San Jose's Green Vision: Six Years In

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Sorters work to remove recyclable materials from trash at one of the city's processing facilities. Photo: City of San Jose

Sorters work to remove recyclable materials from trash at one of the city’s processing facilities. Photo: City of San Jose

When the city of San Jose, Calif., launched its Green Vision in 2007, new mayor Chuck Reed hoped to create an environmental overhaul as part of his lasting legacy. Today, Reed still is mayor of San Jose, and the Green Vision has become one of his most noteworthy accomplishments.

“He wanted stretch goals that would also be relevant,” says Jo Zientek, deputy director of the environmental services department for the city of San Jose. “He wanted the goals to be both economic and sustainable, and the council worked with business leaders to make sure the plan was achievable.”

The 15-year plan was established to “transform San Jose into the world center of clean technology innovation, promote cutting-edge sustainable practices, and demonstrate that the goals of economic growth, environmental stewardship and fiscal responsibility are inextricably linked,” according to the city’s website. The plan adopted by the city council established 10 aggressive goals in the areas of jobs, energy, water, waste, trees and transportation.

Less than halfway into the long-term plan, San Jose is well on target to hit its sustainability goals for 2022, and also has become a model for other cities.

Next page: Setting an Example

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