City of Palo Alto Leads the Way in Sustainability

City of Palo Alto Leads the Way in Sustainability

Palo Alto, CA (January 12, 2015)— The City of Palo Alto is once again taking a leadership role in its quest to make the city one of the most sustainable in the country. 

The City's Utilities Department (CPAU) just launched a new program that allows its customers to reduce the carbon footprint of their natural gas energy consumption. In keeping with efforts to combat climate change, the new PaloAltoGreen Gas program helps further reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated by the community. 

Since 2013, CPAU has purchased 100% of its electric supply from renewable energy sources including hydroelectric, wind and landfill-to-gas energy resources, drastically reducing the City’s greenhouse gas emissions. 

The PaloAltoGreen Gas program now gives customers an opportunity to offset the carbon emissions associated with their natural gas usage to further lower their carbon footprint.

Through the voluntary PaloAltoGreen Gas, utility customers can pay a small premium on their utility bill each month to offset the carbon emissions associated with their natural gas use. The Green-e Climate Certified program bundles a customer’s regular natural gas purchases with carbon offsets that reduce the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere. Participation in PaloAltoGreen Gas supports carbon offset projects at dairy farms that capture methane from animal manure and then destroy the harmful greenhouse gas by burning it as fuel to produce electricity.

"In 2007, we adopted Palo Alto's Climate Protection Plan that clearly outlined our goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from all sources," said City Manager James Keene. “The PaloAltoGreen Gas program aligns with the plan’s vision, and is the first Green-e Climate certified gas offset program offered by a municipal utility, and the first to be offered to individual community members. This program helps move Palo Alto forward in our goal to become the greenest community in the country."

By participating in the new PaloAltoGreen Gas program, customers will support projects from rural communities throughout the United States that help make the best possible use of a waste product by turning it into a useful carbon offset and environmental good. The City of Palo Alto is choosing to support projects in areas where PaloAltoGreen Gas participants’ dollars make a big difference in building and running the projects.

Green Valley Dairy in Krakow, Wisconsin is an example of a project supported by PaloAltoGreen Gas. The dairy’s management team operates with sustainability in mind and won the 2013 Outstanding Achievement in Renewable Energy award for the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. The dairy uses an anaerobic digester to capture renewable biomethane as the manure breaks down. The biomethane is destroyed when it is burned as fuel to produce electricity.

“Since 2013, Palo Alto has purchased 100% of its electric supplies from renewable energy sources and matches any “brown” market purchases with Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs).” Keene said. “However, there is still a carbon footprint associated with the natural gas we use in Palo Alto and emissions reduction projects are an effective way to offset these emissions.”

Upon enrollment, residents and businesses pay a small additional fee each month to offset the carbon emissions associated with their natural gas use. Participation in PaloAltoGreen Gas costs 12 cents more per therm of natural gas used. That is only about $5 more per month for the average residential household to offset the greenhouse gas emissions associated with 100% of their natural gas use. Local businesses can choose to offset 100% of their emissions at 12 cents per therm or purchase monthly increments of 100-therm blocks for $12 per block.

“As a resident who is conscious about energy conservation and the environment, I wanted to express myself further by choosing a green option for gas,” said Palo Alto resident Earl Dworkin. “I am already an energy efficient customer. For a few dollars a month, why not go green?”

About the City of Palo Alto Utilities (CPAU): The City of Palo Alto is the only municipality in California operating a full suite of utility services. CPAU has been providing quality services to the citizens and businesses of Palo Alto since 1896. For more information about CPAU, visit

About Green-e Climate: Green-e® Climate is an independent certification program for greenhouse gas emissions reductions (carbon offsets) sold in the voluntary market. The Green-e Climate logo identifies carbon offsets that meet the program's high environmental and consumer protection standards. For more information on Green-e Climate certification requirements, visit or email The
greenhouse gas emissions being offset with PaloAltoGreen Gas are those associated with the combustion of natural gas at the point of consumption only, and do not include lifecycle emissions that occur during extraction, production, or delivery.

Last Updated: January 12, 2015