Joint Venture Silicon Valley provides ANALYSIS, ACTION, LEADERSHIP

Joint Venture Silicon Valley provides




What's Happening Now

Municipal Internet of Things Blueprint Released

Innovation CitiesJuly 10, 2019 – Joint Venture's civic technology team announced publication of Municipal Internet of Things (IoT) Blueprint, a free PDF download to inform local government leaders about trends in the IoT. Published by the Wireless SuperCluster, a part of the Global City Teams Challenge (GCTC) project, and led by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the tool was co-edited by David Witkowski, Executive Director of Joint Venture’s Civic Technologies Program.

Data Release: Silicon Valley has access to cleaner power than CA or the U.S.

solar panels and wind millsJuly 9, 2019 - The Joint Venture Silicon Valley Institute for Regional Studies has released a comparative analysis of local sources of power by emissions intensity. In just three years, the majority of Silicon Valley energy customers – both residents and businesses alike – have transitioned away from PG&E to community choice energy programs.

Read the release

Joint Venture & SVCE Tackle Green Building Rules

Illustration showing connection between clean electricity and clean communityJuly 1, 2019 - Joint Venture is partnering with Silicon Valley Clean Energy to promote local green building rules through an innovative mechanism called reach codes. Under state law, cities and counties may adopt local ordinances that exceed state codes to ensure new buildings promote a clean and healthy future through greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions.

Learn More

Joint Venture Food Recovery Partners with Loaves & Fishes

Loaves & Fishes logoCollaboration will double community impact

July 1, 2019 – Joint Venture Silicon Valley and Loaves & Fishes Family Kitchen have formed a partnership that will enable Joint Venture’s Food Recovery initiative, known as A La Carte, to transfer day-to-day operations to Loaves & Fishes Family Kitchen. Effective immediately, A La Carte operations will be managed by Loaves & Fishes, including pick-up and delivery operations and the fleet of trucks that deliver meals to people who are in need.

Read the News Release

Facebook funds new truck for Food Rescue

group standing in front of truckJuly 1, 2019 - Facebook, in partnership with Flagship Facility Services, Inc., will fund a new food truck for Joint Venture's Food Rescue initiative, known as A La Carte, that has been picking up and distributing food from four of Facebook’s cafes and mini cafes since March. The new truck will increase the size of the fleet that "harvests" prepared food for people in the community who are food-insecure. Facebook has donated more than 22,000 meals through the program to date.

Learn more

Joint Venture partners with Adobe for people with disabilities

people chatting July 1, 2019 - Joint Venture's Silicon Valley Talent Partnership has paired a pro bono team of experts from Adobe to assist nonprofit Project HIRED to help people with disabilities find employment. Have a project that could use expert help?

Contact Joint Venture's SVTP for details.

Joint Venture board adds new members

July 1, 2019 – The Joint Venture board of directors elected two new members at their quarterly meeting: Supervisor Susan Ellenberg and Michael Isip, President and Chief Executive Officer of KQED. “We are delighted to add the expertise of Supervisor Susan Ellenberg and Michael Isip to the Joint Venture board,” said Russell Hancock, President & CEO of Joint Venture.

Read the news release

Meet Duffy Jennings

July 1, 2019 - Duffy Jennings first joined Joint Venture in 2008 as VP of Communications after enjoying a distinguished career as a corporate communications executive and journalist. He retired—or rewired?—from corporate life in February 2019 and, with the new release of his memoir, Reporter’s Note Book: A San Francisco Chronicle Journalist’s Diary of the Shocking Seventies, he added author to his list.

Read Duffy's profile

Silicon Valley Indicators

indicators home page Get comprehensive information and data about Silicon Valley’s economic and community health at

Data and charts from the Silicon Valley Index (and more) are available on a dynamic and interactive website that allows users to further explore Silicon Valley trends.

Download the 2019 Silicon Valley Index.

Investors Spotlight

Donors invest in Joint Venture with both general support and project-specific gifts that help us react nimbly to provide analysis and innovative solutions to issues that confront our regional economies and quality of life. Here are just a few of our many investors:

SiliconSage Builders logo Urban Catalyst logo Urban Community 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

July 17, 2019 - (KPIX TV-5) - Elon Musk Developing AI-Connected Brain Implant To ‘Secure Humanity’s Future’: Joint Venture Silicon Valley CEO Russ Hancock believes if anyone can merge human beings with artificial intelligence, it would be Musk. More

July 16, 2019 - (Energy Pages) - Rise of Energy Choice Diminishes PG&E’s Silicon Valley Market Share:Silicon Valley residents have greater access to cleaner energy compared to the rest of California and the rest of the country, says The Joint Venture Silicon Valley Institute for Regional Studies. More

July 10, 2019 - (American City & County) - Small cells, big uncertainties: “The FCC’s approach is a pretty blanket approach. And it may not account for all of the nuances of local government..." notes David Witkowski, executive director of civic technology initiatives at Joint Venture Silicon Valley. More

July 8, 2019 - (Mercury News) - Exodus: For Bay Area millennials, moving up means moving out: In 2017, roughly 36 percent of Silicon Valley adults between the ages of 18 and 34 lived with their parents, according to an analysis by Joint Venture Silicon Valley. More

July 5, 2019(KPIX-TV5) - New Numbers Show Silicon Valley Tech Jobs Are Moving North: "The workforce is young," says Joint Venture CEO Russell Hancock.  More

June 29, 2019 - (Mercury News) - Pizarro: Literary Send-Off - Joint Venture Silicon Valley CEO Russell Hancock and his wife, Marguerite Hancock, hosted a reception to bid farewell to Duffy Jennings, who served as Joint Venture’s communications director for the past 11 years. More

June 26, 2019 - (Michigan Daily) - KLA opens temporary R&D site in Ann Arbor:According to Curbed San Francisco, a recent census done by Joint Venture Silicon Valley discovered the median home sale price for a house is $1.2 million. More

June 26, 2019 - (The Almanac) - Manzanita Talks move forward: Efforts to bring together public and private sector leaders to talk about how to address regional transportation problems moved forward on June 13 with what Joint Venture Silicon Valley President and CEO Russell Hancock called a historic discussion. More

June 25, 2019 - (KQED News) - Stanford Wants to Expand: Russell Hancock, a Stanford lecturer and also president and CEO of Joint Venture Silicon Valley, said, "It's always baffling to me when the neighbors vilify Stanford. This is a world class institution. There would be no Silicon Valley without Stanford." More

June 19, 2019 - (NPR News) - Google Pledges $1 Billion For Affordable Housing: We are seeing an increase in the people that are living in RVs or other temporary shelters," said Rachel Massaro, director of research for Joint Venture. More

June 18 - (KQED News) - Google Pledges $1 Billion to Help Fight Bay Area Housing Crisis It Helped Create: Joint Venture reported that affordable housing units represented only a small share of recently approved units in Silicon Valley.   More

June 18, 2019 - (Mercury News) - Californians sharply divided over how to tackle housing shortage: Russell Hancock, CEO of Joint Venture Silicon Valley, believes Bay Area residents have become more open to new solutions to the housing shortage in the last five years. More

June 18, 2019 - (Mercury News) - With SUV ads and snark, desert city looks to woo Bay Area residents: According to a study by the regional think-tank Joint Venture Silicon Valley, the region gained about 62,000 foreign-born residents between July 2015 and July 2018, while 64,300 residents left. More

June 14, 2019 - (AJOT) -Commute times across Silicon Valley have increased by 17% over the past decade, adding an average of 43 minutes weekly per commuter, according to the 2018 Silicon Valley Index by Joint Venture Silicon Valley. More

June 12, 2019 - (Los Altos Town Crier) - Food truck puts corporate leftovers to community good: Silicon Valley Food Rescue operates as a project of Joint Venture Silicon Valley. More