Palo Alto’s Sustainability Milestones

April 2019

Palo Alto’s Sustainability Milestones

2019 SIP Icons

Earth Day Report on City Council Agenda April 15

Our annual Earth Day Report goes to City Council in a study session on Monday, April 15 at 5 pm that will give the Council and Palo Alto residents the opportunity to review the City and community’s sustainability progress and accomplishments in 2018.

Highlights of the report include:

  • Palo Alto reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions an estimated 56.5 percent from 1990 levels, despite a population increase of 20.4 percent during that same time period.
  • City Municipal Operations reduced GHG emissions 65.8 percent from 2005 levels.
  • Preliminary numbers for FY 18 show that reported Electric Efficiency savings was 5,957 MWh, or 0.63 percent of the City’s total electric use. This is equivalent to the total power used by 946 California homes in a year. The reported FY 18 Gas Efficiency savings was 251,718 therms, or 0.97 percent of the City’s total gas use. The avoided GHG emissions from the gas efficiency savings is equivalent to taking 290 passenger vehicles off the road for a year.
  • Single occupancy vehicle commute trips to downtown Palo Alto continued a downward trend, with drive alone trips reduced 8 percent, transit ridership increased 9 percent, and rideshares increased 4 percent from 2015.
  • The City’s various electric vehicle (EV) adoption programs, strategies, and policies contributed to a steady increase in the number of EVs, with approximately 4,000 EVs (6 percent penetration) registered in Palo Alto. This displaces approximately 9,600 MT CO2e per year. It is estimated that one in seven homes in Palo Alto has an EV and one in three new vehicles (29 percent) in the community is an EV.
  • Per capita water use increased from 2017 to 2018, due to the easing of state-mandated water use reductions. However, the percentage of recycled water use capacity increased 2 percent in the same time period.
  • Council adopted a draft Sea Level Rise Adaptation policy in March 2019.
  • Record tree planting and pruning contributed to increase the value of benefits produced by 36,000 public trees to nearly $18 million annually.
  • Environmental improvement renovations at the new Palo Alto Baylands Golf Course reduced irrigated turf grass by 40 percent (53 acres) and most of the golf course is now watered with 100 percent recycled water.  
  • The City’s waste diversion rate increased from 62 percent in 2007 to 80 percent in 2017.

We hope you can join us in Council Chambers (250 Hamilton St.) or watch on Government Channel 26.

Palo Alto and Sustainability News of interest

Climate Change a 2019 Council Priority

City Council adopted its priorities for 2019 at the annual Council Retreat in February, and selected Climate Change as one of its four priorities for 2019. Grade Separation, Transportation, and Fiscal Sustainability are the other three priorities.

Palo Alto remains a leader in climate and sustainability, and benefits from active community support and participation.

Staff continues to work on implementation of the 2018-2020 Sustainability Implementation Plan. On April 3rd, the Policy and Services Committee accepted a 2019-2020 Sustainability Work Plan, which further refines our sustainability-related projects, and will now go to Council for approval.

April 13 Earth Day and Great Race for Saving Water

Join us for this special event as the City of Palo Alto celebrates its 125th birthday!

Earth Day and Great Race 2016

The day starts off at 9 am at the Palo Alto Baylands Athletic Center with the family-friendly Great Race for Saving Water, a new 10K run plus the original 5K course, and a kids dash to raise awareness about water resources, conservation and environmental health.

Register today, and don’t miss your chance to chase the running toilet!

After the race, join us for a free festival with live music, raffle, electric vehicle ride & drive, nature activities, arts & crafts, zoo animals, outdoor games, environmental and public safety resources, information about upcoming City of Palo Programs (like an induction cook top loaner program)...and much more!

Full event details available at

Efficiency Comes First

Are there areas of your home that are less comfortable than others? Do you live in a home that is more than 20 years old? Want to maximize incentives for your remodel? The Home Efficiency Genie can help!

The Home Efficiency Genie is a Palo Alto Utilities program that provides one-on-one energy and water efficiency advice and expertise.

For more information, contact (650) 713-3411 or visit