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

Letter from Our Director

At the Department of the Environment, we are working every day to help San Francisco be a sustainable and healthy city for all of its residents; human, plant and animal. We know we will face pressing challenges. Many residents and families struggle to find safe and affordable housing and good jobs to pay their bills. At the same time the threat and impact of climate change has never been more real for San Francisco and the world. With rising sea levels and more unpredictable weather patterns, we must simultaneously prevent more harm to our environment, as we prepare our City to grow and thrive.”Read more…

Deborah Raphael

Our Values


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


We experiment and prototype to identify the best solutions to address environmental challenges, setting examples for other cities to follow.


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


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 inclusiveness and accessibility.


We know that the condition of San Francisco’s environment is critically important to the quality of life of all residents, and our programs clearly demonstrate a resilient environment is possible.

Follow our work:


Promoting Healthy Communities & Ecosystems

  • Increase adoption of safer alternatives to harmful products and materials

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

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

    Partner with low-income and public housing developers and managers to expand integrated pest management (IPM) principles and other environmental initiatives

    Encourage residents, businesses and city departments to use safer, less-toxic products and practices through targeted programs and outreach

    Invoke the Precautionary Principle to accelerate best practices in decision making

  • Partner with key stakeholders to ensure sustainability initiatives are equitable and accessible

  • Leverage the purchasing power of municipal operations to advance markets for green products and services

  • Lead and leverage inter-agency efforts to green San Francisco’s built and natural environments

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

    Support intergovernmental efforts to advance building standards and codes that reduce environmental and health impacts

  • Maximize carbon sequestration through natural ecosystems

    Research and facilitate compost application on City-owned and agricultural properties for carbon sequestration impacts

  • Support sustainable and healthy food options for all individuals and families in San Francisco, especially the food insecure


Square feet of private and municipal building stock certified through an environmental rating system such as LEED or GPR


Employees that have received racial equity training

Launch of racial equity initiative

In recognition of the fact that addressing institutional racism across all levels of government requires leadership and political will, on March 14, 2018 the SF Department of the Environment launched a racial equity initiative. The resolution affirms the Department’s commitment to racial equity and sets a path to develop a Racial Equity Action Plan with measurable outcomes.

We asked our community:

What matters most to you?

The priority is educating people, be they kids or adults. Workshops, education on what the environment is and how we can help from our own homes.”


Leading on Climate Action

  • Maximize energy efficiency in existing buildings

    Benchmark the city’s built environment to identify energy efficiency and on-site renewable generation potential to advance innovation and implementation of programs

  • Reduce dependency on single occupancy vehicles by improving access to sustainable and affordable modes of transportation

    Foster walking, biking, and the use of public transportation and shared rides by implementing the Citywide Transportation Demand Management plan in partnership with partner agencies

  • Commit to ambitious carbon reduction targets across city agencies

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

    Leverage innovation funding for activities that result in market transformation for Distributed Energy Resources.

  • Decarbonize the energy used for heating and cooling buildings

    Promote policies requiring energy efficiency improvement in existing buildings and new construction such as driving adoption of high-efficient heat pump technologies

  • Accelerate shift to 100% renewable grid electricity by 2030 and maximize local on-site generation of renewable electricity through policy development and investment

    Align Department programs to support greater adoption of CleanPower SF

  • Decarbonize the transport sector by facilitating deployment of electric and zero-emissions vehicles

    Rapidly expand charging and refueling infrastructure to scale Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) technologies across the city through partnerships and policy development

    Transition light and medium duty vehicle classes to ZEVs through partnerships, coalition building, increasing consumer awareness and demand, and bulk procurement


Square feet of commercial building stock participating in annual energy benchmark


of greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels


Percent of vehicles registered in San Francisco that are Zero Emission Vehicles

We asked our community:

What do you care about the most?

I care about living within a vibrant city while connecting to nature and having easy, convenient, sustainable transportation.”


Strengthening Community Resilience

  • Keep small businesses and community based organizations in San Francisco by minimizing costs associated with energy use, water use, and waste generation

    Evaluate the stands of the Green Business Program to more effectively enable small, local businesses to participate

    Decrease energy costs for residents by partnering with utilities and other jurisdictions through public goods charge funding and construction ordinances

  • Reduce cost of living in San Francisco by ensuring cost effective energy efficiency upgrades in all housing, with a special focus on affordable housing

  • Create jobs and economic opportunity by keeping sustainability investments in our communities

    Collaborate with city departments to develop a clean energy workforce that can rapidly scale distributed renewable generation and energy efficiency upgrades

    Provide entry-level environmental career pathways through Public Service Trainee (PST) program

  • Increase equitable distribution and installation of local renewable energy and battery storage

    Decrease energy costs for residents through construction ordinances and by partnering with utilities and other stakeholders to offer incentive and rebate programs

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

  • Make San Francisco infrastructure, landscapes and neighborhoods resilient to 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 ensure everyone has a seat at the table


Incentive dollars provided to multi-family housing and commercial housing sector for energy efficiency upgrades


Green Businesses in San Francisco


of all Department of the Environment grant funds allocated to low-income communities or public housing

We asked our community:

How can we achieve a thriving, equitable San Francisco?

By understanding individual communities—values, ideas, history, culture—and making initiatives responsive and inclusive of all people.”


Eliminating Waste

  • Increase participation in recycling and composting programs

    Develop tailored outreach and engagement programs so that more San Franciscans properly dispose of recyclables, compostables, and hazardous waste

    Expand number of recyclable and compostable materials accepted throughout the city

  • Expand accessibility and structure of programs for collecting hazardous products

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

    Accelerate innovation and enable robust community involvement through Zero Waste grant program

    Develop policies and coordinate with other jurisdictions to implement producer responsibility programs for waste streams that are difficult to manage

  • Modernize San Francisco’s refuse collection and processing infrastructure

    Oversee investment in processing facility upgrades, beginning with the highest priority needs

  • Increase reuse and recycling of construction & demolition debris

  • Prevent food waste

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

  • Reduce consumption of single-use items

  • Expand use of sustainable packaging materials


Tons of material sent to primary landfill on an average workday


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

Update to recycling program

In October 2017, the SF Department of Environment and Recology announced the most significant changes to the City’s recycling program since it was launched in 2000. The City’s “Fantastic Three” bin system for recyclables, compostables and landfill-bound material has been updated to allow San Franciscans to recycle more than ever. Read more…

We asked our community:

What do you want to learn about?

How to use ecological products and services. Knowing more about these programs would help maintain the quality of our environment.”


Amplifying Community Action

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

    Tie all SFE series to San Franciscans’ priorities and everyday lives by adopting user-centric program design

    Increase public-private partnerships that accelerate local innovation and engagement

  • Challenge businesses and local influencers to commit to meaningful action on climate strategy: 0–80–100–Roots

  • Align program services with partners across city departments to maximize impact and reduce confusion

    Ensure messaging in all SFE content is consistent, relevant, and accessible to its intended audiences

    Collaborate across program areas and with partner agencies on engagement timing and messaging

  • Support and grow local environmental leaders, particularly in communities that have historically been under-represented in the environmental movement

    Develop long-term relationships with community leaders and organizations by establishing community councils, innovation sprints, community dialogues, and hosting community events

  • Provide grants and resources to a wide range of organizations in order to increase reach and collaboration

  • Increase personal actions that reduce our impacts while preparing for climate change

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

  • Increase funding pool available to community groups for neighborhood environmental work by expanding carbon fund grant program

    Invest in existing neighborhood actions that amplify community cohesion and increase climate protection


K-12 students reached annually through the school education environmental sustainability program


Number of interns and public safety trainees recruited annually

Carbon Fund Grant Awards

In 2018, SF Environment's Carbon Fund awarded $150,000 in grants. The San Francisco Carbon Fund is the first fund of its kind to invest solely in local projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions close to where they were created – rather than large scale offset projects across the globe. The San Francisco Carbon Fund's impact can be seen and felt by the community daily. Read more…

We asked our community:

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

That our legacy as a forward-thinking, compassionate, responsive, inclusive city continues. That we recognize our moral leadership to address the climate crisis.”

Learn more about our work at SFEnvironment.org

©2021SF Environment Strategic Plan. All rights reserved.