Students: Aitran Doan and Adam Ellner Partner: City of San José Department of Environmental Services
The City of San José Household Hazardous Waste Program Public Engagement Strategy aims to raise awareness and incentivize San José residents on how to properly dispose of their household hazardous waste materials. Proper disposal of HHW at approved locations will target the goals of urban sustainability, environment protection, and social equity. To contribute to the public outreach efforts, our team worked under the mentorship of City of San Jose Integrated Waste Management to collect data on Santa Clara County residents’ knowledge of household hazardous waste, create an interactive map of retail drop-off sites for HHW, and plant the seed for a potential local partnership for future outreach workshops and efforts.
Students: Nancy Phelps, Clay Ramel, and Arianna Vogel Partner: Bay Area Climate Collaborative and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group
The Bay Area Climate Collaborative (BACC) and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG) approached our team with the goal of constructing an energy profile of Bay Area commercial buildings. This profile sought to identify interest in and opportunities for energy efficient upgrade projects in large commercial buildings.
To inform our project aim, our first task was to perform an extensive literature review. In planning project methodology and implementation, we subsequently elicited the advice experts within the BACC and Stanford University network. Based on this literature review and discussions with experts in the community, we recommended a refined target audience: facilities managers of large office buildings. We chose to collect data via both an online, Qualtrics-based survey and in-depth phone interviews. We selected phone interviews as the second medium due to their ability to gather qualitative, nuanced information. Based on survey responses, the team provided an analysis of trends in two areas: 1) Quantifying current energy efficiency retrofitting trends and (2) Assessing owner interest/buy-in for various energy efficiency retrofits.
Evaluation of the Water Audits of Redwood City Public Works (2012) Project Report
Students: Leslie Chang, Niveen Ismail, Adelaide Oneal Partner: Courtney Rubin (Redwood City Public Works)
The Redwood City Public Works (RWCPW) has been offering free water audits for residential water customers since 1994 in the hopes of encouraging water conservation. The water audit requires 3-4 hours of labor on the part of the city water auditors, and RWCPW would like to optimize their employee’s time. In 2011, RWCPW sent out 1,000 letters to above-average water consumers offering a free water audit. Only 40 customers requested an audit. Our goals for this project were twofold: (1) to use surveys and interviews to understand the reasons customers chose whether or not to participate in the audit, and (2) to analyze existing data on water use to determine the efficacy of the water audit program.
Our process for this project included a review of similar water audit programs; development and distribution of online surveys; phone interviews of audit participants and non-participants; and extensive data analysis of 2006-2011 water consumption. Our analysis of the surveys and interviews revealed that in general, the outdoor portion of the water audit was more helpful for residents than the indoor portion. Nearly all survey respondents and phone interviewees were unaware of the online portal. Many non-participant survey respondents expressed the belief that their water budget is incorrectly calculated.
Students: Todd Branchflower, Emilio Da Costa, Taylor McAdam, Claudia Preciadio, and Jessica Watkins Partner: Justin Ezell (Superintendent, Redwood City Public Works Department)
Our team partnered with the Redwood City Public Works Department to (1) analyze the effectiveness of the budget-based rates program implemented in January 2009 with large landscape irrigation customers and (2) provide recommendations regarding expansion of the budget-based rates program to residential customers. Individualized water budgets have been calculated and provided to large landscape irrigation customers since 2002; however, the City incorporated this concept into a rate structure to combine education with a strong price signal in 2009 to further manage demand. Water conservation is important in Redwood City not only due to weather variability, but also because the City’s only source of potable water is the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and supply is not expected to increase over time.
The project goal was threefold: (1) assess the effectiveness of the existing program, (2) assess customer perceptions and understanding of the existing program, and (3) make recommendations for improving the current program and expanding the program to include residential accounts. We began our investigation in March 2011 and our findings are included in this report.
Home Energy in Redwood City: Case Studies, Best Practices, and Recommendations (2009)
Students: Ashley Carlisle , Annie Read , Chloe Stier, Kelly Wood , Dean Young Partner: Beth Ross (Climate Protection Specialist, Redwood City) Student Produced Introductory Video
The Home Energy Group looked at ways to encourage home energy conservation in Redwood City. Recommendations include Climate Action Groups, a resident team-based program that aims to empower residents through education and behavioral change to reduce their carbon emissions. Our team also recommended improvements to the Redwood City Verde site, running a competition that motivates residents to reduce energy use could be held between residents within their neighborhoods, and implementing outreach strategies to inform the public about how to get involved in the Climate Action Plan and the progress of the city’s efforts.