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April 1, 2014 > Silicon Valley City Drives Down The Road Toward Sustainability

Silicon Valley City Drives Down The Road Toward Sustainability

By Rachel DiFranco, Sustainability Coordinator

(The following is an abridged version of Rachel DiFranco's article, which posted on CleanTechnica on March 20, 2014. For the full article please go to http://cleantechnica.com/2014/03/20/silicon-valley-city-drives-road-toward-sustainability/).

The City of Fremont has made a number of local headlines this month for reports on the high number of electric vehicle owners living within its boundaries. With a population of 221,986, Fremont holds 14.3 percent of Alameda CountyÕs 1,554,720 residents.1 But with 3,870 electric vehicle rebates issued in Alameda County since 2010 under the California Clean Vehicle Rebate Program, Fremont, with its 1,143 rebates to date, represents 29.4 percent of all-electric vehicles owned within the County.2

The reason for the heightened media attention is that many people were surprised that this southern Alameda County suburb could be Òthe East BayÕs epicenter for electric vehicles,Ó questioning, ÒWhat makes it so special?Ó The news of increasing EV ownership in Fremont, however, is less of a surprise to those responsible for City development. As the CityÕs deputy director of Community Development, Dan Schoenholz, stated when pointing out that a slightly larger number of electric vehicle rebates had been issued in Fremont than in San Francisco, ÒSan Francisco has the reputation for being a super-green city, but this shows that Fremont is quietly pushing the envelope.Ó

The story, in fact, fits nicely into the future vision that the City has created for itself. This is a future of sustainable urbanism, one in which Fremont has evolved beyond its early agricultural roots and post-war suburban sprawl into a center for clean technology, a mecca of cultural diversity, and the home of eco-conscious citizens. The City of Fremont continues to challenge the conventional model of development with an alternative one that places the health and well-being of future generations at the forefront of policy-making.

The influx of electric vehicles in Fremont, then, is one piece of the CityÕs larger sustainability puzzle, helping to address the 58 percent of community-wide emissions attributable to the transportation sector alone.

Of course, a discussion of electric vehicles in Fremont would not be complete without mention of Tesla, one of the most recognized electric vehicle manufacturers worldwide, whose Model S manufacturing facility is located at the former NUMMI plant in FremontÕs Warm Springs District. But Tesla is not the only clean tech company that calls Fremont home; there are more than 30 clean and green tech firms in Fremont, including Oorja (fuel cells), Solaria (solar cells), Leyden Energy (lithium ion batteries), Imergy Power Systems (energy storage), and Soraa (LEDs). With such a thriving clean tech economy in its own backyard, Fremont has earned its title of ÒSilicon Valley EastÓ.

So while electric vehicles are indeed helping to drive Fremont toward sustainability, they are just one of the many methods of getting there.

1. Based on 2012 estimates from the US Census Bureau: http://quickfacts.census.gov/
2.. Statistics from the California Center for Sustainable Energy, Clean Vehicle Rebate Project as of March 9, 2014: http://energycenter.org/clean-vehicle-rebate-project/cvrp-project-statistics

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