Sustainable Silicon Valley (SSV) was formed as a multi-stakeholder collaborative initiative to produce significant environmental improvement and resource conservation in Silicon Valley through the development and implementation of a regional environmental management system (EMS).
Formed in 2001 as a project of California EPA, Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD), Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG) and Silicon Valley Environmental Partnership (SVEP), SSV became independent in 2004. We use a systematic ‘plan-do-check-adjust’ environmental management approach to accelerate CO2 emissions, water reduction goals and economic returns.
Top Environmental Pressures Identified
Representatives from these organizations formed a team to develop a project plan and introduce it to a wider group of participants. Participants were invited from the entire Silicon Valley region, including Santa Clara and San Mateo, Northern Santa Cruz, and Southern Alameda counties.
These participants identified 35 key environmental pressures, the top six being:
- Use of energy from non-renewable sources measured by CO2 emissions
- Use of fresh water
- Urban sprawl
- Habitat development and fragmentation
- Use of non-renewable raw materials
- Discharges of toxic chemicals to the air
Of the six highest priority environmental pressures, SSV's first two foci have been on reducing Energy Use/CO2 emissions and use of fresh water.
SSV's regional goal is to reduce CO2 emissions in the Silicon Valley to 20% below their 1990 levels by the year 2010. This compares to the Kyoto Protocol's goal of a 5% reduction over the same period; and to the requirement of Assembly Bill 32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, that California-wide greenhouse gas emissions levels in 1990 be achieved by 2020. Governor Schwarzenegger had also ordered in 2005 (under his Executive Order S-3-05) that: by 2010 GHG emissions would be reduced to 2000 levels; by 2020, to 1990 levels; and by 2050, reduced to 80 percent below 1990 levels. SSV's 20% reduction target was announced publicly in April 2003, and a first group of organizations and companies (SSV Partners) officially pledged to join SSV in March 2004 to work toward reaching this ambitious goal.