Award Categories‎ > ‎

Previous Innovation Winners


DripCycle is a Mountain View-based startup founded by recent college graduates. They invented a first of its kind, chemical-free, plug-and-play water savings system for commercial buildings that collects water produced from air conditioning units, along with rainwater, to be used for landscaping, cooling towers and more. Their patented 3-stage filtration system takes five minutes to clean, is 100% self-contained and is small enough to fit in the back of an SUV. DripCycle’s first Silicon Valley-based client was Dennis Kobza & Associates, an architecture firm in Mountain View. DripCycle also has installed two units at Loyola Marymount University, and another at the Black Canyon Center in Phoenix. Each system can save anywhere from 100,000 - 1.2 million gallons of water per year, depending on the size and use of the building.


Ouroboros Farms is a commercial aquaponics farm in Half Moon Bay that uses a combination of fish and plants to maximize resource-efficient food production. Their technique uses up to 90% less water than most traditional soil-based agriculture, and up to 90% less land to grow the same number of crops. For example, it takes an average of .75 gallons of water to produce a head of lettuce, whereas in soil it would take 15 gallons. By producing more food on less land, aquaponics offers an opportunity to grow food in urban areas where land would otherwise be prohibitively expensive. Ouroboros also provides tours to the public and to local schools to inspire the next generation of farmers, a farm stand where customers can pick their own produce and monthly aquaponics classes. They sell aquaponics kits to help others get started. The name Ouroboros comes from an ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon eating its own tail, representing the nutrient cycle.


zNano has developed small, on-site advanced water recycling plants that treat greywater using a seven-step process that concludes with reverse osmosis and ultra violet disinfection. They currently have two systems in operation, and a third being installed in San Jose. The systems in operation recycle >70% of the wastewater they treat. The Santa Clara Valley Water District measured the water savings resulting from their system installed at a Gilroy laundromat.  When fully operational, the San Jose plant is projected to save approximately 7,200 gallon per day. All three systems are designed for laundry water recycling, but the technology is expected to be equally effective for carwashes, breweries and wineries, food and beverage facilities, hotels and hospitals. Reverse osmosis removes sulfates and other pH adjusters from greywater, resulting in recycled water that achieves the desired pH for laundry with just 10% of the detergent required for tap water. The temperature of the treated water averages 83 degrees Fahrenheit, resulting in an energy savings of 11 degrees when reused. zNano has invested in a production facility in San Jose that is designed to employ up to 32 people and produce up to 10 units per month by 2017.


WaterSmart Software – Using a unique combination of behavioral psychology, data analytics and cloud computing, WaterSmart Software generates custom Home Water Reports (HWR) and offers a web and mobile portal for residential water users. The reports compare household consumption with similar sized homes, encouraging customers to adjust their behavior to what is perceived as "normal." Tailored recommendations are integrated with each water utility's incentive and rebate programs to allow easy engagement in water conservation actions. WaterSmart’s Utility Analytics Dashboard helps water managers quickly glean useful insights about the performance and ROI of their programs, as well as consumption trends. Their software incorporates automated leak detection to improve operational efficiency. Studies have shown that WaterSmart helps reduce water consumption by 5% while doubling customer satisfaction and tripling levels of engagement in conservation programs. WaterSmart is currently used by 38 municipal utilities, including several in Silicon Valley. Alameda County Water District uses the WaterSmart Program, and the cities of Morgan Hill, Mountain View and Palo Alto, as well as Great Oaks Water Company, cost share on the Program with the Santa Clara Valley Water District. WaterSmart has helped save nearly 1 billion gallons of water since its inception in 2009.


The City of Redwood City implemented a Water Allocation Program that creates water budgets for landscape irrigation customers, resulting in 15-30% reduction in water use.