Joint Venture Silicon Valley provides ANALYSIS, ACTION, LEADERSHIP

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What's Happening Now

Meet John Boland, KQED Public Media

John Boland speaking at graduationEvery leader aspires to leave a legacy of success. John Boland, a member of the board of directors at Joint Venture Silicon Valley, has done just that at KQED. At a time when most regional news entities are struggling, Boland catapulted KQED from a traditional public broadcast outlet into a multimedia stronghold. The eldest of 12 and a college dropout, Boland served as President and CEO of KQED through March 2019, and is now president emeritus. 

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CBS News: San Jose has highest-paid workers

video image May 20, 2019 - Joint Venture CEO Russell Hancock says, "it's no surprise," when interviewed by CBS News on a new report that says the nation's highest paid workers are in San Jose. With an average annual median income of $117,000, “our numbers are skewed by people who are making obscene amounts of money. Silicon Valley is a place that has 50 billionaires,” Hancock said. “We’re spiraling upwards in terms of our costs, our housing, for everything,” Hancock said. “You see those costs rising faster than anywhere in the country. And it’s because the market can bear it.”

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Russell Hancock on Tesla stock plunge

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May 20, 2019 - Russell Hancock, president and CEO of Joint Venture, was interviewed by CBS News when one Wall Street analyst issued a “code red” on Tesla for not meeting internal production goals and getting distracted in side ventures. Hancock says “I think shareholders are saying this product that is world changing, maybe now we need some adult supervision–doing the things that Detroit has done for a very long time.”

Watch the news clip

Institute Report: space under construction rivals dot com boom

black and white report cover May 3, 2019 – Joint Venture Silicon Valley’s Institute for Regional Studies has released its Q1 2019 report on Silicon Valley commercial space. The report shows that activity is brisk and demand is high, especially for commercial space located near public transit. Office vacancy rates – which were relatively high between Q4 2017 and Q4 2018 due – fell significantly in Q1 2019 to 13.4%.

Learn more | Read news release

Data Release: Silicon Valley sets pace for electric vehicle adoption 

Electric car May 15, 2019 - The Joint Venture Institute for Regional Studies today reported that Silicon Valley’s total number of registered electric vehicles (EVs) surpassed 80,000 in 2018, comprising nearly 20% of all such vehicles in California, and by far the highest numbers of any region per capita. Learn more

Joint Venture Food Rescue hits new milestone

150K pounds of food & 80K meals in 6 months

May 13, 2019 - Joint Venture’s food rescue initiative, A La Carte, has collected more than 150,000 pounds of prepared surplus food from universities and corporate food services...more than 80,000 meals for people who are food insecure. This spring A La Carte will purchase an additional truck. John A. Sobrato, Chairman Emeritus of Sobrato Development Companies, Sobrato Philanthropies, and a current member of Joint Venture’s board of directors, has donated $125,000 to the effort.

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Silicon Valley Indicators

indicators home page Did you know you can get comprehensive information and data about the economic and community health of Silicon Valley any time by visiting the online home of the Silicon Valley Index at

The site is maintained and constantly updated by Joint Venture's Silicon Valley Institute for Regional Studies and is a robust collection of charts and information with links to local, regional and national data sources, and resources for additional information within each of the indicator categories: People, Economy, Society, Place and Governance.

Download the 2019 Silicon Valley Index.

Investors Council Spotlight

Joint Venture's Investors Council welcomes dozens of public and private organizations and foundations supporting our initiatives and programs. Here are just a few of our many investors:

Crew SV logo Eastdil Secured logo University of California - Santa Cruz logo

Joint Venture offers a variety of support and sponsorship opportunities for individuals, corporations, and public sector organizations. To inquire about becoming a member of our Investors Council, call (408) 298-9330 or visit our Become an Investor page. To see our current investors, visit our investors pages.

What is Joint Venture Silicon Valley?

Established in 1993, Joint Venture brings together Silicon Valley’s established and emerging leaders—from business, government, academia, labor and the broader community—to spotlight issues and work toward innovative solutions. In this short video see what Silicon Valley leaders have to say about the organization.


What are we doing?

Joint Venture and a consortium of local organizations are planning a project aimed at retrofitting existing commercial buildings to enable auto-demand response (Auto-DR), which means the ability to react automatically to changes in energy demand. In order for a building to be both efficient and “smart” it must be able to react to these utility pricing signals (i.e., adjust electricity usage when there are changes in prices due to peak load) through Auto-DR.  This will become more important in the coming years as utilities shift their pricing structures to encourage customers to decrease peak load.

The goal of this project is to increase the Auto-DR participation of commercial leased buildings to 26 Mega Watts (MW) load shed - about 10 times current levels in California - within 24 months.

Grant Opportunities

The U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) issued a funding opportunity for the Smart Grid Investment Grant (SGIG) program in June 2009.  Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, this grant is intended to promote Smart Grid technology and deployments that will result in lower energy demand and better performance of the electrical grid. 

In addition to the DoE funding, the California Energy Commission (CEC) is offering a cost-sharing grant which would provide a maximum $1,000,000 or up to 10% of the DoE award amount (whichever is less).  The combination of DoE and CEC with utility matching funds, assuming continuation of existing incentive programs, will amount to $600 per kilo Watt (kW) load shed (i.e., per amount of decrease in energy use). This amount per kW will entice building owners/managers to participate in the program and will therefore stimulate the Smart Grid industry.

The total project cost is $18 million.


Cypress Envirosystems, based in San Jose, California, introduced a Wireless Pneumatic Thermostat solution in 2008 which accomplishes a pneumatic retrofit in less than 15 minutes per zone and only 20% of the cost of a conventional Direct Digital Control (DDC) approach.  Just like a DDC system, it can programmatically change thermostat setpoints in response to Auto-DR events, and includes a built-in interface to the Open-ADR communications standard developed by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Akuacom, a San Francisco company.

This technology has been successfully deployed in a number of buildings, including an Auto-DR project for the County of Santa Clara for two buildings totaling 300,000 sq-ft.   The entire project was completed in eight days and less than $175,000, compared to six months and $880,000 for a comparable DDC retrofit.  The full cost of the project was reimbursed via PG&E incentives and represents 300kW of load shed potential.

Why are we doing it?

Commercial Building Pneumatics

In California, 46% of electricity use is related to commercial buildings (more than residential or industrial).  Peak electrical consumption for these buildings accounts for up to 30 Giga Watts, and represents a huge reservoir of potential decreased energy use through Auto-Demand Response (Auto-DR). 

While commercial buildings are the largest contributor to peak electrical load, they comprise less than 4% of the Auto-DR portfolio for PG&E and Southern California Edison (SCE).  To date, a key reason for this under-representation is the high cost and disruptive nature of upgrading older buildings for Auto-DR, and also the complications of multiple decision makers in multi-tenant buildings.  Without Auto-DR, in order for commercial property managers to react to peak load events they must dispatch a person to each thermostat to change them manually.  This method is inefficient in terms of both labor costs and reaction time, hence electricity costs.

From a technical point of view, the majority of commercial buildings in California remain off-limits for Auto-DR because they do not have communicating thermostats.  In fact, most of these are older buildings still use pneumatic HVAC control systems with no electronics of any kind.  This makes implementing Auto-DR difficult.  

Retrofitting these buildings for Auto-DR has traditionally been very costly and causes disruption to building tenants.  Upgrading pneumatic thermostats to Direct Digital Control (DDC) typically cost upwards of $2,500 each (achieving 1 to 2 kW of load shed), which makes it difficult to justify economically.  Replacing pneumatic actuators and piping with electronic versions require workers to go behind walls and above ceilings, possibly exposing asbestos or other harmful materials to tenants.

Climate Prosperity

This project amounts to a significant increase in building energy efficiency and will stimulate the Smart Grid industry in California.  Efforts will be focused on identifying Silicon Valley buildings for Auto-DR retrofit, although the scope of the project will extend beyond the Valley to other California PG&E and SCE territories.

This project is aligned with two of the five initial Climate Prosperity action items:  1) Accelerate improved energy efficiency in existing buildings; and 2) Grow the smart grid industry in Silicon Valley.  It will also help create green jobs, which is one of the indicators of achievement for the Climate Prosperity project.

Project Benefits

  • Deliver 26MW of load shed in the difficult-to-reach commercial lease building segment
  • Create green jobs immediately – more than 50% of funding is for installation labor for shovel ready projects
  • Train a workforce - create an eco-system of service providers that can sustain effort for future retrofits in California and nationwide, once stimulus funding is over
  • Showcase proven Silicon Valley technology and innovation

Who’s involved?

In addition to Joint Venture's Climate Prosperity Council, a Consortium has been formed around this Smart Grid project.  Consortium members include:

  • Cypress Envirosystems: wireless pneumatic thermostat technology
  • Echelon: technologies for building communications control
  • Akuacom:  “open” ADR to communicate pricing signals
  • Honeywell:  project implementation
  • County of Santa Clara:  target potential buildings in Santa Clara County
  • County of San Mateo:  target potential buildings in San Mateo County
  • CB Richard Ellis:  target potential buildings in both PG&E and SCE territory
  • Global Energy Partners:  reporting, funds management & disbursement
  • work2future: workforce recruitment and training

What are the latest developments?

On August 6, Joint Venture and a consortium of local organizations submitted an application to the U.S. Department of Energy for $9 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Smart Grid Investment Grant (SGIG) funds for this project. An additional cost-sharing application was submitted to the California Energy Commission (CEC) for $1 million.

Seven million square feet of commercial building space has already been identified for retrofit.

We received a letter from the CEC which stated that they intend to provide funding if we receive the DoE funds and follow all application guidelines.

What are the next steps?

We anticipate a reponse from the DoE in October.

Other next steps include:

  • Identify commercial leased buildings for Auto-DR retrofit and participation
  • Revise agreements with and educate existing tenants/owners/building managers
  • Implement pneumatic HVAC upgrade of existing commercial leased buildings
  • Where necessary, integrate upgrade with existing building automation system
  • Enroll buildings in existing Auto-DR programs from PG&E or SCE
  • Verify functional integration with Demand Response Automation Server

Where do I find out more?

To learn more about the initiative, contact Kelly Krpata or Rachel Massaro


1 Decision 06-11-049  November 30, 2006. Order Adopting Changes to 2007 Utility Demand Response Programs.  In response to the application of PACIFIC GAS AND ELECTRIC COMPANY (U 39-E), for Approval of 2006–2008 Demand Response Programs and Budgets, Application 05-06-006, Filed June 1, 2005

2 Decision 08-07-045 July 31, 2008. Application of Pacific Gas and Electric Company To Revise Its Electric Marginal Costs, Revenue Allocation, and Rate Design. Application 06-03-005, Filed March 2, 2006.

3 FERC Policy Statement, Docket No. PL09-4-000 paragraph 29.

4 Global Energy Partners, LLC.  2009.

5 Proposed Decision of Administrative Law Judge Jessica T. Hecht (Mailed 6/30/2009) adopting demand response activities and budgets for 2009 through 2011 (pp. 182, 214).

In The News

May 23, 2019 - (Curbed San Francisco)Joint Venture Silicon Valley released its annual Silicon Valley Index and reported “for the third year in a row, people are moving out of Silicon Valley nearly as quickly as they are moving in.” More

May 20, 2019 - (CBS San Francisco) - Tesla Stock Plunges: for Russell Hancock, the president and CEO of Joint Venture Silicon Valley, the issue is the assembly line. More

May 20, 2019 - (CBS San Francisco) -New Report Shows San Jose Has Nation’s Highest-Paid Workers:“It’s no surprise,” said Russell Hancock, the CEO of Joint Venture Silicon Valley More

May 16, 2019 - (IWCE's Urgent Communications) -Jeff Lewis, director of the smart-region initiative for Joint Venture Silicon Valley, outlines the benefits that government entities can realize by coordinating communications initiatives More

May 16, 2019 - (Mercury News) - The Gary Dillabough Effect: Transforming downtown San Jose, 20 buildings at a time: Joint Venture board member Gary Dillabough profiled. More

May 10, 2019 - (Mercury News) - Bay Area wage growth slowing, but still among best in the nation: Russell Hancock, president of Joint Venture Silicon Valley, said he’s still bullish about the regional economy. More

May 8, 2019 - (San Jose Spotlight) - Tech leader Matt Mahan jumps into San Jose council race: serves as a board member of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and Joint Venture Silicon Valley More

May 3, 2019 - (Silicon Valley Business Journal) -Silicon Valley real estate showed strength in the first quarter of the year with strong commercial demand, especially for space close to public transit, Joint Venture Silicon Valley reported... More

May 1, 2019 - (The Registry) - SiliconSage Homes CEO Sanjeev Acharya Joins the Joint Venture Silicon Valley Board of Directors More

April 25, 2019 - (Mercury News) - New Bay Area crown: Most expensive place in the world to build; “Another dubious award for the Bay Area,” said Russell Hancock, CEO of the non-partisan, regional think-tank Joint Venture Silicon Valley. More

April 22, 2019 - (Mercury News) - Bay Area paradox: We need housing, but we don’t want to build faster:  a recent study by Joint Venture Silicon Valley estimated the region is short as many as 108,000 homes and apartments. More

April 20, 2019 - (The Almanac) -Midpeninsula mayors, tech company transportation leaders convene to talk traffic: They were there to launch the "Manzanita Talks," a series of discussions convened by Joint Venture Silicon Valley More

April 16, 2019 - (KPIX 5) - Lawsuit Claims Apple Misled Hundreds Of Thousands Of Investors: “This is new territory for Apple,” said President and CEO of Joint Venture Silicon Valley Russ Hancock. More

April 12, 2019 - (Silicon Valley Business Journal) - Silicon Valley's 2019 Women of Influence award winners: Rachel Massaro, Vice President and Director of Research at Joint Venture Silicon Valley and Director of Research for the Silicon Valley Institute for Regional Studies. More

April 9, 2019 - (City Journal) - This year, Harris keynoted the Joint Venture Silicon Valley conference, and she is once again reaping large donations from tech and media giants. More