Innovating for a Cleaner and Greener Silicon Valley

The Environmental Innovation Center in San Jose, CA lives up to its name in many different ways.   

The building – which was a wax paper factory – has been transformed into a showcase of sustainability.  It boasts three types of porous pavement that allows rain water to easily infiltrate the soil below, solar panels and wind turbines to produce energy, and an advanced irrigation system that uses satellite technology to monitor the need to water the drought-resistant landscaping. The site features indoor compostable toilets, LED lighting and walls of reclaimed wood. Even the public art is made from salvaged materials which collect and recycle rainwater to nourish olive trees planted nearby.

The center’s three tenants share a commitment to discovering economic and environmental solutions that benefit the community. Housed at the San Jose facility are:

  • Habitat for Humanity ReStore: A building materials store and donation center that provides shoppers with the opportunity to purchase, at low cost, re-purposed or excess home improvement and building
    materials. On the opening day, goods for sale included a set of furniture, a bathroom vanity, and painting supplies. The best news is that all proceeds benefit Habitat for Humanity’s mission to build affordable housing.
  • Household Hazardous Waste Program: A center for the county’s residents and small businesses to drop off hazardous waste – including paint, batteries, and computers for appropriate recycling.
  • Prospect Silicon Valley: A project, funded in part by Applied Materials, to accelerate the demonstration, validation and commercialization of innovative green technologies. The center which will be home to as many as 20-30 companies during a year includes shop space, meeting rooms, shared tools, and the potential of new enterprises adding environmentally-friendly jobs to San Jose.

The Environmental Innovation Center which the City of San Jose has been working on since 2006 demonstrates the power of creativity and collaboration to address local needs. And, it is well aligned with San José’s Green Vision goals which include diverting waste from landfills, creating clean tech jobs, and retrofitting buildings to be green.

The next time you are in the Valley, check out this “green enterprise” facility that houses services for both residents and clean tech entrepreneurs!

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