally, California requires commercial buildings to obtain and make transparent ENERGY STAR ratings to transactional counter parties and the California Energy Commission at the time of a sale, lease, or financing for the entire building through AB 1130.


San Jose does not have a benchmarking program in place for residential buildings. SoCal MLS, the multiple listing service that serves the San Jose region, includes energy efficiency fields for homes listed on the market.

Last Updated: January 2017

Energy & Water Utilities
Score: 16.5 out of 20 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, 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: January 2017

Electric & Gas Energy Efficiency Programs, Spending & SavingsList All

In 2015, according to PG&E, they achieved 772,000 MWh in net incremental savings, representing 0.90% of retail sales. To achieve these savings, PG&E spent $362,349,996 on electric efficiency programs in 2015, which equates to 2.77% of annual revenue. In 2015, PG&E reported savings of 22.00 MMtherms from natural gas efficiency programs, representing 1.19% of its retail sales. To achieve these savings, PG&E spent $74,216,264 on natural gas efficiency programs, which are normalized to $17.60 per residential customer. Spending on electricity and natural gas represented in this section covers 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: February 2017

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. The program leverages the federal Weatherization Assistance Program, Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, and Low-Income Weatherization Program offerings.

In 2015, according to PG&E, it achieved 31,960 MWh and 2.21 MMtherms in energy savings from its low-income programs, while spending $112,155,783 on its electric and $24,619,562 on its natural gas low-income efficiency portfolio. The program served 100,573 households in total, which we were unable to allocate to either electric or natural gas funding. 

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, this utility offers the Multifamily Properties Energy-Efficiency Rebates Program. This comprehensive program provides rebates for the installation of energy-efficient products in apartment buildings, mobile home parks, and condominium complexes. Rebates are available for products installed in both common areas and units.

Last Updated: June 2017

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

In order for customers to access their own energy data, PG&E makes use of the Green Button data sharing platform. In order to assist large building managers with accessing aggregated energy data for building benchmarking, PG&E provides automatic data entry into Portfolio Manager. PG&E does provide the City of San Jose with community aggregate data for public consumption. The city, as one of PG&E’s oldest Energy Watch partners, has also undergone PG&E's third party security review process in order to receive individual customer data, which is used to implement the city's contract with PG&E for direct install services in small to medium sized businesses and hotels. 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: January 2017

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

Water Efficiency

The San Jose Municipal Water System offers free water fixtures for its San Jose customers, including showerheads and kitchen and bathroom faucet aerators, but does not coordinate programs with PG&E.

In April 2015, the San Jose City Council set a mandated 30% water conservation target, which stayed in effect until July 2016. As the water supply was replenished, San Jose City Council declared a 20% water conservation target in July 2016, which will stay in effect until January 31, 2017. San Jose residents and businesses reached a 28% water conservation level between August 2015 and August 2016. This is slightly under the City’s 30% water conservation target but above the state’s target of 25%. All conservation targets are measured against the baseline year of 2013. 

With the reduction in the target on July 1, water use has increased; however, 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.

Energy 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.

Green Stormwater Infrastructure

The Municipal Regional Stormwater NPDES permit requires Bay Area cities to complete a Green Infrastructure (GI) Plan by September 2019. As of January 2017, San Jose has begun coordination, outreach, and education for its green infrastructure framework. The permit also requires low impact stormwater treatment measures for all public and private developments, which are inclusive of green infrastructure, as well as a pilot Green Streets Project. Additionally, San Jose's urban runoff management policy requires developers to demonstrate compliance with performance standards, which include tree planting as green infrastructure, early in the planning process. Further, San Jose is also installing trash capture systems. These systems connect directly to the storm drain system to capture trash and debris. Nine systems were installed in FY 2011-12, nine more are in construction, totaling eighteen systems covering 3,576 acres.

Last Updated: January 2017

Score: 11.5 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

Location Efficiency List All

Through the Envision San Jose 2040 General Plan, the city has planned a variety of high density and mixed use development in several growth areas. In downtown San Jose, projects meeting certain criteria have parking reductions. As an incentive to promote location-efficiency in Urban Village areas, the city has provided an expedited permitting process for development that meet a certain criteria.

Last updated: December 2017

Mode Shift List All

Modal Share Targets

We could not confirm the existence of targets to promote a modal shift in transportation in San Jose.

Car and Bicycle Sharing

There is a car sharing program currently available to the residents and visitors of San Jose, zipcar. The city is served by a bikesharing program, Bay Area Bike Share .

Complete Streets

San Jose has not yet written or codified a Complete Streets Policy.

Last updated: January 2017

Transit List All

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, and Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board transit systems that serve San Jose have received $675,683,059 in average annual funding from 2011-2015. This funding level is $341.80 per resident in the service territory of the agency, putting it in the second highest category ($250-399) available in transit funding.  

The Transit Connectivity Index measures transit service levels. It is based on the number of bus routes and train stations within walking distance for households scaled by frequency of service. San Jose’s Transit Connectivity Index value is 12, putting it in the fourth highest category (5-14) available in the City Scorecard.

Last updated: January 2017

Efficient VehiclesList All

At this time, San Jose does not offer incentives for citizens to purchase hybrid, plug-in, or EV vehicles. There are no incentives available for the construction of EV charging infrastructure The city has 89 EV charging stations available for public use.

Last updated: January 2017

Freight List All

Sustainable freight plan

San Jose does not have a sustainable freight transportation plan in place nor does the city has any policies that address freight efficiency.

Smart freight

San Jose does not employ an internet-based application or service to coordinate freight transport.

Last updated: January 2017

Sustainable Transportation Planning List All

Envision San Jose 2040 General Plan outlines several strategies to increase sustainable transportation. The overarching strategy is to design and encourage the development of a multimodal system that gives priorities to the needs of bicyclists, pedestrians, and public transit users.

Last updated: January 2017

Low-Income in Transit-Oriented Development Areas List All

We could not confirm if San Jose has requirements or incentives in place to encourage the development or preservation of affordable housing in transit-served areas.

Last updated: January 2017