From Gold to Green: Fremont’s Journey to Sustainability
Baked into Fremont’s agricultural past is a deep connection to the environment.
You may or may not remember your fourth grade teacher’s lectures on California history, so we’ll help you out à la CliffsNotes.
While the gold fields in the Sierra Nevada Mountains drew many hopefuls to the Fremont area to buy supplies, this chapter was quite literally a flash in the pan on the pages of our City’s history. Agriculture sustained our community for the long haul, with citizens growing olives, grapes, and nursery plants to earn a living.
Today, Fremont is fertile ground for clean tech companies. Solar City, Gridscape, NexTracker, and Soraa are just a few of the more than 50 clean- and greentech companies that have taken root in Fremont’s Warms Springs Innovation District.
It’s no wonder why, with a bountiful mix of flexible space, comparatively low rents, engineering talent, and proximity to venture-capital funds.
Fremont isn’t new to cultivating business growth.
We know it takes time to get settled, hire the right team, file for patents, etc. To make it even easier to grow your clean tech business here, we offer five-year tax exemptions for new businesses and two-year exemptions for existing companies.
Fremont even makes it easier for existing businesses to go green. Take for example local company Sonic Manufacturing. With the help of the City’s fast-tracked permitting process, Sonic Manufacturing was able to take full advantage of the ROI on retrofitting its manufacturing facility for zero net energy.
Whether we’re supporting companies or building an entire Downtown District from scratch, we stand by the practice of sustainability. In fact, our award-winning General Plan envisions Fremont “as a national model of how an auto-oriented suburb can evolve into a sustainable, strategically urban, modern city.”
When planning our new Downtown District, we thought about every detail from reclaimed, renewable, LEED-certified building materials to how vegetation would be watered resourcefully (filtered stormwater planters, if you were curious).
Not only do we want to build with the right supplies, we also want to develop Downtown’s footprint in a way that supports sustainable lifestyles. The streets will accommodate all modes of transportation, from pedestrians, bicyclists, public transportation, and vehicles.
Speaking of getting around town, Fremont’s 94539 ZIP code is already home to more electric vehicle (EV) drivers than any other ZIP code in California.
To play to that strength, we have installed 17 dual port EV charging stations throughout the City, further encouraging the transition to EVs and decreasing community greenhouse gas emissions.
Another light-bulb moment for the City (this time literally) was the decision to replace over 16,000 streetlights, park lights, and facility lights with LED fixtures.
This plan will save the City over 4.5 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually and help us achieve our Climate Action Plan goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent from 2005 levels by the year 2020.
The City is also raising the roof on clean energy with its solar-powered carports. Between the Robert A. Wasserman Police Complex, Aqua Adventure Water Park, Irvington Community Center, and Maintenance Services Center, Fremont boasts over 1.5 megawatts of solar power that can generate 2.3 million kilowatt-hours of local renewable electricity annually.
Demonstrating our innovation around renewables, the City forged a public-private partnership with Gridscape Solutions to install three solar and storage microgrid energy systems on Fremont Fire Stations, providing them with greenhouse-gas free electricity daily as well as stored power in the event of utility outages.
But green initiatives don’t have to be groundbreaking to make a huge impact. The Fremont Green Challenge provides residents with an engaging online platform for taking individual actions to improve our collective impact. Choices made by you, innovative solutions created by the companies right in our own backyard, and citywide conservation plans all produce a healthier, more sustainable Fremont.