State and Local Policy Database

San Francisco

City Scorecard Rank


San Francisco, CA

71.50Scored out of 100Updated 8/2019
Local Government Score:
7 out of 9 points
Local Government Climate and Energy Goals List All

The City of San Francisco requires all departments to complete annual greenhouse gas reports in its Departmental Climate Action Plans.

Climate Mitigation Goal

Environment Code Section 902 formally codified San Francisco’s citywide greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals. Section 902 establishes an emissions reduction goals of 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, with an interim reduction goal of 40% below 1990 levels by 2025. In 2018, the city’s 2050 goal was updated so that the city must now achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. ACEEE projects that the city will meet its GHG emissions reduction goal for local government operations. 

Energy Reduction Goal

We did not find information regarding a municipal energy reduction goal.

Renewable Energy Goal

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission provides city buildings with 100% fossil fuel-free electricity and aims to continue to do so. 

Last updated: June 2019

Procurement and Construction List All

Fleet Policies and Composition

In 2017, San Francisco adopted the Zero Emissions Vehicle Municipal Fleet Ordinance, which requires that all new passenger vehicles purchased be zero-emission vehicles and all passenger vehicles in the fleet be zero-emission vehicles by the end of 2022. The ordinance also encourages zero-emission vehicle procurement for other vehicle classes. San Francisco’s 2017 Alternative Fuel Vehicle Readiness Plan set objectives for transitioning to alternative fueled and fuel-efficient vehicles for public fleets. San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency operates the world’s largest electric trolley fleet. All trolley buses, cable cars, and light rail vehicles are electric. San Francisco’s fleet is composed of 24% efficient vehicles, including hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric.

Public Lighting

San Francisco follows California Title 24 Part 6 Energy Standards, which have mandatory requirements for efficient outdoor lighting. San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is 97% complete with replacement of all 18,500 city-owned streetlights to LEDs. Both prior and updated LED fixtures use photocell controls.

Green Building Requirements

Section 705 of the Environment Code requires LEED Gold certification for all new municipal construction and major alteration projects of 10,000 square feet or more in city-owned facilities and city leaseholds. It also requires that 1) projects comply with current Title 24 Part 6 energy standards, 2) buildings of 10 floors or less must install any combination of solar PV, solar hot water, or living roof (insulation & ambient temperature benefit) on a minimum of 15% of the roof, 3) buildings with more than 10 floors must generate at least 1% of the building’s electricity use onsite or purchase renewable energy credits, 4) Projects of 1-3 stories must determine if ZNE is feasible, using the BayREN Energy Target Setting and Performance Verification Calculator, 5) all projects must set an energy performance goal (via the same BayREN Energy Target and Perf Verification calculator) and annually benchmark actual performance (via Portfolio Manager but summarizing output in BayREN calculator), and 6) determine sizing of battery storage and PV array that would be necessary to maintain critical loads in the event of a major event and determine cost-effectiveness of Solar + Storage for Resilience system.

Last updated: June 2019

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking and Retrofitting

San Francisco benchmarks 100% of municipal buildings. The Existing Commercial Buildings Energy Performance Ordinance (ECBO) requires the benchmarking of public and private (non-residential) buildings of more than 10,000 square feet, using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. The ordinance requires disclosure of the ENERGY STAR score or the energy usage intensity if a score is not available. The 2017 Energy Benchmark Report for Municipal Buildings complies with the ECBO, and voluntarily includes all buildings with non-trivial energy use, regardless of size. The smallest benchmarked municipal building is the Cow Hollow Clubhouse at 675 square feet. Retrofitting is accounted for annually through budgeting for energy efficiency, by the SFPUC, with retrofits prioritized based on total energy use and other key factors. With the entire municipal portfolio benchmarked annually, the City uses this data to retrofit on the basis of capital budget, utility (SFPUC) efficiency budget, and maintenance status.

Public Workforce Commuting

San Francisco has a telecommuting policy for City employees in place. 

Last updated: June 2019

Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 7.5 out of 16 points
Community-Wide Summary List All

The City of San Francisco has adopted the Climate Action Strategy.

Last updated: March 2019

Community-Wide Climate Mitigation and Energy GoalsList All

Climate Mitigation Goal

San Francisco City Ordinance 81-08 established a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, with an interim reduction goal of 40% reduction by 2025. In 2018, Mayor Mark Farrell committed San Francisco to a 100% greenhouse gas emissions reduction citywide by 2050. ACEEE projects that the city will meet its community-wide GHG emissions reduction goal. 

The city has conducted a greenhouse gas inventory for 2016. The city also released emissions data on an open data portal and on an online dashboard.

Energy Reduction Goal

We did not find information regarding a community-wide energy reduction goal for the city.

Renewable Energy Goal

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commmission’s 2011 Updated Electricity Resource Plan lays out actions to meet a goal of generating 100% renewable electricity community-wide by 2030.

Energy Data Reporting

The city’s open data portal includes community-wide energy data and the city’s online dashboard displays energy emissions data.

Last updated: June 2019

Equity-Driven Approaches to Clean Energy Planning, Implementation, and EvaluationList All

Equity-Driven Community Engagement

We were unable to determine whether permanent city staff have taken a unique and expanded approach in conducting outreach for multiple clean energy initiatives to marginalized groups compared with outreach to other city constituencies.

Equity-Driven Decision-Making

We were unable to determine if the city has created a formal role for marginalized community residents or local organizations representing those communities to participate in decision-making that affects the creation or implementation of a local energy, sustainability, or climate action plan.

While not complete, SF Environment has issued a call for “Anchor Partners,” established community-based organizations familiar with building and energy policies and programs, who would provide critical feedback on how to integrate social and racial equity into potential building sector policies and programs.

Accountability to Equity

We were unable to determine whether the city has adopted specific goals, metrics, or protocols to track how multiple energy, sustainability, or climate action initiatives are affecting local marginalized groups.

SF Environment is currently preparing a major update to the communitywide Climate Action Strategy and is anticipating applying an Equity Assessment Tool developed by Race Forward for the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance “Zero Cities” project. This tool and supporting report provide metrics and suggested methodology for energy cost burden on people of color, distribution of economic prosperity, gentrification and displacement, health risks associated with housing, environmental justice/locational exposure to environmental risk, urban heat island, and community engagement.  

Last updated: June 2019

Clean Distributed Energy SystemsList All

The City of San Francisco amended its Green Building Code to require all new buildings of 10 floors or less to install solar photovoltaic, solar hot water, and/or incorporate a living roof plan on at least 15% of roof area.

Last updated: June 2019

Mitigation of Urban Heat Islands List All

The city’s Climate Action Strategy includes a goal of increasing the tree canopy of the urban forest to 25% of city land area by 2030.

The city has adopted a Better Roofs Ordinance which requires new residential, commercial, and municipal buildings to have either green roofs or roofs with solar systems. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s Stormwater Management compliance guidelines require developments of over 2,500 square feet to use green infrastructure.

Last updated: June 2019

Buildings Policies
Score: 21.5 out of 30 points
Buildings Summary List All

San Francisco has adopted building energy codes at the municipal level. The city’s code also includes solar- and EV-ready provisions more stringent than those required by the state code. The city has established a comprehensive energy code compliance verification process. The city has implemented a commercial benchmarking and disclosure policy; the policy does not require multifamily properties to benchmark energy use. San Francisco requires both residential and commercial building owners to perform additional above-code energy-saving actions.

Last Updated: March 2019

Building Energy Code AdoptionList All


The State of California allows its local jurisdictions to adopt building energy codes that are more stringent than the mandatory state codes. Title 24 outlines all California building codes. Title 24, Part 6 includes the California Energy Code and the California Building Energy Efficiency Standards (BEES). Title 24, Part 11 includes the California Green Building Code. The 2016 codes exceed the 2015 IECC and ASHRAE/IESNA 90.1-2013. To learn more about California’s building energy codes, please visit the State Policy Database.


San Francisco amended the California Green Building Code to create the more stringent San Francisco Green Building Code for commercial buildings. The city’s zEPI score for their commercial energy code is 49.1.


San Francisco amended the California Green Building Code to create the more stringent San Francisco Green Building Code for residential buildings. The city’s zEPI score for their residential energy code is 58.1.

Solar- and EV-ready

Per San Francisco city code, new developments must not only install solar-ready infrastructure but also incorporate a solar PV system, solar hot water heater, or livable roof on the building. San Francisco also requires developers install EV-ready infrastructure into 20% of parking spaces.

Last Updated: March 2019

Building Energy Code Enforcement and ComplianceList All

San Francisco staffs 11 full time employees solely dedicated to energy, mechanical, and green building code compliance. The city requires plan reviews, site inspections, and performance testing to verify code compliance. HERS testing, lighting controls acceptance testing, HVAC functional testing, and commissioning requirements are required under Title 24 of the California Energy Code. San Francisco offers upfront support through pre-application technical reviews. The city also invites developers and/or owners to contact the DBI Energy/Green Building/Mechanical Services office.

Last Updated: March 2019

Benchmarking, Rating, & Transparency List All

Commercial and multifamily

Chapter 20 of the San Francisco Environment Code requires all commercial buildings 10,000 square feet and greater to benchmark energy data in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. The policy covers 88% of commercial buildings. The city does not require multifamily buildings to participate. The city’s compliance rate is 80%. To date, the program has achieved energy savings of 6.1% among buildings that have benchmarked energy data over the past four years.


The city does not have a single-family benchmarking and disclosure ordinance.

Last Updated: March 2019

Incentives and Financing for Efficient Buildings and Renewable EnergyList All

San Francisco offers eight incentives for energy efficiency, solar energy, and low-income energy improvement projects.

San Francisco provides commercial and residential property owners a range of financing options and incentives for energy efficiency projects through the Energy Watch and BayREN programs.

The city also offers property assessed clean energy financing to both residents and business owners for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation projects.

San Francisco’s GoSolarSF program offers several incentives for property owners installing solar PV systems. There are additional incentives set aside for income-eligible homeowners. 

Please note that each incentive/program is tallied based on the building types and energy resources eligible for award. For example, a PACE financing program that offers energy efficiency and renewable energy financing to both residential and commercial property owners is counted as four incentives.

Last Updated: March 2019

Required Energy ActionsList All

San Francisco requires building owners perform 3 above-code energy actions.

Chapter 20 of the San Francisco Environment Code, the city’s benchmarking ordinance, requires commercial building owners to conduct an energy audit or retrocommissioning every five years.

San Francisco’s Residential Energy Conservation Ordinance requires a minimum set of retrofits at time-of-sale. This applies to residential properties built before 1978.

San Francisco also mandates residential and commercial buildings satisfy low-energy use requirements. New residential buildings must achieve GreenPoint Rated v7.0 certification. The city also requires new multifamily high-rises to achieve LEED Silver or higher certification and new commercial construction to achieve LEED Gold or higher certification.

Last Update: March 2019

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Workforce DevelopmentList All

The GoSolarSF incentive program has for many years offered a greater incentive payment to companies that hire installers that have received training with support of the City’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD).

Last Update: March 2019

Energy & Water Utilities
Score: 12 out of 15 points
Energy & Water Utilities Summary List All

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), an investor-owned utility (IOU), is the primary natural gas and electric utility serving the City of San Francisco. The City of San Francisco is an active promoter of the efficiency programs providing technical assistance, quality assurance, contractor training, marketing and outreach, and incentives. On the regional level, the city plays a leadership role in the Bay Area Regional Energy Network and is active in the Bay Area Climate Collaborative. On the state level, San Francisco is a founding member of Green Cities California and helped form the Local Government Sustainable Energy Coalition. The city works with those organizations and independently strongly advocates at the state level for policies that promote greater reach and depth of energy efficiency programs and additional spending requirements for energy efficiency projects for all of its utilities.

The State of California requires spending and savings targets for its utilities through an EERS and regulates and funds local government-utility partnerships through the California PUC. To learn more about the state-requirements for electric and gas efficiency, please visit the California page of the State Database.

San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, a municipally-owned utility, serves the city with access to drinking water, wastewater treatment, and stormwater management, and also provides electricity to the city's municipal departments and other retail customers (described in greater detail in the Local Government section).

Last Updated: April 2019

Electric & Gas Energy Efficiency Programs and SavingsList All

In 2017, according to PG&E, they achieved 1,343,224 MWh in net incremental savings, representing 1.63% of retail sales. In 2017, PG&E reported savings of 28.00 MMtherms from natural gas efficiency programs, representing 1.45% of its retail sales. These figures cover the entire California service territory, not just San Francisco. PG&E offers electric and natural gas efficiency incentives and technical assistance to residential and commercial/industrial customers.

The City of San Francisco partners with its energy utilities through the San Francisco Energy Watch program (SFEW). The partnership runs many energy efficiency upgrade, incentive, technical service, and quality control programs available to single-family residential as well as commercial customers. SFEW is PG&E's longest running local government partnership and has been offering technical services and financial incentives to qualifying commercial customers and multifamily building owners in San Francisco since 2006. The program reaches an average of 462 customers each year and performs over 400 audits per year and has saved over 180 million kWh since 2006 across over 7500 projects. In addition to SF Energy Watch, San Francisco is an active participant and partner in the Bay Area Regional Energy Network (BayREN), a regional collaboration of the 9 counties that comprise the San Francisco Bay Area.

Step Up and Power Down is a partnership between PG&E and the City of San Francisco that is helping local businesses take simple actions every day to reduce energy waste. The program has exceeded its enrollment goal with 698 businesses enrolled and its savings goal with 22 million kWh saved.

The Energy Savings Assistance (ESA) Program provides eligible households with free upgrades, providing a safe, comfortable and energy-efficient home. ESA has been provided by PG&E since 1983 and is funded through a public purpose charge on customer utility bills. ESA serves customers at or below 200% of federal poverty guidelines, provides prescriptive measures through a direct install program targeting single family, multi-family and mobile homes, and is available to both owners and renters.

Last Updated: March 2019

Low-Income & Multifamily EE Programs List All

Low-Income Programs

PG&E offers the Energy Savings Assistance Program to qualified low-income residential customers. The program provides direct installation of lighting efficiency upgrades, HVAC tune-ups, smart power strips, and refrigerator recycling/replacement in order to reduce energy consumption in low-income households. This program is implemented statewide by investor-owned utilities under the direction of the California Public Utilities Commission. It leverages the federal Weatherization Assistance Program, Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, and Low-Income Weatherization Program offerings.

In 2017, according to PG&E, its low-income programs achieved 59,263 MWh and 1.65 MMtherms in energy savings, while serving 87,052 electric and natural gas customers.

Multifamily Programs

PG&E offers the California New Homes Multifamily Program. This comprehensive program provides support for saving energy in the residential new construction sector with a cross-cutting focus on sustainable design and construction, green building practices, energy efficiency, and emerging technologies. Through a combination of education, design assistance and financial support, the programs work to encourage building and related industries to exceed California's Title 24 energy efficiency standards. Additionally, PG&E offers the Multifamily Properties Energy-Efficiency Rebates Program (MUP)which offers rebates to owners and managers of existing multifamily properties to help maximize comprehensive energy efficiency improvements to individual tenant units and common areas for apartment buildings, mobile home parks, and condominium complexes. Rebates are available for products installed in both common areas and units. Additionally, the PG&E Multifamily Upgrade Program (MUP) promotes and facilitates energy-efficient retrofits of multifamily housing (“projects”) through program coordination, technical support, and cash incentives.

In 2017, according to PG&E, its multifamily programs achieved 29,443 MWh in energy savings, while serving 6,317 units.

Last Updated: March 2019

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

In order to assist large building managers with accessing aggregated energy data for building benchmarking, PG&E provides automatic data entry into ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager upon receipt of written consent from each customer responsible for energy purchases. The City of San Francisco and PG&E participated in the US DOE Energy Data Accelerator. In addition, San Francisco, through the Local Government Sustainable Energy Coalition (LGSEC), participated in CPUC’s Energy Data Access proceeding.

Last Updated: March 2019

Renewable Energy Efforts of Energy UtilitiesList All

Renewable Energy Incentives

In 2017, PG&E provided $14,998,004 in incentives for the installation of 14,238 kW of new distributed solar systems, equating to $1,039/kW installed. PG&E offered four different solar incentive programs in 2017, including Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing (MASH), Single Family Affordable Solar Housing (SASH), New Solar Homes Partnership (NSHP), Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP).

The MASH program is currently closed to new applicants and has been replaced by the Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing (SOMAH). SOMAH is a statewide program that aims to install 30 MW of generating capacity by 2030, making solar accessible to low-income ratepayers in the state. The SASH program provides one up-front capacity-based incentive of $3 per watt to qualified low-income homeowners for the installation of solar systems. NSHP provided incentives to encourage home builders to construct new, energy efficient solar homes. NSHP is no longer accepting applications, as the program has ended per Senate Bill 83. SGIP provides financial incentives for business and residential customers installing new, qualifying equipment for generating and storing energy, applying to both renewable and non-renewable technologies.

City-Led Efforts to Decarbonize the Electric Grid

As of June 2018, San Francisco’s Community Choice Aggregation program, CleanPowerSF, has enrolled more than 108,000 customers. An additional 257,000 customers (e.g. nearly all customers citywide) are anticipated to enroll in CleanPowerSF in 2019. To meet demand, CleanPowerSF has signed multiple electricity procurement contracts with utility scale renewables providers. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) has developed 7.5MW of local PV capacity, anchored by the 5 MW Sunset Reservoir project. In addition, SFPUC operates 384.5 MW of hydroelectric resources.

Last Updated: March 2019

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

City-wide water efficiency and goals

The City of San Francisco and PG&E do not offer joint water and energy efficiency programs, yet the city does have water-saving rebates independent of the energy utility. The City has updated codes requiring water-efficient fixtures/systems such as toilets, irrigation systems, and shower heads. Rebates are offered for high-efficiency washers and low-flow toilets, as well as free water saving kits. The City’s water conservation program was expanded to offer custom rebates based on projected savings as well as fixed rebates for common measures, similar to its energy efficiency programs. Additionally, the City provides a rebate for residences building a graywater recycling system on-site.

San Francisco has a goal of saving 5 million gallons of water per day (1,500 million gallons per year) through conservation, by 2018 and 6 million gallons per day by 2035. In FY2017-18, water utilization within San Francisco beat that goal – consuming 64 MGD. As noted in the FY 17-18 Water Resources Division Annual Report, this improvement was supported by a comprehensive suite of policies and programs that help San Francisco residents utilize 42 gallons of water per day – one of the lowest in the state (compared to the California average of 92 gallons per day).

Water plant efficiency and self-generation

Energy efficiency projects have been completed at 11 water and wastewater facilities, with additional efficiency improvements planned as part of ongoing system renewal work. For example, through the Sewer System Improvement Program, the Southeast Treatment Plant is undergoing operational improvements and upgrades that will include increased energy efficiency and resource recovery.

The SFPUC has installed large electric cogeneration plants that utilize digester gas at two of its wastewater treatment plants, Southeast and Oceanside. Though no energy-savings target has been set, these systems generate 2 MW and 1 MW at peak, respectively. The electricity generated is used on-site. The SFPUC has also installed six different solar photovoltaic projects at its facilities, including a 5 MW solar project at Sunset Reservoir.

Last Updated: March 2019

Score: 23.5 out of 30 points
Transportation Summary List All

The transportation authority serving the city of San Francisco is The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District. The district also provides the public transportation for the city and broader metropolitan area, including bus, trolley, and ferry service. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission is the MPO in charge of conducting metropolitan transportation planning. Its area of jurisdiction encompasses San Francisco, and the cities and towns in the Bay Area. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is the city agency charged with managing the city’s transportation network.

Last updated: January 2017

Sustainable Transportation Planning List All

Sustainable Transportation Plan

Connect SF is a multi-agency collaboration to envision, plan, and realize a sustainable, equitable transportation system for San Francisco’s Future. This is a comprehensive roadmap which – though it supports reducing VMT – is predicated on switching from private vehicle mode share to sustainable transport mode share.

VMT/GHG Targets and Stringency

San Francisco has a GHG reduction target for the transportation sector of 40% below 1990 levels by 2025.

Progress Achieved Toward VMT/GHG Targets

Transportation related GHG emissions were 28% below 1990 levels in 2017.

Last Updated: May 2019

Location Efficiency List All

Location Efficient Zoning Codes

San Francisco zoning code has two fundamental components that address density and transit access. The General Plan Housing Element codifies 3 levels of density for residential zoning (low, medium, high). The distribution of these 3 levels is strongly related to public transit resource availability. Additionally, numerous special area plans have been adopted that generally increase the height and density allowed in transit-rich locations and facilitate expansion & improvement of transit infrastructure and services. These are adopted into zoning.

Residential Parking Policies

While San Francisco has had parking maximums in zoning for many years – and eliminated parking requirements for residential, on Dec. 21, 2018, the Mayor signed an ordinance that eliminates minimum parking requirements for all kinds of development citywide. The ordinance went into in January 2019.

Location Efficiency Incentives and Disclosure

SF Planning offers several density bonus programs that favor greater density than the underlying zoning – particularly for affordable housing.

Last Updated: March 2019

Mode Shift List All

Mode Shift Targets

The 2013 San Francisco Climate Action Strategy, called for shifting 50 percent of trips to non-automobile trips by 2017 and 80 percent by 2030.

Progress Achieved Toward Mode Shift Targets

Based on the 2017 Travel Decision Survey, the city has realized the 2017 mode share goal as 52 percent of trips were non-automobile trips (transit, walk and bicycle) and 48 percent of trips were automobiles trips (drive alone, carpool and TNCs).

Complete Streets

San Francisco’s complete streets policy scored an 37.2 out of 100 according to the National Complete Streets Coalition.

Car Sharing

San Francisco Planning Code that requires specific numbers of parking spaces be made available to certified car share organizations in both residential and non-residential uses in all zoning districts.

Bike Sharing

The city has 425.73 docked bike share bikes per 100,000 people.

Last Updated: May 2019

Transit List All

Transportation Funding

San Francisco spends an average of $109.49 per capita on transit.

Access to Transit Services

The city has an All Transit Performance score of 9.6 out of 10.

Last Updated: March 2019

Efficient VehiclesList All

Vehicle Purchase Incentives

PG&E offers an $800 rebate for the purchase of electric vehicles.

Vehicle Infrastructure Incentives

San Francisco does not currently offer incentives for the installing of EV charging infrastructure.

EV Charging Locations

San Francisco has 20.13 publicly available EV charging locations per 100,000 people.

Renewable Charging Incentives

We could not confirm if San Francisco has any incentives for renewable EV charging infrastructure installation.

Last Updated: May 2019

Freight System EfficiencyList All

San Francisco does not have a sustainable freight transportation plan in place nor does it have any policies that address freight efficiency.

Last Updated: March 2019

Clean, Efficient Transportation for Low-Income CommunitiesList All

Affordable New TOD Housing Policy

San Francisco does not have any policies to preserve affordable housing in transit-served areas.

Connecting Existing Affordable Housing Stock to Efficient Transportation Options

SFMTA provides a Lifetime Transit Pass for income-qualified residents.

Low-Income Access to High Quality Transit

30.4% of low-income households (those that earn less than $50k annually) are located near high-quality, all-day transit in San Francisco.     

Last Updated: April 2019