The Natural Resources Defense Council does an annual investigation of cities progress toward sustainability is the cornerstone of the Smarter Cities project. They seek the advice of academic, non-profit and government experts to come up with a broad set of criteria by which to measure and compare sustainability efforts in cities across the U.S. The ranking scheme, developed with the help of a scholar from Yale’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, was intended as a tool for identifying, for the purpose of spotlighting, those cities that are taking the lead in addressing the major environmental challenges of our time, from global warming to clean air and water.
Turlock was ranked in the top 10 small cities category in Energy Production and Conservation (9) and Recycling (7) by the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Smarter Cities project.
The Turlock Irrigation District is one of only four publicly owned irrigation districts in the state of California that also provides electricity to residents. It was the first utility in the state to develop small hydropower plants in the 1970s, and has just installed California’s largest fuel cell to convert methane gas from the city’s Regional Water Quality Control facility into electricity.
The City of Turlock contracts with Turlock Scavenger, which has been recycling since the 1950s, to divert 62 percent of waste from the county’s Fink Road landfill. Since 1989, Stanislaus County has operated the Resource Recovery Center, a waste-to-energy plant, with the nearby City of Modesto. Much of the Fink Road waste is diverted there and turned into fuel, providing enough energy to power 18,000 homes.