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pre vs. post

Post consumer is the stuff that you throw in your recycle bin that gets made back into paper.

Food Waste

In cities where food waste collection services are offered to commercial or multi-family accounts, food waste collection may be required for Green Business certification.

Landscape Waste

Only required where curbside pickup is available and where the business is not composting onsite.

The Offset Project

The Offset Project is the preferred local non-profit organization to offset your business' transportation and energy emissions.  All renewable energy credits go toward local renewable energy projects that benefits schools and non-profit organizations.  For more information, visit .

Recycled Paper

It is often difficult to find paper that is 100% recycled, with greater than 50% coming from post-consumer waste.

What is post-consumer waste?  This is paper that has been paper, been written on, and placed in a recycle bin for reuse.  Often, paper will be listed as 100% recycled, but they are using wood shavings or industrial waste.  This is not recycled, merely good use of resources.

Palace Arts is a local Green Business that has expertise in recycled paper and can assist you to find the best-priced recycled content paper.

What is Post-Consumer Waste?

It is often difficult to find paper that is 100% recycled, with greater than 50% coming from post-consumer waste.

What is post-consumer waste?  This is paper that has been paper, been written on, and placed in a recycle bin for reuse.  Often, paper will be listed as 100% recycled, but they are using wood shavings or industrial waste.  This is not recycled, merely good use of resources.

Palace Arts is a local Green Business that has expertise in recycled paper and can assist you to find the best-priced recycled content paper.

Janitorial Floor Sink

Ensure that your custodians are dumping mop water indoors.  To make it easy, install a floor sink for them to discharge the mop water.  This will ensure the dirty water gets treated instead of going straight to the Bay.

Landscape Waste

Landscape waste can either be collected curbside, composted onsite, or through a landscape company.

Recycling Resources

Visit Take a minute to explore this website! It has terrific
resources, such as where to dispose of certain materials and how to find
re-used goods.

Less Toxic Cleaning Resources

When evaluating or choosing new cleaning products, some good resources include:

  • Look for a 3rd party product certification. Three that you can rely on include: Green Seal, EcoLogo and Design for the Environment.
  • City of San Francisco’s  Department of the Environment has evaluated a wide range of products. Go to:
  • For cleaning in the office kitchen, washing dishes, and hand sanitizers, here's an info source:
  • Some local vendors, such as Give Something Back, Radston's and Blaisdell's, can assist with 'green' choices.
  • For the office kitchen, look for manufacturers such as Seventh Generation, Bio-Kleen and Ecover.
  • Avoid hand soaps and dishwashing liquid labeled “antibacterial”.
  • Some local vendors, such as Give Something Back, Radston's,, and Blaisdell's can assist with 'green' choices.

Organics Waste Requirement

Food waste collection for off site composting is required in cities with food waste collection services. Set up collection services with your waste hauler.

Leaking Dumpster

Please report a leaking dumpster to Waste Management so it can be repaired or replaced, (310) 830-7100. 

Keep Dumpsters Covered

If your dumpster lid is broken or missing, please call Waste Management for replacement, (310) 830-7100.

Pre-Rinse Sprayers

Pre-rinse sprayers are available for free from for a limited time to qualified customers.


Lighting is often the most-effective way to reduce energy demand, and the incentives make the changes an even better deal. In almost all tenant/landlord relationships, the tenant has a good degree of control over the lighting. Therefore, many energy requirements may be on the lighting side. The San Francisco Green Business Program is well ahead of the curve: we do not allow incandescent lighting for use in recognized green businesses, except when used for spot lighting in a retail environment. There is talk of outlawing incandescent lighting in the state, so now is a good time to get started.

How to document: Save and scan all receipts of compact florescent lamps, cold cathode lamps and other efficient lighting purchases. Also, have spare bulbs and lamps ready for auditors so they don’t have to inspect installed fixtures.

Problem Wastes

The following are hazardous (sometime called universal) wastes, and must be recycled, not put in the regular garbage:

¨        Spent fluorescent light tubes.

¨        Electronics (computers, cell phones, etc.).

¨        Batteries

Contact your county's Household Hazardous Waste or Small Quantity Hazardous Waste Generator Program, or ask your Green Business Coordinator about proper disposal.

Recycled Content Paper

How many reams of paper do you buy annually?
What is the recycled content of the paper?

Household Hazardous Waste

Properly dispose of any hazardous waste generated by your business; i.e. cleaners, fluorescent light tubes and bulbs, batteries, electronics, chemicals, oil, gasoline, glues and adhesives.

a.       If your business generates no more than 27 gallons or 220 pounds or hazardous waste per month, then your business qualifies as a Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generator (CESQG) and can recycle your hazardous waste at the City of Ventura’s monthly collection event on the third Saturday of each month. Call 805-652-4525 for more information.

b.      If your business is a large quantity generator, you must have a licensed hazardous waste hauler remove and properly dispose of those items.

c.       Ensure all employees are trained on which hazardous materials are used.


Printing on previously used paper can save your business money on paper costs and reduce your carbon footprint. Keep a stack of GOOS (Good On One Side) paper to print anything that requires less than a page.

How to Document: Take pictures of each one of your GOOS bins.

Waste Assessment

Call Lars Davenport at (805) 652-4595 to schedule your free waste assessment.

Energy Star

When replacing old equipment, new equipment must be ENERGY STAR.


Effective July 1, 2012, all businesses that generate more than four cubic yards of trash a week or more are required to have recycling as well. This is stated in Assembly Bill (AB)341.

Transportation Services

Commute Solutions offers transportation services such as assistance with carpooling, vanpooling, busing and Ridesurance transportation in the event of an emergency.
Contact Commute Solutions at 831-429-POOL or at

Ecology Action offers emergency ride home services to member businesses with small annual fee along with discount bus passes and no interest bicycle loans.
Contact Piet Canin at 831-426-5925 ext. 127 or at

Transportation Services

Transportation Services for Santa Cruz County

Commute Solutions offers transportation services such as assistance with carpooling, vanpooling, busing, and "Ridesurance" in case of an emergency.  Contact Commute Solutions at 831-429-POOL, or

Ecology Action offers Emergency Ride Home services to member businesses for a small annual fee, along with discount bus passes and no-interest bicycle loans.  Contact Piet Canin at 831-426-5925 x127, or

Waste disposal

Contact the Alameda County Household Hazardous Waste Small Business program for details on disposing of small quantities of hazardous waste. Please note that waste from both commercial and residential property management firms is considered commercial, NOT household hazardous waste.

Junk Mail

You may also sign up at to stop junk mail and phone books.

Changes in your water bill

Call 805-667-6500 if you notice anything unusual in your water bill; you may have a leak and not know it.

Quick Tip

Think about saving old envelops, packaging, and shipping peanuts to use in your next shipment or letter.

Make sure to let everyone know you are being green!  Label your envelop "Reused and Recycled Envelop!"

Electronic Forms

The average office worker discards more than 175 lbs. of high grade paper per year.  Businesses use 2 million tons of paper in copiers each year!

Low Flow Toilets

NOTE:  Replacement of toilet is required for proper water efficient flushing.  Partial "fixes" and retrofits to toilets are not acceptable.

Toilets shall not exceed the federal code of 1.6 gallons per flush (EPAct 1992, EPAct 2005).  Any replacement toilet shall comply with San Francisco Plumbing Code of 1.28 gallons per flush or less. (City and County of San Francisco Plumbing Code, Chapter 4: Plumbing Fixtures and Fixture Fittings).

SFPUC currently offers a $125 rebate per tank style toilet and $300 rebate per flushometer valve style toilet to switch to high efficiency toilets.

Print Double Sided

Set all company computers to print default double-sided. You will save resources and money by reducing the amount of paper used. You can also instruct staff to use size reduction features or print multiple pages per sheet to further reduce paper consumption.

            Windows: Control Panel à Printers and Faxes - Right click on the desired printer - Select Printing Preferences…- In the Document Options area of the Finishing tab, check the box labeled “Print on Both Sides”

Low Flow Toilets

Our partners at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission offer businesses rebates for low flow toilets.  Please visit their page here

All San Francisco Green Businesses must use toilets with 1.6 gallons or less flush volume. ULFTs and HETs are approved for use.

ULFT's: In 1994 new water conserving toilets, called ultra-low-flush toilets (ULFT's) were required in all new construction. ULFT's use 1.6 gallons per flush and are much more water efficient than older toilets, which use up to 7 gallons per flush. Each installed ULFT can save a typical family 70 gallons a day in water use.

A number of commercial ULFTs are available in a range of rough-in sizes and shapes. Both wall-mount and floor-mount 1.6 gallon per flush toilets are readily available. The efficiency of a Flushometer and bowl combination toilet depends mainly upon the right combination and regular maintenance of the flushometer valve.

HET's: High-Efficiency toilets (HET) are fairly new to the American market but have long been used overseas. The HET flushes at least 20% below the standard model. Many HET's are dual-flush toilets, which have two separate flush volume options, a half flush (.8 gallons) and a full flush (1.6 gallons).

SFPUC currently offers a $125 rebate for replacing your pre-1994 water-guzzling toilet with an approved tank-style HET.

There are several industrial flushometer HET's on the market, and over a dozen have passed performance standards set by the CUWCC (California Urban Water Conservation Council). SFPUC offers financial incentives of up to $200 per fixture for installing qualifying flushometer valve/bowl combinations.

How to document: Take a picture of all toilets and each flow rate (this usually can be found on the base near the hinges of the seat – see picture below):

Power Management

Computers are serious energy consumers, especially considering the amount of time they sit unused while you are at a meeting, lunch, or even home for the evening. Many people assume that the screen savers indicate that the computer is in low power mode, but in fact there is little savings. Still others believe that turning the computer off and on uses more energy. Neither is true. In order to ensure that your systems are powered down, take the following steps:

  • Windows: Look under Start window, then Settings, then control panels, then power management. From here decide how long the computer would wait until turning off the monitor (mine is set at 10 minutes) and the CPU (mine is set at 30 minutes).
  • Apple system: go to ‘System Preferences' à ‘Energy Saver' à ‘Sleep'. From here you can either set a threshold for the entire system (monitor and CPU) or for each component separately. For the green business program, monitors should sleep after 15 minutes, and CPUs after 30 minutes. If you are a very large business with an IT manager dedicated to installing software through the network, consider network power management. SF Environment can provide more information on these tools.

There are rebates available through SF Energy Watch for network-enabled computer power management.

Vending Machine Sensors

Using a motion or occupancy sensor on vending machines allows the machine on enter standby mode and turn display lights off until a customer approaches the machine. Placing vending machines in the shade is more efficient in terms of the amount of cooling required over a location in direct sunlight.

How to document: Save and scan receipts from all motion sensor purchases. Also, take a picture of the installed sensor.

Efficient Lighting

The SF Green Business program allows no T12 lamps or magnetic ballasts, and the City of San Francisco will soon outlaw them as well. The T12/magnetic ballast combination uses more energy, has higher levels of toxic materials, and puts out less light. Get rid of these systems before it's too late!

Replacing T-12 (1.5” diameter) fluorescent lighting with T-8 (1” diameter) or T-5 lamps (5/8” diameter) can save over 20 kWh per lamp per year and provide similar, if not better lighting. T-8 and T-8 lamps typically use more efficient electronic ballasts, which also provide considerable savings over traditional magnetic ballasts used with T-12 lamps.

            How to document: Save and scan receipts from all T-8 and T-5 purchases, electronic ballast purchases and installation service records.

Exit Signs

The San Francisco green business program requires that energy efficient exit signs be used in businesses seeking certification. It is sometimes difficult to tell which kind you have without opening the sign. Look for a strip of tiny red or green lights to indicate that you have an LED sign, one or two two-pin bulbs that indicate you have an incandescent sign, or two bulbs that look like compact fluorescents to indicate a CFL sign. The incandescent bulbs are usually 15-25 W each, and are labeled as such.

Lighting Controls

For spaces with variable occupancy, like restrooms, conference, rooms, storage rooms, hotel bathrooms, and lockers, consider using occupancy sensors. When doing a survey of your facility's energy use, look for places where lights are on and no one is home. If these are spaces that are empty for long periods and have short bursts of use, they could be a good fit for an occupancy sensor. There are many options for the sensors: most used in commercial settings have a sensor integrated into the switch. In guest bathrooms, you might use a sensor with an integrated LED nightlight, so that guests don't have to leave the light on in order to find their way to the restroom at night. For spaces with one owner (like a private office) it is simpler and cheaper to educate the users to turn off lights themselves.

How to document: Take pictures/video of installed occupancy sensors.


BPI (Biodegradable Products Institute) certified bags are compostable by scientifically based standards that ensure they will biodegrade in large composting facilities. Other products labeled “biodegradable” may not decompose as fast as organic material and will be left intact in otherwise useable compost.

How to document: Save and scan all receipts of BPI Certified Compostable Products purchases.

Zero Waste Catering

Use only durable dishes, both at your facility and for events. Demonstrate your environmental commitment to reduce energy and natural resource consumption, and reduce ongoing financial costs of disposable food ware.

For restaurants with take-out containers and cutlery see the Environmentally Preferable Purchasing section below. Absolutely no polystyrene (Styrofoam) can be used in your business according to a
City-wide ban.

HVAC maintenance

If you are in a larger building, the maintenance contract must include maintenance of any economizers and specify two maintenance visits per year (we will need to see a copy of this contract). For smaller buildings, replace disposable filters (or clean permanent ones) every 6 months (do so every 3-4 months if there is significant amount of dirt). This must be done by either you or your landlord.

Printer Defaults

If your business cannot change the defaults on printers, you can ensure that employees are printing on both sides of the page manually (print odd pages, return to printer, then print even pages).


This does not have to be a team.  You can select one person as the sustainable liaison or coordinator for the organization.

Junk Mail Tips

Manage incoming and outgoing mail by completing any of the following: eliminate unwanted mailings by calling sender’s 800 number or writing “refused” on first class mail, eliminate duplicate mailings and subscriptions by returning labels to the sender requesting that all but one be removed, for bulk mail request removal of name and write “refused” on first class mail, purge your own mailing lists to eliminate duplication, re-use envelopes you have received by covering up the old address and postage, and affixing new information.

PCW Paper

Purchasing post consumer waste (PCW) paper products can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions over new paper production.

Each ream of 100% PCW purchased paper saves about 31 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions over 0% PCW paper.         

How to Document: Upload pictures of packaging, or receipts and invoices showing PCW paper purchase.

Types of Polymers

#1 PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) – This plastic is used in soft drink bottles and other blow-molded containers, 

strapping, molding compounds, and food and non food containers. (American Plastics Council, adapted from Modern Plastics Encyclopedia, 1995.) Fizzy drink bottles, oven-ready meal trays and water bottles


#2 HDPE (High-density polyethylene) – Examples include milk jugs, juice bottles, film (trash bags, agricultural film, T-shirts, bags), trash cans, and toys. (American Plastics Council, adapted fromModern Plastics Encyclopedia, 1995)

Milk bottles, detergent bottles, yogurt and margarine tubs, cereal box liners and grocery, trash and retail bags


#3 PVC (Polyvinyl chloride) – Vinyl products can be broadly divided into rigid and flexible materials. Rigid applications, accounting for 60 percent of total vinyl production, are concentrated in construction markets, which include pipe and fittings, siding, carpet backing, and windows. Bottles and packaging sheet are also major rigid markets. Flexible vinyl is used in wire and cable insulation, film and sheet, floor coverings, synthetic leather products, coatings, blood bags, medical tubing and many other applications. (American Plastics Council, adapted fromModern Plastics Encyclopedia, 1995).


#4 LDPE (Low-density polyethylene) – Dry cleaning bags, produce bags, trash can liners, bread bags, frozen food bags and squeezable bottles, such as mustard and honey


#5 PP (Polypropylene) – is found in everything from flexible and rigid packaging to fibers and large molded parts for automotive and consumer products. (Adapted from Modern Plastics Encyclopedia, 1995; Plastic Packaging Opportunities and Challenges, American Plastics Council, 1992.) Ketchup bottles, medicine bottles, aerosol caps and drinking straws


#6 PS (Polystyrene) – Typical applications include protective packaging, containers, lids, cups, bottles, trays and tumblers ("Plastic Packaging Opportunities and Challenges," American Plastics Council, 1992).

#7 Other - Three- and five-gallon reusable water bottles, certain kinds of food containers and Tupperware, everything else.

AEP website

Post to the website to post and further advertise your facility. Display your certificate and window decal in a location readily visible to the public.

Reduce your transportation GHG emissions by 5%

  • Change the oil as recommended by manufacturer and use the specified oil range. Because the oil is in contact with moving parts of the engine, thicker oil will slow those parts down and decrease fuel economy and thinner oil leads to faster wear and shorted vehicle life. As oil gets dirty, it gets thicker and does not lubricate well, so your vehicle will get poor mileage and more wear on the engine.
  • Keep tires properly inflated. Under-inflated tires increase resistance and decrease fuel economy. Overinflated tires wear more and will need to be replaced sooner.
  • Drive sensibly and obey the speed limit. Aggressive driving is not only unsafe, it wastes gas and takes a toll on your vehicle. Accelerate slowly and use the engine to slow your vehicle down instead of using your brakes. When your foot is not on the gas but the car is in gear, it is using the kinetic energy to move the car rather than the chemical energy of combustion. The longer you can keep your foot off the accelerator, the less gas you will use.
  • Remove excess weight from your vehicle. The more your car weighs, the more energy is required to move it.
  • Do not idle. Idling achieves you zero miles to the gallon.
  • Planning your trips well can save a lot of time and money. Combining errands and driving outside of rush hours are a great way to drive less. Catalytic converters work best when they are warm, so many short trips when the car is cold produces very poor emissions.

Appendix A and Appendix B

Appendix A

Medical Waste Management Act, Health and Safety Code

Pharmaceutical Waste

 ·         Section 118275 (g) Pharmaceutical Waste must be placed in a container labeled “INCINERATION ONLY”. Both sharps non-sharps approved pharmaceutical waste containers are available through your medical waste hauler.

·         Containers with less than 3% of original total volume are considered as either holding trace amounts or empty. These containers can be placed in the regular trash (please note, this does not apply to RCRA hazardous wastes)

·         Small amounts of liquid pharmaceutical wastes may be dumped on a special absorbent pad placed inside a pharmaceutical waste container -- the empty syringe may then be disposed of in sharps container or empty vial disposed of in the regular trash. If the needle is removed (must be placed in a sharps container) from the empty syringe the latter may be discarded in the trash.

Contact your Medical Waste Hauler to obtain absorbent pads.

·         118280(e) Dispose of full containers within 90 days, and remove at least once a year.

Hazardous Wastes (RCRA)

·         Certain pharmaceuticals (i.e. expired crash cart meds and unused chemotherapy) meet guidelines for ignitability, corrosivity, toxicity, or flammability and are hazardous wastes under the Federal Resource Recovery and Conservation Act (RCRA). These wastes and empty containers MUST be segregated from pharmaceutical waste. Large quantity generators (100 kg or more per month) must obtain a Federal EPA ID number and have the waste picked up by a Federally approved Hazardous Waste hauler. Small quantity generators must obtain a Cal EPA ID from the California Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC) and may drop their hazardous waste off at their local Household Hazardous Waste Collection Sites for a fee.

Useful web links:

County of Santa Cruz Household Hazardous Waste Drop-off center

California Department of Toxic Substance Control:


Appendix B – Medical Waste Definitions

CA Health and Safety Code Section 117700 NOT Medical Waste:

(c)        Urine, feces, saliva, sputum, nasal secretions, sweat, tears, or vomitus, unless it contains fluid blood, as provided in subdivision (d) of Section 117635.

(d)        Waste which is not biohazardous, such as paper towels, paper products, articles containing non-fluid blood, and other medical solid waste products commonly found in the facilities of medical waste generators.

(d)        Hazardous waste, radioactive waste, or household waste, including, but not limited to, home-generated sharps waste, as defined in Section 117671

Section 117635 Biohazardous Wastes Defined:

(d)        Waste…containing recognizable fluid blood, fluid blood products, containers or equipment containing blood that is fluid, or blood from animals known to be infected with diseases which are highly communicable to humans

(e) Waste containing discarded materials contaminated with excretion, exudates, or secretions from humans or animals that are required to be isolated by the infection control staff, the attending physician, and surgeon…veterinarian, or the local health officer, to protect others from highly communicable diseases….

(f)        (2)….chemotherapeutic agent means an agent that kills or prevents the reproduction of malignant cells.

(3)…a container, or inner liner, removed from a container, which previously contained a  chemotherapeutic agent, is empty if the container or inner liner removed from the container has been emptied by the generator as much as possible, using methods commonly employed to remove waste or material from containers or liners, so that the following conditions are met:

(A) If the material which the container or inner liner held is pourable, no material can be poured or drained from the container or inner liner when held in any orientation, including, but not limited to, when tilted or inverted.

(B) If the material which the container or inner liner held is not pourable, no material or waste remains in the container or inner liner that can feasibly be removed by scraping.

(g) Waste that is hazardous only because it is comprised of pharmaceuticals, as defined in Section 11747. Notwithstanding subdivision (a) of Section 117690, medical waste includes biohazardous waste that meets the conditions of this subdivision. Biohazardous waste that meets the conditions of this subdivision is not subject to Chapter 6.5 (commencing with Section 25100) of Division 20

Section 117690 - Medical Waste:

(a) “Medical waste” means waste which meets both of the following requirements:

(1) The waste is composed of waste which is generated or produced as a result of any of the following actions:

(A) Diagnosis, treatment, or immunization of human beings or


(B) Research pertaining to (A) above.

(C) Production or testing of biologicals.

(D) The accumulation of properly contained home-generated sharps waste that is brought by a patient, a member of the patient’s family, or by a person authorized by the enforcement agency, to a point of consolidation approved by the enforcement agency pursuant to Section 117904 or authorized pursuant to Section 11847.

(2) The waste is either of the following:

(A) Biohazardous Waste.

(B) Sharps Waste.

Section 118275 (g) Pharmaceutical Waste must be placed in a container labeled “INCINERATION

ONLY”. Both sharps non-sharps approved pharmaceutical waste containers are available through your medical waste hauler.

Water softeners

The City of Watsonville would like its green businesses to have the highest salt efficiency commercially available for water softeners.

Typically that includes a demand initiated regeneration (usually controlled by a electrical conductivity sensor).

The softener should be certified by NSF or ANSI to have a salt efficiency of no less than 3,350 grains of hardness removed per pound of salt used if installed in 1/1/2000 or later, or no less than 4,000 grains of hardness removed per pound of salt used for regeneration if installed after 1/1/2002.

Businesses can use a portable exchange tank service instead of regenerating onsite, which would waive the requirement to switch to potassium chloride.


Approved Janitorial Chemicals

The Green Business Program requires that janitorial chemicals be listed on one of these three approved websites:,, or EPA Design for the Environment.


Use light switch reminders to remind customers and staff to turn off lights. 

Environmental Policy

Adopt a written environmental policy. Ask your Green Business Coordinator for a template and modify as you see necessary to fit your business.  The policy needs to be signed by the owner or CEO of the company and emailed to your Green Business Coordinator. 

Reuse Garbage Bag Liners

Be sure to add this to a contract with your janitorial/custodial company to ensure it happens.

Donate Furniture/Supplies

Keep your receipts for donations so that you can document this for your Green Business Program Coordinator

Assess Chemicals

Easing the Pain of Change…

Be sure to discuss any planned measures that involve chemical, equipment, or process changes with your local regulators (wastewater districts, hazardous materials, fire, or wastewater or air districts).  They may have regulations or concerns that need to be addresses.  Involving them from the start as part of your project “team” can save you time and money by eliminating the need for “changes” at a later date-and they may have ideas on how to avoid the need for permits/conditions altogether. 

Energy Star Refrigerators

ENERGY STAR refrigerators are 15% more energy efficient than models which meet the minimum federal energy efficiency standard.  By switching to an ENERGY STAR refrigerator you could cut $80 off your monthly energy bill over the life of your refrigerator.

Identifying Flow Rate of Toilet

Look at the back of the toilet bowl where the lid attaches to the bowl.  If the toilet is 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf), it will most likely be stamped there.  You may also find the flow rate stamped inside the tank itself.

511 Rideshare Info

Pre-Tax Commuter Benefits

Share the savings on these benefits! Employers may save as much as 7.65% on payroll taxes per participating employee.  See for information on this and all alternative transit programs.


An improperly tuned car produces 10-15 times more pollution than a tuned one.  Each person driving alone to work creates more than two tons of auto exhaust each year.  If every commuter car in the U.S. carried just one more passenger, we would save 6,000,000 gallons of gasoline and reduce air emissions by 12 million pounds of carbon dioxide every day!

Only Rain Down the Drain

Only Rain Down the Drain!

The storm drain system is separate from the sanitary sewer system, and pollutants that enter these drains flow directly into creeks and the bay without treatment.  Educate personnel about this difference and the importance of not letting contaminants enter storm drains.

All businesses are required to prevent anything except rainwater from entering storm drains from any of the following activities or sources:

  • Loading docks
  • Dumpster areas
  • Outdoor working areas
  • Storage areas
  • Landscaping
  • Construction
  • Cleaning equipment/tools
  • Pre-painting preparations
  • Power-wash water
  • Washing vehicles
  • Cleaning parking lots
  • Monitor subcontractors to ensure their activities are not polluting storm drains. 
  • Prevent erosion during all landscape, construction or other activities.

Faucet Aerators

The federal standard for faucet aerators has been updated to 0.5 gallons per minute (gpm).  All restroom and kitchen faucet aerators should have a flow rate of no more than 0.5 gpm. 


Green Purchasing: Environmentally Preferable Purchasing policies guide you in buying products that are more durable, energy efficient, low toxicity, and made with recycled content. Having an Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Policy also institutionalizes your company's commitment to the environment through smart purchasing.  These can be simple one-pagers or detailed documents for larger businesses.  Ask your Green Business coordinator for examples, or see the more detailed template at

Monitoring Energy Bill

Energy efficiency is the best, least expensive energy resource available.  By making your business more energy efficient, you will save money, prevent pollution and help reduce global warming.  Reviewing your monthly bill will help you to catch fluctuations and adjust accordingly.

Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans use 98% less energy than central A/C units and heating with natural gas instead of electricity can be 40-56% more efficient.

HVAC Maintenance

If you are in a larger building, the maintenance contract must include maintenance of any economizers and specify two maintenance visits per year (we will need to see a copy of this contract). For smaller buildings, replace disposable filters (or clean permanent ones) every 6 months (do so every 3-4 months if there is significant amount of dirt). This must be done by either you or your landlord.


Program coordinators must verify number of fixtures before and after. 


Resource for grasscycling:


Verification required.  Talk to program staff about green businesses near you.  The City of Mission Viejo does not endorse any company in particular. 

Post Consumer Waste

Post Consumer Waste (pcw) percentages refer to the amount of consumed-paper that was used to make the recycled-content paper.  Sometimes manufacturers will specify pre-consumer waste up to 100%, which is simply using industrial wastes that would be collected and processed regardless.  That is why the post-consumer % is more important.

High pcw paper of good quality no longer jams printers, even when printing large volumes.  Talk to your vendor to ensure that you get a high quality paper that does not jam printers. While there may be an added cost, if you follow the tips to reduce paper use, the cost has been proven to be offset at other offices.

Used Office Furniture/Equipment

There are a variety of local offerings for used office furniture for small to large businesses. and Better Source Liquidators are a few that are available in San Mateo, as well as various charities.

If you feel you are a business who also offers this service, please contact the San Mateo Green Business Program.

Toilet Rebate

If you currently have toilets with 3.5 gallons per flush (gpf) or more and you replace it with an EPA WaterSense Labeled High Efficiency Toilet (HET), which uses 1.3 gallons per flush or less you can receive a rebate. The following link takes you directly to the HET rebate application: 

If you replaced your toilet that was 3.5 gpf to 1.6 gpf in the last 5 years you will not be asked at this time to switch to the 1.28 gfp until your re-certification in 3 years. There are no rebates available for replacing 1.6 gpf with a 1.28 gpf. 

If you have further questions, please contact your Green Business Program coordinator.

Buy Fresh Buy Local Food Guide

The Community Alliance with Family Farmers has developed an online tool that simplifies sourcing of locally produced and sustainable foods.  The tool allows users to search for Buy Fresh, Buy Local partners located a specific distance from a zip code or within a specific county.  The guide also displays an interactive map with the location of the business as well as a breakdown of each business by service type.  Please visit the guide at

Energy Star Commercial Kitchen Appliances

When purchasing new commercial kitchen equipment, Energy Star equipment is the best.  We are lucky to have the experts that test and designate Energy Star ratings in the Bay Area.  Rebates often apply and they often do site visits!  Visit them at

Auto Body BMPs

Ask your Green Business Coordinator for a free Best Management Practices toolkit for Auto Body Shops or find out details online at

Find out more about:

♦ Minimizing Paint Waste
♦ Paint Spray Gun Cleaning
♦ Solvent Recycling
♦ Waterborne Coatings
Sanding Waste Management
Hazardous Waste Management
Wastewater Management
Safer Alternative Thinners, Cleanup Materials, Coatings and Sanding Methods in the Autobody Industry

Commercial compost programs

Commercial composting is offered in most Cities in San Mateo County.  Check with your waste utility/agency.

It is not currently available in Half Moon Bay, Millbrae, South San Francisco, Montara, or El Granada.  These Cities hope to offer commercial composting soon.

Business that have the ability can compost onsite without waste utility pickups.  Ask your coordinator or read about it here:

Paper Recycling

The average office worker discards more than 175 lbs. of high grade paper per year.  Businesses use 2 million tons of paper in copiers each year!

Waste Audit

Contact your waste hauler for a waste audit to maximize your company’s recycling.  AB 341 requires that all businesses have recycling service in place.  Many haulers are also now collecting food waste from commercial accounts.  Check to see if your hauler or City offers this service and watch the amount of waste going to the landfill drop dramatically!

Properly mark all containers both inside your business and outside where bins are so that all employees and janitorial staff are fully aware of what goes where.  Ask your hauler or city for signage to ensure waste is going to the correct containers.

Waste Diversion

San Francisco’s goal is Zero Waste by 2020. You can recycle or compost just about anything in San Francisco and save your business money. Here are some actions you can take to work towards a Zero Waste Future:

1.       Make recycling and compost bins readily available to employees and customers and remove black bins from your office.

2.       Use the sign-maker at to make your custom zero waste signs.

3.       Conduct regular trainings for your staff on materials that belong in each bin. Send electronic reminders to your staff on items that (you find) are often placed in the wrong bin (such as coffee cup sleeves, soiled napkins etc).

4.       Collect batteries, electronics, fluorescent lights, plastic bags, and/or scrap metal for proper disposal with a small, well-marked bin near the waste stations.

How to document: Take pictures of your bins and signage.

HVAC Maintenance

Energy efficiency is the best, least expensive energy resource available.  By making your business more energy efficient, you will save money, prevent pollution and help reduce global warming.  Reviewing your monthly bill will help you to catch fluctuations and adjust accordingly.

A simple tune-up can increase the energy efficiency of your furnace by 5% and you can save up to 10% by insulating and tightening up ventilation ducts.  Ceiling fans use 98% less energy than central A/C units.  Heating with natural gas instead of electricity can be 40-56% more efficient.

Oil Collection

One pint of oil can produce a toxic slick on surface waters approximately one acre in size.  One gallon of used oil can pollute one million gallons of drinking water.


Low Flow Aerators

The SFPUC offers free aerator fixtures for businesses!

Lavatory sink flow rates shall not exceed the federal code of 0.5 gallons per minute (EPAct 1992, EPAct 2005).

Lavatory sinks with metering faucets are not limited by flow rate but shall not exceed the federal code of 0.25 gallons per cycle (EPAct 1992, EPAct 2005).

Paper Reduction

Paper reduction can be a big cost savings for businesses and can even offset the additional cost for higher recycled content paper.  Additional ways a business can reduce paper use is by becoming a paperless office, using electronic billing and invoicing, electronic accounting and payroll, etc. 

Paperless Office by


There are a variety of local offerings for used office furniture for small to large businesses. and Better Source Liquidators are a few that are available in San Mateo, as well as various charities.

A lot of businesses have found value in collecting clothes and shoes from their employees and donating them to their favorite charity.  Usually there is an employee who champions this cause.

If you feel you are a business who also offers this service, please contact the San Mateo Green Business Program.

Find your Garbage/Recyling Company

Each City/Region has different offerings as to what is recyclable.  Figure out the specifics for your region below.

Find your Garbage/Recycling Company here:

IF you already know who your garbage/recycling company is, select them here:

Recology San Mateo County -

Recology of the Coast -

South San Francisco Scavenger -

Allied Waste Daly City -

Recology San Bruno -

Green Waste Woodside -

Green Waste Portola Valley -

Allied Waste Services of Half Moon Bay -
Peninsula Sanitary Service (Stanford) -

Wash Water

Wash water should be collected and disposed of to a sanitary sewer drain or managed by a contractor that collects and properly disposes of wash water.

Alternative Transit Tax Deduction

The following information was copied from this link:  

Qualified transportation fringe benefits (Section 132(f) of the Internal Revenue Code) or “Commuter Tax Benefits” are like money in the bank. Employers save on payroll related taxes. Employees save on federal income taxes.

In 2013, under the fiscal cliff deal, Congress changed the effective date of Qualified Transportation Fringe Benefits (Section 132(f)) and extended its end date through December 31, 2013. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 now provides the option for most employers to provide transit and vanpool tax free benefits to their employees up to $245* per month. Previously, under the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, employers may provide workers with up to $240 per month in tax-free transit and commuter highway vehicle (e.g., vanpool) benefits.  The Act made this change effective as of January 1, 2012.** Prior to this change, the maximum level for transit and vanpool benefits was $125 per month for 2012

The monthly limitation under Section 132(f)(2)(A) Qualified Transportation Fringe Benefits regarding the aggregate fringe benefit exclusion amount for vanpools (commuter highway vehicles) and transit passes is $245. The monthly limitation under Section 132(f)(2)(B) regarding the fringe benefit exclusion amount for qualified parking is $245. Commuters can receive both the transit and parking benefits (i.e., up to $490 per month). Employers can allow employees to use pretax dollars to pay for transit passes, vanpool fares and parking but not for bicycle benefits.

Employers that subsidize at least $30 per month for transit or vanpool fares may meet the National Standard of Excellence and qualify for designation under NCTR’s Best Workplaces for Commuters.




Energy Star

Energy Star compliant monitors have power management features and consume up to 90% less energy.  Screen savers don’t save energy!  Energy Star copiers and fax machines can reduce their annual electricity cost by about 60% and 50% respectively.


At least 15% of landfilled waste is estimated to be yard waste - much of which can be diverted and used for compost. 

Spill BMP

Small Spills:

Use shop towels, sending to an industrial laundry service with rags or squeegees. 

Medium and Large Spills:

·       Clean larger oil spills with a hydrophobic mop, Pig, pad or squeegee/dust pan for spills containing oil.  Wring out into a dedicated mop bucket labeled as “Waste Oil.”  Hydrophobic mops will not pick up antifreeze

·       Use a regular mop for spills containing antifreeze.  Wring out into a dedicated mop bucket labeled as “Waste Antifreeze.”

·       Do not reuse regular mop water over and over (use once).

·       Use a shop towel to clean up any residuals on the floor

·       Floors may be wet mopped only after using the above methods.  Dispose of mop water to the sanitary sewer as long as it meets local discharge limits (pH is not too high).