Orange skyline of San Francisco during extreme fires of 2020

Sustainability and Resilience

Our goal: Eliminate carbon emissions and create resilient, environmentally just communities.

SPUR’s Five-Year Priorities:

• Eliminate the use of fossil fuel in buildings.

Use nature-based solutions to make communities resilient to sea level rise.

Make sure that all people and ecosystems have the water they need to thrive.

• Improve seismic safety of buildings and advance hazard planning and preparedness.


Read our policy agenda

computer rendering of a concrete creek channel that has been converted to public space, with a bike path, trees and people sitting on concrete steps in the creek bed,

SPUR Report

Watershed Moments

Climate scientists predict that California will experience longer, more frequent droughts as the climate warms. How can the Bay Area better manage the limited water it has? SPUR, Greenbelt Alliance and Pacific Institute teamed up to highlight six Northern California leaders who are pioneering more sustainable approaches to water use.
City streets and buildings next to waterfront. Wooden poles stick up from the water.

SPUR Report

Water for a Growing Bay Area

The Bay Area is projected to add 2 million jobs and as many as 6.8 million people in the next 50 years. But can we add more jobs and build more housing without using more water? New research from SPUR and the Pacific Institute says yes.

SPUR Report

Safety First: Improving Hazard Resilience in the Bay Area

The San Francisco Bay Area is both a treasured place and a hazardous environment where flooding, wildfires and earthquakes are common today. As a region exposed to multiple hazards, how can we manage for all of them at the same time?

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.

Black and white photo of a sink faucet running water


Lessons Learned From California’s COVID-19 Water Debt Relief Program

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the State Legislature established the California Water and Wastewater Arrearage Payment Program to provide financial relief for unpaid water bills. But water affordability struggles won’t end with the pandemic. The state will need to build upon its first experiment with water bill assistance to weather ongoing climate change and income inequality. SPUR investigates the success of the $985 million program and looks at lessons learned.

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.

Updates and Events

New Findings on Shallow Groundwater Rise Highlight a Climate Risk Not Addressed by Policy

News /
The Bay Area’s climate change adaptation strategies don’t reflect — and might even worsen — the impacts of coastal groundwater rise, which is expected to accelerate with sea level rise as the climate warms. New findings on groundwater rise point to multiple potential risks: degradation of underground infrastructure, movement of underground contaminants left by industrial activities, and an increase in liquefaction during earthquakes. The region’s coastal areas may need a new adaptation paradigm.

SPUR Letter to CalOES on Draft 2023 State Hazard Mitigation Plan

Advocacy Letter
The draft 2023 State Hazard Mitigation Plan did not include mention of a newly understood climate risk known as groundwater rise. Groundwater rise is likely to cause flooding, toxin mobilization in soils, and deterioration of underground infrastructure at an accelerated pace. This letter is signed by SPUR partners working on groundwater rise and climate adaptation issues in the region.

SPUR Sponsors Bill to Increase Shared Parking (AB 894 - Friedman)

Advocacy Letter
SPUR is sponsoring a bill to require that agencies allow land owners and managers to share underutilized parking and to count such shared parking toward meeting parking requirements. The bill would also require new developments and parking lots funded by public agencies to evaluate shared parking options. If passed, this bill will reduce a common circumstance of costly parking being required in situations where other parking is available nearby.

With Subsidies, Pollution-Preventing Heat Pump Upgrades Can Be Affordable for Low-Income Bay Area Households

News /
Next month, Bay Area regulators will vote on a proposal to phase out appliances that emit toxic nitrogen oxide pollution, setting the stage for a transition away from gas appliances. Will the new standard pose a cost burden to low-income families already struggling to make it in the Bay Area? We looked at the numbers and found that the true net cost of replacing end-of-life gas appliances with energy-efficient electric heat pumps will add up to a cost savings.

Op-Ed: Earthquakes in Turkey and Syria Are a Wake-Up for California. We're Not Prepared for the Big One.

News /
The devastating earthquakes that shook Turkey and Syria last Monday have taken the lives of over 23,000 people. Such a staggering death toll is hard to wrap the mind around and may seem like an impossibility here in California. Yet, the reality is that a similar magnitude earthquake near Los Angeles or San Francisco could lead to thousands of residents injured or killed and many more displaced, temporarily or permanently, from their damaged or destroyed homes.

Op-Ed: Fake Environmental Reviews are Killing Good Housing Projects. Here’s What California Can Do About it.

News /
California needs a lot more housing in its temperate cities. Enough to bring down rents, to house the homeless and to accommodate the climate refugees of the future — people who will have been driven from their homes by wildfire, flooding or intolerable heat. This means neighborhoods have to change, too. Not drastically or overnight, but persistently: more duplexes and fourplex intermixed with single-family homes, more apartments in commercial corridors and larger buildings in high-demand locations near transit.