Sustainable Development

Our goal: Reduce our ecological footprint and prepare for climate change.


Article Sunday, November 1, 2009 In the last 10 to 15 years, the rate of global sea level rise has increased by about 50 percent. California is likely to see waters rise by 16 inches by 2050 and 55 inches by 2100. What characterizes this global climate threat? And how can we plan to manage it locally?
Blog Monday, October 26, 2009

SPUR is thrilled to welcome Ken Caldeira, head of the Carnegie Institution for Science's Department of Global Ecology at Stanford University, to the Urban Center for a lunchtime forum.

Blog Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Want to know the person behind all of SPUR's good sustainability work? Check out's interview with Laura Tam, SPUR's Sustainable Devepment Policy Director and hear Laura's thoughts on the necessary relationship between environmentally responsible practices and making good cities, how SPUR moves beyond important research to implement policy and how she works on reducing her ecological footprint at home.

Blog Thursday, October 8, 2009

A climate conference in Oxford concluded last week that whatever we can do to slow carbon emissions, it won't be enough to stop accelerated sea level rise. In fact, a German scientist who's widely regarded as one of the world's foremost experts on sea level rise, said his best guess was 1 meter this century (a lowball figure compared to the latest projections for California), and 5 meters in 300 years.

Blog Thursday, October 1, 2009

Some of the first calculations of the benefits of green roofs are coming back and they're even better than expected: replacing typical roofing materials with plants across a city the size of Detroit would be the equivalent of removing the pollution of 10,000 SUVs in a year.


Our priorities for Sustainable Development


Our water and wastewater systems are aging and in need of repair and reinvestment. Reliability of these lifelines is essential to the future of the City's environment and economy. We can rebuild them in a way that more sustainably manages resources than we have in the past.


San Francisco has many options to achieve greenhouse gas reductions from major emissions sources: energy, waste, land use and transportation. The City has set an aggressive target for reductions, and a cost-effective approach will help us reach it most efficiently.


The concept of waste is not a sustainable one. To the extent possible, we should maximize the use of resources and prevent them from becoming wastes. This means diverting waste from landfills, composting organics, and putting rainwater to use instead of letting it flow into the sewer system.


San Francisco now has some of the greenest codes for new construction in the country. To reduce our carbon footprint and meet our climate change goals, we need to retrofit existing buildings to conserve resources. Conveniently, energy efficiency--and renewable energy over the long term--iis usually a cost-saving investment for building owners. People just need to know what to do and how to do it.

Sustainable Development Updates

To get regular updates on sustainable development activities contact SPUR Sustainable Development Policy Director Laura Tam at