October 26 2015 Policy Committee Meeting Approved Minutes


MONDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2015, 5:00 P.M.


Public comment will be taken before the Committee takes action on any item.

1. Call to Order and Roll Call.  The Commission on the Environment Policy Committee meeting convened at 5:00 p.m. (Present:  Commissioners Bermejo and Wald)

2. Approval of Minutes of the June 8, 2015 Commission on the Environment Policy Committee Meeting. (Explanatory Document: June 8, 2015 Draft Minutes) (Discussion and Action)  Upon Motion by Commissioner Bermejo, second by Commissioner Wald, the June 8 2015 Policy Committee Meeting Minutes were approved without objection (AYES:  Commissioners Wald and Bermejo; NOES:  None).

3. Approval of Minutes of the August 10, 2015 Commission on the Environment Policy Committee Meeting. (Explanatory Document:  August 10, 2015 Draft Minutes) (Discussion and Action)  Upon Motion by Commissioner Bermejo, second by Commissioner Wald, the August 10, 2015 Policy Committee Meeting Minutes were approved with an amendment (AYES:  Commissioners Wald and Bermejo; NOES:  None).

4. Approval of Minutes of the September 16, 2015 Commission on the Environment Policy Committee Meeting. (Explanatory Document: September 16, 2015 Draft Minutes)  Upon Motion by Commissioner Bermejo, second by Commissioner Wald, the September 16, 2015 Policy Committee Meeting Minutes were approved with amendments (AYES:  Commissioners Bermejo and Wald; NOES:  None).

5. Public Comments:  Members of the public may address the Committee on matters that are within the Committee’s jurisdiction and are not on today’s agenda.  There was no public comment at this time. 

Policy and Communications Director Guillermo Rodriguez reported that Director Raphael is in attendance at the Urban Sustainability Directors Conference in Minneapolis and will be in attendance at the November 9, 2015 Commission meeting.

6. Sustainable Values for the Business Environment: Update on the Green Business Program and Discussion on Greening San Francisco’s Hotels. (Explanatory Documents:  Green Business Program Presentation and Hotel Council Stay Green Sustainability Insights) Sponsor: Deborah Raphael, Director; Speaker: Anna Frankel, Green Business Specialist San Francisco Department of the Environment, Maggie Ostdahl, Sustainable Initiatives Manager Aquarium of the Bay, and Michael Pace, General Manager Clift Hotel (Informational Presentation and Discussion).

Green Business Specialist Anna Frankel presented an overview of the Green Business program discussing background and requirements and future direction of the program.  She reported that the program helps to reach San Francisco’s 0-50-100 climate action goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by helping businesses reduce their water usage, reduce zero waste, and increase energy efficiency.  Ms. Frankel reported that the program is a partnership between Department of the Environment, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and Department of Public Health.   An ordinance established the Green Business Program in 2006.

Ms. Frankel reported that there are more than 200 green businesses that are recognized in San Francisco.  San Francisco’s Green Business Program is part of the California Green Business Network consisting of 20 local cities and counties that have a Green Business program.   She reported that across the state there are about 3000 recognized green businesses.  Ms. Frankel reported that San Francisco works on program sectors that include hotels, offices (the largest sector), retail, restaurants, caterers and more.  She discussed program components that include energy conservation, employee education, water conservation, pollution prevention and waste water, legal compliance, and minimizing waste.  A green checklist that incorporates all of the components that is specific to the sector is used to help and assist businesses to learn about being green.  Assistance is provided through phone consultations, site visits, and leveraging other City agency programs.  Ms. Frankel reported on three-year green business renewal requirements for businesses.  

Sustainable Initiatives Manager Maggie Ostdahl, Aquarium of the Bay, a recognized green business, reported on Aquarium of the Bay’s mission and insights and experiences with the Green Business Program.  She reported that Aquarium of the Bay has been a certified green business since 2005 and has been through two certifications, the most recent in 2013.  Ms. Ostdahl reported on measures that Aquarium of the Bay engages in as part of their green business certification that includes water and energy conservation, waste diversion, sustainability education and LEED retrofit.  She reported that work is planned to certify other newer divisions that are not yet technically part of the certification.  

Ms. Ostdahl reported that the green business structure and recertification process offers Aquarium of the Bay excellent information and support as well as resources to track and accurately communicate sustainability.  She discussed future plans to embark on comprehensive sustainability planning throughout the entire organization including a voluntary calculation of their carbon footprint.  Ms. Ostdahl reported that annual green staff surveys have shown that because of Aquarium of the Bay’s green business certification, staff has adopted sustainability behaviors beyond the workplace and that personal discussions are held about sustainability and conservation more often.

Ms. Frankel reported on efforts to increase green business recognition in city neighborhoods through recruitment, outreach, education, and incorporation of information about other City programs.  Findings have shown that enrollment has increased through the outreach campaign. She reported that recognition will be determined and discussed at a future meeting.  Ms. Frankel reported on work with the Office of Contract Monitoring Division to provide a green business search function on the Local Business Enterprise (LBE) database.  Future plans include incorporating bid preferences for certified green businesses.  Other activities include a consumer awareness and recognition campaign and to expand the green business program across California.  Ms. Frankel reported that there will be a 10th Annual Green Business Awards reception on February 10th to celebrate and publicly recognize green businesses.

Ms. Frankel reported that San Francisco has five recognized green business hotels.  She reported on the Department’s efforts in partnership with the Hotel Council of San Francisco and its Sustainability Committee that held a green business forum in 2013.  As part of the forum, the hotel green checklist was reviewed together on standards and implementation measures.  Ms. Frankel reported that the forum was well received, so a workshop series was developed to discuss green business components and how to improve and continue support of the green work in the hotel industry. 

General Manager of the Clift Hotel and Head of the Sustainability Committee for the Hotel Council, Michael Pace, reported on the Clift Hotel’s efforts as a green business and discussed industry highlights to achieve sustainability.  Mr. Pace reported on his background and experience in hotel sustainability measures and in helping to create a national standard for sustainability for Kimpton Hotels and achieving LEED certification for the W Hotel.  He reported on discussions at the Hotel Council level about what the industry can do to continue to be better stewards of the environment, increase hotel participation, and to be the most sustainable hotel destination in the nation.  Mr. Pace discussed the valuable resource and guidance that is provided by Ms. Frankel and the Green Business program. 

Commissioner Wald and Policy and Communications Director Rodriguez inquired about obstacles that may prevent hotels from program participation.  Mr. Pace reported on difficulties that hotels have in reaching certification due to hotel age, brand standards restrictions, and corporation requirements.  He reported that the energy and water sectors are the most challenging because of brand standard restrictions of luxury hotels and the cost of infrastructure conversions for older hotels.  He suggested looking for alternatives to requirements such as finding more eco-friendly packaging or products.  Mr. Pace suggested that certification not be based on a pass/fail method and to instead create bronze, silver and gold levels when certain requirements are met.

Mr. Rodriguez discussed how the Community Choice Aggregation program could address energy conservation, consumption and renewable issues for older infrastructure.  Mr. Pace reported that any idea that challenges anyone to think differently is a step forward as long as it is balanced with a reality check as to what can and cannot be done based on financial needs, timing, age of building, brand standards, etc. 

Commissioner Wald inquired whether standards are raised during the certification renewal process.  Ms. Frankel reported that checklists are reviewed annually and are the basis for certification renewals.  Mr. Pace discussed the need to allow for allowances due to hotel infrastructure or other factors that may prevent a hotel from certification and suggested encouraging innovative ideas such as roof greening and recycling.  Ms. Ostdahl suggested providing more real world learning experiences to businesses to help them grow. 

Mr. Kevin Carroll, Hotel Council, reported that San Francisco’s Sustainability Committee is the most active participant of the six committees and discussed how ideas are shared and implemented.  Mr. Pace discussed the interest in sustainability measures by Committee members and how grass roots efforts can help sustainability reach the next level.  Mr. Pace discussed the benefits of Department staff availability, trainings, and the checklist that include actions that can be taken.  He asked that certification pass/fail requirements be changed to certification levels to provide opportunities for success.

Commissioner Wald inquired whether establishing certification levels would apply to other industries in addition to the hotel industry.  Ms. Frankel discussed state requirements of businesses completing all listed measures before recognition is awarded.  Commissioner Wald suggested maintaining higher standards, but finding ways to make standards accessible or amenable to more people.   Toxics Reduction & Healthy Ecosystems Program Manager Jen Jackson suggested the possibility of developing a reasonable timescale that could be developed to move people along certification levels.  Commissioner Wald suggested that City program partners be allowed to purchase better equipment through economies of scale and make purchases through the City program so standards can be met.   She suggested that hotels provide their own branded water bottles to guests instead of complimentary single-serve water bottles.

Ms. Frankel reported that she would work on scheduling a preliminary discussion about certification levels at the state level possibly in December and would then present back to the Committee after that time.  Commissioner Bermejo suggested creating a list of best practices as to why recommendations are made.  Ms. Frankel reported that she would create talking points based on the discussion held today to bring to the meeting.  Deputy Director Jennifer Kass suggested spending time between now and December to do more research and hold discussions on this topic before the state meeting.

Public Comment:

Ms. Lisa Bettencourt, San Francisco State University environmental studies student, stated that the meeting today has been informative, and that there is a lot that students and the public should but do not know about sustainability efforts in San Francisco. She stated that she is surprised that there are only five sustainable hotels in San Francisco and suggested focusing efforts more on locally based hotels than brand name hotels. 

Mr. Cameron Morgan, San Francisco State University environmental studies student, stated that the meeting today has been informative and that it opens his eyes to what is going on behind the scenes on steps taken to green businesses.  He stated that he is surprised that more businesses are not going green.  Mr. Morgan inquired about what hinders businesses from participating.  Ms. Frankel stated that participation may depend on the size of the business and the time the proprietor thinks may be taken away from running his business to participate in other efforts.  She discussed the importance of providing businesses with sustainability education on how participation may be financially and environmentally beneficial to them as a business.  Mr. Pace suggested involving students in the recruitment effort.  Ms. Frankel reported on prior student participation to connect students to businesses and hotels.

7. State Legislative Update: Review of the 2015 Legislative Agenda for the San Francisco Department of the Environment. (Expanatory Documents:  2015 San Francisco State Legislative CommitteeTracker and Toxics Reduction Legislation Presentation)  Speakers: Guillermo Rodriguez, Policy & Communications Director, Kevin Drew, Senior Residential & Special Projects Zero Waste Coordinator and Jen Jackson Toxics Reduction & Healthy Ecosystems Programs Manager (Informational Presentation and Discussion).

Policy and Communications Director Guillermo Rodriguez, Senior Residential and Special Projects Zero Waste Coordinator Kevin Drew, and Reduction & Healthy Ecosystems Programs Manager Jen Jackson updated the Committee on the Department’s legislative agenda in Sacramento.  Mr. Rodriguez reported that the state legislature spent a lot of time on environmental and sustainability issues in this session in comparison to the previous year.  He reported on the victories in the Zero Waste and Climate areas and action taken in the Toxics Reduction area.

Reduction & Healthy Ecosystems Programs Manager Jen Jackson reported on the Department’s support and passage of AB888, which removes plastic microbeads from consumer products by 2020.  She reported that SB763 flame retardants, labeling requirements for juvenile products did not pass, but is a two-year bill.  Ms. Jackson reported on problems associated with AB45 mandatory curbside household hazardous waste pickup that did not pass but is also a two-year bill.  She discussed a competing bill, which the Department supports, AB1159 Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for batteries and sharps that did not pass, but that further discussion is planned.  Mr. Rodriguez discussed issues surrounding Extended Producer Responsibility bills and beliefs by industry that it is local jurisdictions’ responsibility to manage and pay for waste instead of producers themselves citing San Francisco’s successful diversion program. 

Senior Residential & Special Projects Zero Waste Coordinator Kevin Drew reported on the Department’s support and success of Zero Waste bills reporting on the movement on organics and the waste system in California (AB1045).  He reported on the Department’s support and passage of AB199 Alternative Energy: Recycled Feedstock.  Mr. Drew reported that AB901, Solid Waste Reporting Requirements Enforcement, which the Department supported but suggested amendments to, had passed. 

Commissioner Wald inquired when the meeting to establish the legislative priorities will be held.  Mr. Rodriguez reported that the City has just held meetings with all of the City’s contract lobbyists in Sacramento to discuss next steps.  The Department would like to see the EPR bills that have been continued to move forward, but that there is concern with the pharmaceutical industry position.  He reported on discussions on how to make state cap and trade dollars flow to local jurisdictions to existing programs that have success at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  Mr. Rodriguez reported on efforts to network with colleagues and associations around the state to discuss next steps.  Plans are to go back to the state legislative committee early in the first quarter of 2016.   

Items 8 and 9 were heard together.

8. Director’s Update. Guillermo Rodriguez, Policy & Communications Director (Discussion)

Policy and Communications Director Rodriguez reported that the full Commission community meeting is scheduled for Monday, November 9, 2015, starting at 6:00 p.m.  The November 9, 2015 Policy Committee meeting will be cancelled as a result.

9. New Business/Future Agenda Items. (Discussion)

Policy and Communications Director Rodriguez reported that the item that may be scheduled for the December 14 Policy Committee meeting is an implementation update of the Safe Medicine Disposal Program.

10. Public Comments:  Members of the public may address the Committee on matters that are within the Committee’s jurisdiction and are not on today’s agenda. 

There were no members of the public present at this time.

11. Adjournment.  The Policy Committee meeting adjourned at 6:40 p.m.

The next meeting of the Commission on the Environment Policy Committee is scheduled for Monday, December 14, 2015 at 5:00 p.m. in City Hall, Room 421.

** Copies of explanatory documents are available at (1) the Commission’s office, 1455 Market Street, Suite 1200, San Francisco, California, 94103 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.  Photo identification is required for access to the building; (2) on the Commission’s website http://www.sfenvironment.org/commission/agendas, or (3) upon request to the Commission Secretary at telephone number 415-355-3700, or via e-mail at [email protected].  The meeting audio is located at http://media-06.granicus.com:443/ondemand/sanfrancisco/sanfrancisco_74174b89-dcc8-44fe-aa23-4c22f8fee8f6.mp3.  

Approved: December 14, 2015

Attached Documents: