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Our Path to Sustainability

Together, we’ve made Palo Alto a world leader in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However, our efforts don't end with the use of 100% carbon neutral electricity and natural gas. To meet Palo Alto's GHG emission goals, we need to continue to prioritize efficiency, reduce single-occupancy-vehicle travel, and consider switching to electric vehicles and high-efficiency electric appliances.


Even with clean sources and offsets, using energy still has environmental impacts. The state has ranked efficiency as the top priority to minimize the environmental impacts of our energy use. (See
California's Energy Action Plan from 2003.)

Using electricity efficiently reduces your costs and helps ensure that we can continue to meet electricity demand with carbon neutral supply as more people switch to electric vehicles and high-efficiency electric appliances. Using natural gas efficiently also helps keep your costs down, while moving us away from fossil fuels.

The City's Utilities Department has many programs to help residents and businesses improve their energy efficiency.

Home Efficiency Genie: A concierge service for all things home efficiency, offering free expert advice, discounted home energy assessments, and free efficiency products.
Green Living Resources: A guide to CPAU's programs and rebates for energy efficiency.
Commercial/Industrial Programs and Rebates

Reducing Emissions from Remaining Fossil Fuels

Gasoline and natural gas are the major fossil fuels that Palo Alto uses. After Palo Alto began sourcing all of its electricity from renewable and hydroelectric sources in 2013, the majority of its carbon emissions were associated with road transport and natural gas use.

GHG Emissions pie chart


Road transport makes up the largest percentage of Palo Alto's remaining carbon emissions. The City is already a leader in electric vehicle ownership, accounting for one percent of all EV sales in the state (about 2,500 cars).

Electric Vehicles in Palo Alto
EV Chargers in Homes—Resources
EV Chargers for Organizations—Rebates

In Palo Alto, we believe we must go beyond carbon neutral natural gas. Advancements in electric space heating, water heating, and other devices have made switching to high-efficiency electric appliances more compelling than ever.

Learn more:
Heat Pump Water Heater Pilot
Sustainability / Climate Action Plan
(see page 24)