Sustainability + Resilience

Our goal: Reduce our ecological footprint and make our cities resilient.

SPUR’s sustainability and resilience agenda:

• Reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
• Plan for the inevitable realities of climate change.
• Create earthquake-resilient communities.
• Restore urban watersheds and coastal wetlands.
• Develop local and recycled water supplies.
• Meet energy needs with renewable sources.
• Strengthen our regional food system and reduce waste.

Read more from SPUR’s Agenda for Change

Climate Change

  • SPUR Report

    Climate Change Hits Home

    We have known about the perils of climate change for more than two decades. But global efforts to slow it down have largely failed. Even if we could stop producing greenhouse gases tomorrow, the climate will continue changing. As a result we must not only intensify our efforts to reduce climate change but start preparing for its inevitable effects.

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  • Design Study

    Sea Level Rise at Mission Creek

    San Francisco’s Mission Creek is highly vulnerable to flooding from sea level rise and storms. SPUR worked with the city, the Bay Conservation and Development Commission and the Delta Alliance of the Netherlands to propose design concepts that could provide resilience for this rapidly growing neighborhood.

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  • Ongoing Initiative

    Ocean Beach Master Plan

    Ocean Beach, one of San Francisco’s most treasured landscapes, faces significant challenges. Since 2010, SPUR has led an extensive interagency and public process to develop the Ocean Beach Master Plan, a comprehensive vision to address sea level rise, protect infrastructure, restore coastal ecosystems and improve public access.

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  • Ongoing Initiative

    Climate Adaptation

    In the fight against climate change, the Bay Area has two important responsibilities. We must continue to reduce our carbon emissions and we must prepare for some inevitable environmental change. SPUR's ongoing research and recommendations are laying the groundwork for how local governments can plan for both of these challenges.

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  • New Project

    Designing With Nature for a Rising Bay

    The San Francisco Bay is a beloved and complex place. How do we manage it as sea levels rise? SPUR is partnering with the San Francisco Estuary Institute to develop a region-wide assessment of the shoreline. By dividing the Bay into distinct, manageable areas, we can develop tailored adaptation strategies that will actually work. The project will launch in 2016.

Earthquakes

  • SPUR Report

    Safe Enough to Stay

    When the next major earthquake strikes, a significant amount of San Francisco’s housing may be too damaged to live in as it’s being repaired. This means the city is at risk of losing its most important asset: its people. To prevent this loss, San Francisco must take steps to ensure that residents can stay in their homes in the weeks and months after the disaster.

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  • SPUR Report

    On Solid Ground

    How well will the Bay Area recover after a disaster? The answer depends on whether or not we make good land use planning decisions now. By understanding local earthquake hazards and addressing them before the next disaster, we can reduce the damage our cities will face.

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  • SPUR Report

    How Safe Should Our Buildings Be?

    How do we decide when a structure is "safe enough”? Engineering standards define how many deaths, how many building demolitions and how long a recovery time we will have. Currently, the City of San Francisco has no adopted performance objectives for these factors. SPUR provides a new framework for improving San Francisco's seismic mitigation policies.

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  • SPUR Report

    Lifelines

    Much attention is paid to how buildings will perform in a major earthquake. But what about our utility systems for water, electricity and natural gas — or our roads, public transit, ports and airports? Here’s how San Francisco can strengthen these “lifelines” and increase its resilience to a major earthquake.

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  • Ongoing Initiative

    The Resilient City

    We know that another major earthquake will strike San Francisco — we just don’t know when. Since 2008, SPUR has led a comprehensive effort to retrofit the buildings and infrastructure that sustain city life. Our Resilient City Initiative recommends steps the city should take before, during and after the next big quake.

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Energy

  • SPUR Report

    Fossil-Free Bay Area

    Fossil fuel use is causing runaway global climate change, but we still have time to reverse course if the world can transition to renewable sources for almost all energy uses. We propose three big ideas for how the Bay Area can end its dependence on fossil fuels and become a model for other urban regions.

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  • SPUR Report

    Greening Apartment Buildings

    Two-thirds of San Francisco’s housing is in multi-family buildings. While new green building codes are important, changing the environmental impact of existing buildings can have a more immediate effect. What will it take to green the buildings we already have?

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Water

  • SPUR Report

    Future-Proof Water

    Most of the Bay Area’s water is imported from outside the region. Today these supplies are regularly threatened by drought, earthquakes and other risks — all of which will intensify with future climate change. Meanwhile, our region of 7 million people will add 2 million more by 2040. Do we have the water we need as we grow?

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  • Article

    Water, Water Everywhere

    Since 1934 San Francisco has relied on the Tuolumne River in Yosemite for almost all of its water. But to protect the health of the river and establish a more resilient water source in times of drought and disaster, the city is introducing the use of recycled and groundwater, as well as furthering conservation efforts.

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Food

  • SPUR Report

    Public Harvest

    Urban agriculture has captured the imagination of San Franciscans in recent years. But the city won't realize all the benefits of this growing interest unless it provides more land, more resources and better institutional support.

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  • SPUR Report

    Locally Nourished

    The Bay Area’s food system supports our greenbelt, employs hundreds of thousands of people, and helps reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. SPUR recommends a series of policies to help us more effectively capture the benefits of our regional food system.

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  • SPUR Report

    Healthy Food Within Reach

    One in 10 adults in the Bay Area struggle to find three meals a day, while more than half of adults are overweight or obese. To meet our basic needs, improve public health and enhance our quality of life, Bay Area residents must have access to healthy food. SPUR recommends 12 actions that local governments can take to improve food access in Bay Area communities.

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  • Ongoing Initiative

    Food and Agriculture

    The Bay Area is known for its passion for food and its forward-thinking policy. Since 2011, SPUR has spearheaded an effort to combine the two. Our region can lead the nation, demonstrating how municipal policy can catalyze the development of urban agriculture, build a stronger regional food system and create healthier communities.

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Green Infrastructure

  • SPUR Report

    Integrated Stormwater Management

    San Francisco must start viewing stormwater as a resource and reduce the amount of it that is shunted into the city’s treatment system. SPUR explores four inter-related strategies that allow for greater stormwater storage and infiltration of rainwater into the ground while providing numerous community and environmental benefits.

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  • White Paper

    Greener and Better Roofs

    Many cities around the world have incentives and regulations to encourage green roofs in new construction. San Francisco lags substantially behind others such as Portland, New York, Chicago and Toronto. What can be done to support the development and broader implementation of green roofs in San Francisco?

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  • White Paper

    Greening Up

    San Francisco is poised to channel significant new investment to integrated urban watershed planning and green infrastructure through a planning process called the Urban Watershed Assessment. In partnership with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, SPUR convened an advisory group to ask: What is needed to scale up green infrastructure in San Francisco?

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Advanced Search

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Updates and Events

Explore Climate Action Activities with the San Francisco Bay Area Climate Action Portal!

News February 24, 2010
Climate change is a global problem, and the San Francisco Bay Area is especially threatened. Around one thousand miles of shoreline frame the region, so we will be greatly affected by sea level rise and intensified storm activity. Given our particularly risky situation, the Bay Area is on the forefront of climate change action. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District and the Institute for Local Government have collaborated to release the San Francisco Bay Area Climate Action Portal , a web based tool designed to provide local governments with the resources they need to take action on climate change. The site provides access to a wide variety of information including climate change policy, science and current news, inventory and statistical information, project examples throughout the Bay Area, and goals already accomplished. The portal also has an interface for climate change communication, linking people together for meetings, events, online discussion...

Toward Zero Waste

Urbanist Article February 1, 2010
San Francisco's 72 percent waste diversion rate is the product of aggressive state and local policy, a fruitful public-private partnership, and a sustained investment in outreach and public engagement. Although we are setting the nation's leading example, there's still more we can do.

Sea Level Rise, Way Worse than We Thought (Again)

News December 18, 2009
A paper this week in what is arguably the world's most prestigious scientific journal, Nature, says that the last time the Earth warmed up as much as it will under climate change, sea levels rose about 8 meters. This means that global sea level rise over the coming decades may be about twice as worse as we thought. When we published two articles in the Urbanist last month on the topic of sea level rise, we reported that sea level rise might possibly be 5-7 m higher in 300 years, and very likely 1.5 m by 2100. (these were the most well-documented worst-case scenario numbers I could find). This new paper - a great analysis here - says sea level rise is very likely going to rise 20-30 feet (6-9 m) if we hold temperature to about 3.6 degrees F higher than today. We don't know when we'll get these...

Coming soon: energy efficiency loan program

News December 16, 2009
SPUR's analysis of the cost-effectiveness of various options for local government to reduce carbon emissions has gotten around. Our evaluation showing that in San Francisco, a low-interest loan program to finance home energy efficiency retrofits would be more cost-effective than new incentives for renewable energy installations, was featured in an EPA presentation for local governments on how to use stimulus funding. The presentation is accessible on ICLEI's California Region site. And it looks like such a program is actually being proposed in San Francisco , modeled after the wildly-popular Berkeley FIRST.

Windfall for All

News November 20, 2009
Study after study has shown that cities prioritize development that lets visitors and residents walk, bicycle, or take public transit to get around, people are healthier and have far less negative impact on the environment . Now, a new study by TransForm entitled Windfall for All demonstrates another benefit to developing livable communities: people who do not use cars to get around spend far less money on transportation than people who do. Citing AAA estimates, the report shows that, on average, it costs $8,097 per year to own, maintain, register, insure, and fuel a vehicle. In all, individuals in the Bay Area spend $34 billion on private transportation, most of which on owning and operating cars. Especially in current tough economic conditions , finding ways to cut costs is critical, and that includes money spent on transportation. Yet many Bay Area towns and cities have prioritized development that not only...

Picturing Climate Change: Special Event!

News November 16, 2009
This Wednesday, join the Alaska Conservation Foundation for an evening with National Geographic photographer James Balog. Mr. Balog, an award wininng photographer for over 25 year s, will share his groundbreaking work to capture the reality of climate change by photographing the world’s shrinking glaciers. Through time-lapse footage, Mr. Balog will share his efforts to design equipment, underwrite, and produce one of the world’s most convincing records of climate change. For more information (and stunning photographs), visit www.extremeicesurvey.org . Half of the U.S. coal reserves, by the way, lie in Alaska—making it a very important front line for stopping global climate change. Event details: Wed, Nov. 18, Fort Mason Officer's Club, 1 Fort Mason, San Francisco Program (Free, but RSVP required): 6:30-7:30 pm RSVP: Lorraine Guyer, at acfinfo@alaskaconservation.org , or call (907) 276-1917.

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