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.
SSV is part of the Fossil Free Building Coalition along with Menlo Spark, 350 Silicon Valley, Acterra, Carbon Free Silicon Valley, and many others working hard to advance REACH Codes, amendments above and beyond standard building codes, designed to drastically lower carbon emissions and improve air quality in buildings. Menlo Park was one of the first and the City of Burlingame recently became the 31st jurisdiction in California to adopt a REACH code for major rebuilds (more than 50% of building value) for existing building remodels to new building standards.
Project: The Multi-Family Housing Split Incentive 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 José 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 multi-unit buildings.
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.