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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  • 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

    Sea Level Rise at Mission Creek

    San Francisco’s Mission Creek is highly vulnerable to flooding from sea level rise and storms. SPUR is working with the city, Arcadis, the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, and the Delta Alliance of the Netherlands to propose design concepts that will provide resilience for this rapidly growing neighborhood. This project will be completed in 2016.

  • 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

  • New Project

    Fossil-Free Bay Area

    Fossil fuel use is the single-largest contributor to human-caused climate change. SPUR is investigating what the Bay Area can do to completely eliminate the use of fossil fuels. Our goal is to create a model that other urban regions can follow. Research is underway and will be published in 2016.

  • 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

Notes from Abroad: Dublin's Bike-Share a Success

News October 6, 2010
All photos by Colleen McHugh In its first year, Paris' popular Vélib' bike share program — one of the first major programs of its kind and the largest system in the world — battled higher-than-expected rates of vandalism and theft . But in Dublin, where dublinbikes launched last September, the surprise has been just how smoothly and successfully the program ran in its first year. A modest system in comparison to Vélib' — with only 450 bikes compared to Paris' 20,000 — dublinbikes had over 44,000 subscribers (28,000 year members, and 16,000 short term members), over one million total journeys, an average of 10 trips per bike per day, no major injuries to cyclists, only two stolen bikes and nearly no vandalism over the year period. The dublinbikes program currently exists only in the city center of Dublin, but the city council intends to expand the system to other areas...

Banner Month for California Air Resources Board

News October 5, 2010
CARB and MTC have adopted strong regional targets for reducing emissions through better planning and less driving. [Photo Credit: flickr user Jovi Girl J ] In late September, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) voted unanimously to adopt a strong set of regional targets for passenger vehicle emissions reduction under SB 375 , the state's anti-sprawl law. The historic vote was the culmination of a two-year effort which included the entire Regional Targets Advisory Committee process and report, intense research by modeling experts, proposed targets from metropolitan planning organizations, and public workshops around the state. In the end, CARB adopted the staff-recommended targets for the big four regions, including the Bay Area's Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) -- 13-16% by 2035, and 10% for the San Joaquin Valley. These percentages represent a reduction in per-capita greenhouse gas emissions from passenger vehicle trips, and will be achieved through regional planning that will...

Crosstown Bicycling Could Become Realistic Option for San Francisco Residents Aged "8 to 80"

News September 15, 2010
What would it take to transform San Francisco into a world-class bicycling city? More bike racks? More designated green lanes? Fewer hills? San Francisco is already one of the premiere biking cities in the country: bicycling has increased over 50% since 2006, and last year saw over 8,000 bicyclists on the city's streets. San Francisco was recently ranked the sixth most bike-friendly city in America. But most San Francisco residents are not riding their bicycles. Last week's lunch forum, "Crosstown bikeways," hosted by Andy Thornley and Renee Rivera of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition , posed the question: "What is it going to take to get your neighbors, boss, coworkers and in-laws to ride bikes?" The SF Bicycle Coalition publicly debuted its "Connecting the City" campaign at SPUR last week, featuring routes that would allow residents to cross the entire city by bike. Borrowing a slogan from Gil Peñalosa ,...

Californians to Drive Less to Meet Emissions Targets

News September 9, 2010
[Photo Credit: flickr user sandy kemsley ] This post is the first in an occasional series that hopes to make sense of the issues surrounding the implementation of California's smart growth law, SB 375 . California's future demographic reality is clear. We will grow — perhaps not as quickly as in recent decades — but we will nonetheless continue to increase our population. The state projects a population of 44 million by 2020 and well over 51 million by 2035. Even if the recent economic downturn results in slower future population growth, the question still remains: how do we manage this growth with minimal environmental impact? For much of the past century, this growth was accompanied by increased auto use. But California's 2008 smart growth law, SB 375 — now being implemented throughout the state — proposes a different approach. A key recent policy decision relates to "Greenhouse gas reduction...

More than Just a Place to Park Your Bike

News September 1, 2010
A prototype for a bike rack designed by David Baker + Partners [Photo Credit: David Baker ] Build pretzel-shaped steel tubes, bolt them to the sidewalk, and the cyclists will come. Or at least that seems to be the logic behind the newfound interest in bike rack design in cities throughout the country. I remember a time when parking your bike meant locking it to anything you might tie a dog to, but these days everyone seems to have an opinion on the right way to lock up your bike — and a lamp post or park bench just will not do. San Francisco-based architect David Baker (whose elegant, pleasantly weathered bike rack prototype is featured in DIY Urbanism: Testing the grounds for social change -- opening next Tuesday!), provides an excellent primer on bike rack design and implementation. Who knew that round tubes were more susceptible to pipe cutters?...

"Palletecture" Marks Trend in Use of Recycled Building Materials

News August 26, 2010
An example of "Palletecture" from I-Beam Design [Photo via I-Beam Design ] Architects and designers are getting creative about finding low-cost ways to build green structures that are just as compelling, if not more so, than their pricier counterparts. It is no wonder, then, that trends such as "Palletecture" and other forms of architecture that use recycled and reclaimed materials have become a worldwide phenomenon. Palletecture is more or less what it sounds like—a new and surprisingly trendy form of architecture that utilizes old shipping pallets as a building material. The benefits of using pallets over traditional building mediums are many. For starters, pallets are easy to come by; they are durable, reusable, and come in a standard size. Units built with pallets are also inexpensive, running as low as $11 per square foot, making them perfect for use in low-income and transitional housing. One example of Palletecture's potential for...

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