Our mission is to advance climate protection and enhance quality of life for all San Franciscans.

Letter from Our Director

COVID-19 has shown us how San Francisco can pull together in the face of a seemingly insurmountable challenge. Yet even as we acknowledge our progressive emergence from the pandemic, we are keenly aware of the ongoing and coexisting crises of racial injustice and climate change. The San Francisco Department of the Environment remains committed as ever to our mission to advance climate protection and enhance the quality of life for all San Franciscans. To do so, our work must support a more equitable San Francisco.”Read more…

Deborah Raphael
Director

Our Values

Credibility

We are a trusted source of information about environmental challenges, drawing on deep expertise to create solutions that make a measurable difference.

Innovation

We pioneer new, unique solutions that harness the latest technology and best practices to address environmental challenges, while setting examples for other cities to follow.

Collaboration

Working with a range of partners is critical to our success. We are an engaged member of the San Francisco city family and work passionately with business and community stakeholders to advance shared civic goals.

Equity

Our programs benefit all residents and businesses in San Francisco and focus on supporting those communities most in need. All our initiatives are underpinned by a commitment to racial equity, inclusiveness and accessibility.

Impact

The condition of San Francisco’s environment is critically important to the quality of life of all residents, and our programs clearly demonstrate that a healthier environment contributes to a thriving city.

Follow our work:

Navigating the Plan

Goal1

Advance Racial Equity

  • Build organizational capacity for racial equity, normalize conversations about race, and develop a shared understanding of institutional and structural racism 

    Grow and empower the Racial Equity Steering Committee and Racial Equity Leaders to keep the Department engaged and accountable for achieving its Racial Equity Action Plan

    Increase staff access to and participation in trainings, conferences, and discussions focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion

  • Ensure the Department is a safe, equitable, inclusive, and anti-racist workplace

    Adopt and adhere to standardized recruitment and retention measures aimed at identifying, attracting, investing in and retaining a diverse workforce

    Address barriers for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color employed by the Department

    Develop diverse and equitable leadership and an organizational culture that fosters inclusion and belonging

  • Operationalize policies and practices that support and involve historically underserved communities and supporting institutions

    Strengthen outreach to and engagement with Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and underserved populations to ensure access to the Department’s services and identify mission-aligned opportunities to repair root causes of racial disparities

    Use racial equity tools and best practices to develop programs and policies that reflect the needs and lived experiences of San Francisco communities

    Regularly review and assess the Department’s Racial Equity Action Plan, updating as appropriate to ensure its tenets are reflected in the Department’s strategic planning processes

94%

Department employees who have received racial equity training

3

Internal policies and practices reviewed and improved with racial equity assessment tools

48

External policies and practices reviewed and improved with racial equity assessment tools

Racial Equity Action Plan, Phase 1

In December 2020, the Department completed Phase I of its Racial Equity Plan following an assessment of current conditions for all employees, especially Black, Indigenous, and people of color. The Plan identifies necessary staffing and resources and establishes measurable goals and commitments to intentionally address interpersonal and institutional racism within the Department. 

Racial Equity Assessment Tool

The Department created a tool to ensure projects center racial equity. Used in early-stage project development, it features probing questions that discern who may benefit or be burdened by a project. The tool notably helped identify the target audience of a campaign focused on the benefits of safer cleaning products—Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities with higher asthma rates—and promoted deep engagement with local partners and retailers.

We asked our community:

How can we achieve a thriving, equitable San Francisco?

Keeping all socioeconomic players involved and heard is key, as sustainability can be seen as a privilege of the rich.”

Goal2

Promote Healthy Communities & Ecosystems

  • Support residents, businesses, and city staff in limiting use of toxic and hazardous products, practices and materials

    Collaborate with key stakeholders to research and identify safer products, practices and materials

    Promote the use of safer products, with an emphasis on protecting Black, Indigenous and People of Color communities and other vulnerable populations disproportionately impacted by toxic chemicals

    Leverage the City’s purchasing power to create and advance markets for green products and services

    Expand integrated pest management practices by providing education, outreach and assistance to affordable and public housing developers, managers, and residents

    Enable residents, businesses and city departments to use safer, less-toxic products, building materials and practices through customized programs and outreach

  • Lead and leverage interagency efforts to green and increase the biodiversity of San Francisco’s built and natural environments

    Increase the size, ecological health, biodiversity, and interconnectedness of our urban forest, natural areas, open spaces, community gardens, and urban farms

    Support interagency efforts to advance building and landscape standards and codes that increase urban greening and improve access to nature, particularly for those who live in neighborhoods with limited access to green spaces

  • Provide equitable outdoor learning experiences to children and youth throughout San Francisco

    Partner on interagency initiatives that improve access to nature for San Francisco's children and youth, particularly those who live in neighborhoods with limited access to green spaces

150

Annual outdoor learning experiences provided to K-12 students in San Francisco

In Progress

Acreage of City lands managed for habitat, biodiversity and access to nature

Expanded safe pest prevention solutions

Since 2010, San Francisco has reduced its use of the most hazardous pesticides on public properties by 97%. The City also developed two sets of guidelines for reducing pests and weeds from structures and landscapes through design solutions. These guidelines were implemented in the renovations of 3,495 affordable- and low-income San Francisco housing units, improving the health and quality of life of residents.

Yerba Buena Island Stewardship Program

In 2020 the Department collaborated with the Treasure Island Development Authority and multiple contractors to launch a long-term habitat restoration program for Yerba Buena Island and Treasure Island, with an initial investment in 2021 of $300,000 for on-the-ground restoration and management. 

We asked our community:

What matters most to you?

That the city is affordable and livable for a great range of people, as well as access to opportunity and a healthy environment.”

Goal3

Lead on Climate Action

  • Accelerate progress toward the City’s ambitious carbon reduction targets

    Develop and deliver an equity-centered San Francisco Climate Action Plan consisting of world-class policies, plans, and strategies developed through cross-agency collaboration and deep community engagement

    Implement the San Francisco Climate Action Plan to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions while supporting racial and social equity, health, resilience, and a just transition

    Measure, monitor and communicate progress toward San Francisco's carbon reduction targets through annual sector-based and consumption-based emissions inventories

  • Continue to share San Francisco’s practices and lessons to show the world what is possible

    Exchange best practices and climate successes with local and global cities through C40 Cities, Urban Sustainability Director’s Network, Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance and other international and regional networks

  • Maximize carbon sequestration through natural ecosystems

    Align sequestration practices with the biodiversity and ecosystem management goals of landowning City departments

    Conduct carbon farming pilot projects and research, including compost and biosolids application on City-owned and agricultural properties

  • Double energy efficiency in existing buildings by 2030

    Expand access to energy efficiency programs via innovative new financing models that increase enrollment, especially among businesses and residents in underserved communities

    Optimize and reduce energy use in existing buildings by developing programs that expand the deployment of automated controls and demand-response equipment 

  • Reduce the carbon impact of new and existing buildings

    Eliminate natural gas in existing buildings by tailoring solutions to different building types and ownership

    Maximize building material conservation, reuse, and recovery strategies

    Reduce the climate impacts of construction projects by establishing carbon intensity maximums

    Provide educational resources and support workforce development for the design, construction, maintenance, and operation of low- and zero-carbon buildings

    Transition large commercial buildings to 100% renewable electricity by implementing the renewable electricity ordinance for large commercial buildings

    Continue to partner with CleanPowerSF to design and implement innovative, equitable programs that reduce utility burden while improving energy management for residents and businesses of San Francisco

  • Reduce the carbon impact of the transportation sector

    Improve access to walking, biking, public transportation and shared rides by implementing the Citywide Transportation Demand Management Plan in conjunction with partner agencies

    Implement the Citywide Electric Vehicle Roadmap with a focus on building an accessible, affordable, and ubiquitous electric vehicle charging infrastructure and advocating for equitable access to clean transportation modes

  • Develop long-term funding sources that enable equitable climate action

    In consultation with financial experts, community, labor organizations and other stakeholders, develop a funding plan that identifies and prioritizes prospective funding sources

    Work with elected officials and community partners to pursue the near-term (2021-2024) funding sources prioritized through the funding plan

  • Monitor, participate in, and influence state and federal policymaking that will enable and accelerate the department’s work

    Influence state policy and regulatory decisions through direct engagement, including tracking legislation and regulatory developments, serving in advisory capacities, and sharing information on community needs and policy opportunities

    Influence state and federal policy through collective actions with fellow City departments, other cities, NGOs, and other aligned organizations

    Engage with state and federal government to ensure the definition of “disadvantaged communities” accurately reflects on-the-ground conditions and results in an equitable allocation of resources

41%

Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 baseline of sector-based inventory

7%

Light-duty vehicles registered in San Francisco that are electric

All-electric mandate for new buildings

In 2020 San Francisco adopted the All-Electric New Construction Ordinance, which will ensure new building operations are zero-emission and truly free of fossil fuels.

Update of Citywide Climate Goals

In 2021 the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved an update to Chapter 9 of the City’s Environment Code, codifying new targets for sector-based greenhouse gas

We asked our community:

What do you care about the most?

That we find ways to deal with and reduce impacts of climate change.”

Goal4

Strengthen Community Resilience

  • Support San Francisco’s small businesses and community-based organizations by reducing costs associated with energy use, water use, and refuse generation

    Continuously improve incentives for the San Francisco Green Business Program to increase the participation of small businesses in historically underserved communities, and those owned by Black, Indigenous and People of Color

    Design, administer and implement energy equity programs that reduce the energy burden for underserved populations and the facilities that serve them

  • Improve quality of life and affordability for low-income households

    Design and implement Fix Lead SF with a focus on generating health and safety, energy efficiency, and clean transportation benefits for low-income and underserved residents

  • Help build a vibrant clean energy workforce with long-term economic and career opportunities

    Partner with the Office of Economic and Workforce Development to define the Department of the Environment’s role in supporting workforce development

    Leverage the Department’s programs to create job training and career-building opportunities, with an emphasis on generating opportunities for residents in underserved communities

  • Make San Francisco infrastructure, landscapes and neighborhoods resilient to climate change

    Connect communities most adversely impacted by environmental injustices with resources that enable them to become more resilient to the impacts of climate change

    Provide interdisciplinary expertise, resources, and thought leadership on climate resilience to both public and private entities

    Coordinate with other City agencies and jurisdictions on adaptation planning and community engagement to support broad representation of San Franciscans in strategic planning processes.

  • Increase equitable distribution and installation of battery storage

    Facilitate the installation of battery storage and microgrids at critical facilities like the SF Food Bank, city buildings, and other essential community hubs to increase resilience and lower electricity costs.

304

Green Businesses in San Francisco

50%

Department Zero Waste and Carbon Fund grant funds allocated to low-income communities

$9,486,000

Incentive dollars infused into the local economy from energy efficiency programs for energy efficiency upgrades

Diversifying Certified Green Businesses

As of June 2021, the SF Green Business Program has welcomed 42 new businesses that are BIPOC-owned and/or in historically underserved communities thanks to impactful new strategies that include the 2018 transition to a tiered certification model; partnerships with small business-serving neighborhood organizations; and extending rebates and pre-bates to businesses undergoing Green Business recognition.

Launch of BayREN Commercial Program

The Department led the 2021 launch of the BayREN Commercial Program, which serves San Francisco’s micro-, small- and medium-sized businesses. The program offers an innovative, first-of-its-kind energy efficiency rebate that covers 100% of the initial project cost.

We asked our community:

What matters most to you?

That the city is a beacon of hopeful solutions for all to follow.”

Goal5

Achieve Zero Waste and Zero Toxics

  • Increase source reduction, reuse, recycling, composting, and hazardous waste collection

    Develop tailored outreach and engagement so that more San Franciscans prevent waste and properly handle recyclables, compostables, and hazardous waste

    Institute a mobile collection system for beverage containers that enables San Franciscans to redeem the California Refund Value of containers

    Accelerate innovation and enable robust community involvement by providing Zero Waste grants to local organizations, with preferential consideration of projects that promote social equity

  • Expand accessibility and structure of programs for collecting hazardous products and materials

    Increase collection opportunities for household hazardous waste by expanding the number of local business drop-off sites

    Develop policies and coordinate with other jurisdictions to implement producer responsibility programs for problem products

  • Keep San Francisco’s refuse collection and processing infrastructure at the leading edge

    Oversee investment in recovery facility upgrades as markets and technologies evolve

  • Maximize reuse and recovery of construction & demolition materials

    Evolve recovery policies and promote material deconstruction and surplus reuse

  • Prevent food waste

    Drive awareness and provide solutions that radically shift the food waste paradigm

    Maximize the recovery and redistribution of edible food from food-generating businesses to food-insecure San Francisco communities

  • Reduce the proliferation of non-reusable materials and hazardous products

    Develop policies and tailored outreach aimed at reducing the market for non-reusable items and hazardous products

1,500

Tons of material sent to primary landfill on an average workday

3,925

Homes serviced for household hazardous waste collection annually (equivalent loads)

Food redistribution to those in need

Through its partnerships with the SF Market and other stakeholders, the Department has supported the redistribution of over 776 tons of edible food to food pantries and kitchens serving low-income San Franciscans.

We asked our community:

What matters most to you?

Finding ways to eliminate waste entirely.”

Goal6

Amplify Community Action

  • Reflect stakeholders’ values, needs, and everyday lives in Department program offerings and environmental action

    Listen to, collaborate and partner with community members and community-based organizations in the design and dissemination of Department-led programs

    Maintain leadership in developing communications and trainings that are consistent, relevant, fact-based and accessible to targeted audiences.

  • Align programs and services with those of other City agencies to maximize impact and reduce confusion

    Collaborate internally and with partner agencies to align timing and content of joint initiatives.

  • Support and empower local environmental leaders and organizations, particularly in communities that have historically been underrepresented in the environmental movement

    Provide grants and resources to a wide range of organizations to increase impact and community leadership

    Promote and celebrate the impact of community leaders, organizations, and businesses engaged in this work

  • Create environmental job and career-building opportunities

    Provide entry-level environmental career pathways through the City’s Public Service Trainee program

    Ensure Yerba Buena Island and other ecological stewardship initiatives create workforce development opportunities for local residents

  • Promote individual and institutional actions and behaviors that reduce climate change impacts

    Challenge businesses and residents to commit to meaningful action on San Francisco’s climate strategy: 0–80–100–Roots

    Increase and strengthen public-private partnerships that accelerate business sector innovation and engagement

    Inspire and mobilize children and young adults to take action and become environmental leaders in their families, schools, and communities

30

Interns, Fellows, and Public Service Trainees recruited annually

10,000

K-12 students, teachers, and parents reached annually through the environmental education program

$28.5 million

Grant funds awarded to CBOs to amplify and implement environmental programs

Essential Worker Ride Home Program

With funding from the SF County Transportation Authority and the Bay Area Air District, the Department launched Essential Worker Ride Home at the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic. The program provides a reliable taxi ride home for the city’s essential employees, helping to fill the gap left by reductions in transit service while supporting the City’s emissions reduction goals. To date, the program has funded more than 3,200 rides.

SFRecyles.org Update

First-in-kind, web-based government application SFRecycles.org helps San Francisco residents find out how and where to recycle, compost and properly dispose of things. Launched in 2017, the award-winning, multilingual app was updated in 2021 with a search tool to help residents identify how and where to donate, recycle, or discard items requiring special disposal, such as through a take-back, drop-off or home pick-up program.

We asked our community:

What matters most to you when thinking about the future of San Francisco?

Working hard to involve community members in creating, developing, and implementing initiatives— making people feel invested in what is happening.”

Learn more about our work at SFEnvironment.org