Net Positive Communities
The goal of our Net Positive Communities program is to improve local environments, quality of life, and health in Silicon Valley, with an emphasis on low-income communities. We are actively working in East Palo Alto and East San Jose on a variety of community projects, including: helping low-income residents reduce their energy and water use; identifying landlord incentives for energy efficient upgrades in multi-unit buildings; and developing innovative solutions to decrease poor air quality resulting from pass-through traffic.
Project: Bringing Home the Benefits
SSV is connecting low-income residents in East Palo Alto to existing energy and water saving programs and solar power through bilingual outreach, home audits, and program qualification guidance. The audits we performed on 26 households last year resulted in multiple energy efficient upgrades, including six homes qualifying for solar from Grid Alternatives, that provide a net positive benefit for the environment, along with critical monthly cost savings for these low-income residents. This year our objectives are to: continue our collaborative bilingual outreach; conduct 4-5 additional low-income home audits, re-engage residents of the 26 audited homes who have not signed up for existing services, and assist both new and previously audited residents with the qualification and application processes of existing energy and water efficiency programs and solar power resources; and develop impact measurements on energy and cost savings, as well as subsequent environmental benefits.
Project: Split Incentive in Multi-Family Housing in San José
SSV has identified the split incentive in multifamily housing as one of the greatest barriers to energy efficiency. The ‘split incentive’ refers to the disconnect between landlords and renters– landlords own the buildings and major appliances while renters pay the bills. Through the City Energy Project (ESP), SSV is partnering with the City of San Jose to develop a program that will identify incentives for landlords of multifamily buildings to implement energy efficiency upgrades and renewable energy, without raising rents or evicting tenants, while motivating renters to be energy conscious. To develop the program, SSV and the City of San Jose will hold a series of events with partners and landlords to determine what programs and services will motivate landlords. In 2018, SSV will conduct a pilot project with partners and landlords to implement energy efficiency upgrades in 3-5 multiunit buildings.
Project: Smart Traffic Analytics (SmartTA)
SSV is partnering with Urban Integrated and Greenaction to improve pass-through traffic flow in East Palo Alto with a real-time traffic analytics system that includes air quality sensors and innovative community outreach, such as a public display of the air quality data at the East Palo Alto Library, located in City Hall, and an Environmental Justice Air Quality Leadership Academy for Youth. The project will establish a baseline and provide ongoing measurements for critical factors, such as traffic volume and air quality components, review measurements at regular intervals, and ultimately provide the East Palo Alto Council insight on long-term solutions to the current traffic issues.
When working in a community, SSV has learned that partnerships are the key to success. SSV has formed alliances with:
- Build it Green
- Church of St Francis of Assisi
- City of East Palo Alto
- City of San Jose
- Ecumenical Hunger Program
- Senior Center in East Palo Alto
- East of Palo Alto Senior Center
- Grid Alternatives