The built environment is responsible for approximately half of San Francisco’s GHG footprint and the majority of energy used throughout the city is in older commercial and residential buildings built prior to the introduction of the building energy codes. Building owners and property managers have limited capacity to manage energy use and it's often difficult to align financial and energy incentives between the owners/managers and tenants/occupants. Additionally, many end-users, especially those in the hard-to-reach residential and small business sectors, lack capital for EE investments and must prioritise non-energy related work over EE upgrades.
San Francisco’s Climate Action Strategy has set near term emission reduction goals of 25% and 40% below baseline by 2017 and 2025 respectively, and the city has committed to a goal of 100% renewable electricity by 2030. To date, San Francisco has achieved a 24% reduction in GHG emissions, including a reduction of over 27,000 metric tons of CO2e annually from EE projects. Just one example of a recent project is the EE upgrades made on Chinatown Development Center’s affordable housing project. The Center reduced energy use by 49,235 kWh and 4,061 therms and saved 30% in annual average utility costs. Thirty-five percent of multi-family EE projects apply to vulnerable community members, reflecting social equity and climate change preparedness components of the approach.
To date, the city's direct implementation activities have resulted in 3,000 commercial, 1,000 multifamily and 500 single family projects, with over $18 million in incentives and $3.8 million in financing provided. On average each project saved $3000 in utility costs. The projects preserve not just energy, but also gas and water, helping protect against drought. The energy upgrades have increased air quality in homes, benefitting health and the project has also supported job growth and contractor training.
Upgrades completed through San Francisco's EE programmes have reduced energy consumption and also helped low and fixed income residents (including seniors), improved quality of life, enhanced health and indoor comfort.
San Francisco’s resiliency plan aims to protect vulnerable populations by providing equitable access to resources, making energy efficiency upgrades more affordable in the small business community and low-income housing. This will become increasingly important as San Francisco works to prevent heat stress morbidity and mortality from extreme heat events and associated air quality impacts, which are expected to increase in frequency and duration. The EE programs support upgrades that will directly improve indoor air quality and conditions to create healthier living environments and lower the incidence of illnesses such as asthma.
Financial incentives of the project include predicted decreased operational costs, increased occupancy rates and property values. Residents and small businesses will see an immediate saving on energy bills, which can be invested elsewhere, strengthening the local economy.