San Francisco Department of the Environment

Zero Emission Building Taskforce

Replacing fossil fuels in our residential, commercial, and municipal buildings with clean electricity is a crucial step to building resilient housing, protecting public health, and eliminating climate pollution.

To harness these benefits for all San Franciscans, a Zero Emission Building Taskforce was convened at the direction of Mayor Breed. The taskforce brought together diverse leaders across sectors to recommend policies, outreach, and financial signals leading to the decarbonization of buildings citywide. These recommendations informed building decarbonization strategies in San Francisco's proposed Climate Action Plan which will be completed in 2021. 

Reports


Benefits of Zero Emission Buildings

Health: All-electric buildings improve indoor air quality and health by eliminating natural gas combustion inside homes. Burning gas in household appliances produces harmful air pollution which increases rates of respiratory disease, including asthma.

Safety and Resilience: Reducing reliance on the gas system improves resilience by reducing fire risk and simplifying building systems and maintenance. Gas plumbing in buildings poses fire, explosion, and public safety risks. Gas line ruptures caused half of the fires in San Francisco after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and it is estimated after a 7.9 earthquake it could take six months to restore gas service citywide, while electricity can be restored in less than a week.

Climate Change: The energy use from buildings in San Francisco contributes roughly half of citywide greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution, and natural gas is responsible for 82% of building GHG emissions. Natural gas is mostly methane, a greenhouse gas that is 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide, so natural gas leaks have a major impact on warming the planet.

Cost: Water heating and space conditioning with renewable electricity has about the same, and often lower, utility costs compared with performing the same functions with fossil fuels.


Purpose and Results of the Zero Emission Building Taskforce

In 2017, buildings in San Francisco were responsible for 44% of citywide emissions, with commercial and residential buildings contributing almost equally. Eighty-two percent of building emissions stem from the use of natural gas, primarily for water heating and space conditioning (heating and cooling).

Eliminating fossil fuel use in both electricity generation and in buildings is central to achieving San Francisco’s emissions-reduction goals; electrification is the transition of services that today commonly rely on fossil fuels to efficient use of renewable electricity.

In order to achieve the city’s goal of zero net emissions by 2050 and limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C, aggressively increasing electrification in new and existing buildings combined with renewable energy is necessary.

To meet our responsibility to the future while ensuring equity and a just transition, the Zero Emission Building Taskforce brought together diverse leaders across sectors. Participants collaborated on developing and articulating policy and program recommendations leading to the transition to zero emission buildings citywide by mid-century. These recommendations will inform San Francisco’s Climate Action Plan. More directly, the work of the Taskforce led to specific and significant actions, including: a January 2020 requirement for all municipal buildings to be all-electric and a November 2020 ordinance requiring all new construction be all electric. The all-electric requirement for new construction is effective as of June 1, 2021. 

Structure

The Zero Emission Building Taskforce consisted of a public-private collaboration of diverse key stakeholders, composed of a Steering Committee and informed by sector-level workgroups for:

  • New Construction
  • Existing Commercial Buildings
  • Existing Residential Buildings
  • Existing Municipal Buildings

Each workgroup made recommendations to the Steering Committee towards the goal of maximizing emission reductions, aligning with City goals for racial equity and a just transition, and building on key efforts in place, underway, and envisioned. City staff provided support with technical, legal, financial and budgetary analysis, and documented progress.

 

Zero Emissions Building Task Force structure (diagram)

Format

Zero Emission Building Taskforce activities included a mixture of workshops to surface ideas and solicit input broadly and working meetings where taskforce participants contributed ideas, posed questions, and formulated recommendations.

Timing

The Taskforce operated for one year, with it's work divided into two phases:

Phase I: November 2019 - March 2020
Existing Residential stakeholders focused on equity for people of color and low-income communities, while the Existing Commercial workgroup developed recommendations for the buildings with the largest emissions.

Phase II: April 2020 – October 2020
Phase II built off of Phase I, included additional stakeholders, and refined the details of the All-Electric New Construction Ordiance and its implementation. 

After the conclusion of the Zero Emission Building Taskforce, San Francisco introduced proposed strategies to put these ideas into action via the San Francisco Climate Action Plan. 


Events (Workshops)

Existing Residential Workshops

Workforce opportunities and challenges in the transition to efficient all-electric buildings
Tuesday, November 19, 2019, 2 to 4 pm
Venue: Contractors Assistance Center, 150 Executive Park Blvd #1300, San Francisco
Meeting Notes

Equity impacts: Electrifying deed-restricted affordable housing
Tuesday, December 10, 2019, 2 to 4 pm
Venue: Auditorium at Kelly Cullen Community, 220 Golden Gate Ave, San Francisco
Meeting Notes

Equity impacts: Electrifying single family & multifamily housing (focus on low-income and communities of color)
Wednesday, January 29, 2020, 2 to 4 pm
Venue: University of Public Works, 30 Van Ness Ave, Suite 3900 (3rd floor), San Francisco
Meeting Notes

Preliminary findings & recommendations (review and collect stakeholder feedback for equity impacts and San Francisco’s transition to 100% electric residential buildings)
Wednesday, February 26, 2020, 1:30 to 4:30 pm
Venue: San Francisco Public Library, Latino/Hispanic Community Room

Final findings & recommendations for equity impacts and San Francisco’s transition to 100% electric residential buildings
Tuesday, June 2, 2020, 2 pm to 4 pm
Venue: Meeting will be held online
Presentation

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Final Recommendations 

New Construction Workshops

Building the All-Electric City: Policy examples, technology, and equity
Wednesday, January 8, 2020, 2 to 5 pm
Meeting Notes

Panel Presentations

  • Governance: How Cities are Eliminating Natural Gas
  • Technology: Building All Electric - What will it take?

Commercial Kitchens for the Future Constructing & Cooking in New Buildings 
Tuesday, October 13, 2020, 2 to 3:30 pm
Agenda

Recording of Forum

Panel Presentations

 

Existing Commercial Buildings Workshops

Building the All-Electric City: Policy examples, technology, and equity
Wednesday, March 11, 2020, 9:30 to 11:30 am
Agenda
Presentation
Meeting Notes


Meetings (Workgroups)

New Construction Workgroup Meetings

Workgroup Meeting 1
Friday, January 24, 2020
Agenda
Brief
Meeting Notes

Workgroup Meeting 2
Wednesday, February 19, 2020
Agenda
Meeting Notes

Workgroup Meeting 3
Friday, April 3, 2020
Agenda
Presentation
Meeting Notes

Findings
Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Proposed Ordinance: Policy Brief
New Construction Workgroup: Summary of Findings

New Construction Factsheet: Español or Cantonese 

Existing Commercial Workgroup Meetings

Workgroup Meeting 1
Wednesday, February 12, 2020
Agenda
Presentation
Meeting Notes

Workgroup Meeting 2
Wednesday, February 26, 2020
Agenda
Presentations
Meeting Notes

Workgroup Meeting 3
Tuesday, March 24, 2020
Agenda
Presentation
Meeting Notes

Existing Municipal Workgroup Meetings

Workgroup Meeting 1
Thursday, January 23, 2020
Meeting Notes

Workgroup Meeting 2
Thursday, February 27, 2020
Meeting Notes

Workgroup Meeting 3
Thursday, March 19, 2020
Meeting Notes

Workgroup Meeting 4
Tuesday, May 5, 2020
Meeting Notes

Executive Steering Committee

Committee Meeting 1
Monday, Feburary 24, 2020
Meeting Notes
Presentation

Committee Meeting 2
Update Summary

Committee Meeting 3
Monday, May 18, 2020
Agenda
Meeting Notes
Presentation


News & Events

Supervisor Rafael Mandelman Introduces Legislation to Eliminate Natural Gas in New Construction

San Francisco's gas ban on new buildings could prompt statewide action 

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