Several initiatives demonstrate the district’s leadership and commitment to reducing their carbon footprint and educating customers and the community on climate change issues and resource conservation.  These include:

Click on the tabs below to learn more about the District’s best practices.

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Tracking GHG Emissions and Savings

As part of its Quality and Environmental Management System, the District tracks greenhouse gas emissions and accounts for its mitigation activities. 

To understand its carbon footprint and to track progress reducing it, the District follows The Climate Registry’s reporting rules for Scope 1 and most Scope 2 emissions as specified by the General Reporting Protocols.The District has been tracking greenhouse gas emissions through this framework since 2006.  Recently the District started tracking business travel and daily commuting-related emissions, which fall under Scope 3 from the General Reporting Protocols. Emissions for the District’s vehicle fleet have been reduced by 15% since 2006 as a result of right-sizing, adding over 20 hybrid cars, and minimizing idling. Additionally the District has reduced business travel related emissions by 50%; emissions from daily commuting have been reduced by 10% after the implementation of an alternative work schedule.

The District reports the energy savings and emissions reductions from its water conservation and recycling programs through its Watts to Water Report. The report tracks savings since 1992. Linking energy, GHGs, and criteria pollutant emissions to water conservation requires an in-depth analysis of the energy intensity of water operations. Each acre-foot of water conserved saves 1,544 kWh while each acre-foot of water recycled saves 850 kWh.

The District has been tracking GHG reductions resulting from water conservation and recycled water efforts since 1992.

The District is also preparing to play its part in any cap and trade system established at the state or federal level. It has researched how to account for carbon sequestration and mitigation attributable to restoring wetlands and riparian habitats, one of the District’s ongoing initiatives. The District is currently using a report published by the EPA as a source for carbon sequestration rates and additional guidance.  By understanding the carbon value of these projects, the District can plan more effectively and become an offset provider in the cap and trade market.

Climate Change Portal
The District’s Climate Change Portal includes tools and information to educate employees and the public, including a map on the local impacts of sea level rise.
Climate Change Portal

The District operates a Climate Change Portal that started off as a tool to disseminate the most recent information on climate change impacts and mitigation and adaption strategies to internal employees. As part of the Quality and Environmental Management System, all divisions of the District were instructed to consider climate change mitigation and adaptation as well as resource efficiency in all projects. The portal centralizes the most up-to-date climate change information to ensure all divisions and levels have equal access to the best available information to inform their decisions. 

The portal has grown to reach audiences well beyond the District. It ranks among the top five climate change portals in Google searches. It’s now a tool for the District to engage the community and inform the public on the importance of climate change, water supply, conservation, environmental stewardship, and flood protection issues for the future. 

The portal offers information on how climate change will affect sea level rise, groundwater availability, and infrastructure asset management. One of its educational features is an interactive Google map illustrating sea level rise in Santa Clara County.  The portal’s blog keeps its readers up to date on climate related issues in the news. 

inflatable dam
A district staff person provides water saving tips to a homeowner during a Water Wise House Call.
Water Wise House Call

One of the District’s many efficiency programs is the Water-Wise House Call, a free water use survey in which a member of the District’s staff comes to a customer’s home and identifies water savings opportunities. Conducting a house call involves calculating water use, teaching homeowners to read water meters, surveying the irrigation system, and showing homeowners simple ways to save water both indoors and out. Homeowners receive a prioritized list so they can start using water as efficiently as possible and help meet the District’s voluntary 10% residential water savings goal.

The District developed a video of a virtual Water-Wise House Call to educate customers.  During a house call a surveyor will:

  • Replace leaking toilet flapper valves
  • Measure showerhead flow rates and install free showerheads
  • Measure faucet flow rates and provide faucet aerators for kitchens and bathrooms
  • Evaluate the efficiency of irrigation systems
  • Provide homeowners with a personalized irrigation schedule
  • Identify irrigation leaks, broken or mismatched sprinkler heads, high water pressure, and other common problems
  • Provide additional tips on water saving actions