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Largest San Fransisco buildings to convert to 100% renewable energy by 2022, remainder by 2030

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved an ordinance that requires commercial buildings over 50,000 square feet to begin relying on electricity generated from renewable sources.

The legislation, introduced by Mayor London Breed, was passed by unanimous vote and amends existing environment code for all non-residential buildings. The ordinance requires the city’s largest buildings, more than 500,000 square feet, to rely fully on renewable electricity by 2022. In 2024, buildings larger than 50,000 square feet will have to start converting to renewable electricity. The goal is to have all those buildings using renewable electricity by 2030.

The ordinance comes after Berkeley became the first city in the nation in July to ban the installation of natural gas lines in new homes. But San Francisco’s measure is different, focusing on existing and new commercial buildings and not banning gas. Breed’s office called it the first such ordinance of its kind in the country. If the mayor signs it, as expected, it will go into effect in 30 days.

“We must continue to lead the way in the fight against climate change, and we know that the building sector is a major contributor of climate-changing greenhouse gases,” Breed said in a statement. “Transitioning our large buildings to 100 percent renewable energy is an important step towards making San Francisco an even more sustainable city and continuing the progress we have made with CleanPowerSF.”

San Francisco’s legislation will reduce the city’s emissions by 21% in hopes that by 2030, the city will rely entirely on renewable electricity. Hetch Hetchy Power, CleanPowerSF and PG&E provide 100% renewable energy options.

“To achieve our goal of net zero emissions by 2050, we need to use less energy, and we need a cleaner renewable energy supply,” said Supervisor Vallie Brown at the meeting Tuesday. “We must change, we will change.”

Brown was a co-sponsor of the legislation. Supervisors Ahsha Safaí, Aaron Peskin, Matt Haney, Rafael Mandelman and Hillary Ronen were also co-sponsors.

Nearly half of citywide emissions come from buildings, and half of those emissions come from the commercial sector, city officials said. The legislation is part of Breed’s vision of transforming San Francisco into an “all-electric city” by replacing the use of fossil fuels with renewable electricity in the building and transportation sectors.

San Francisco’s building sector is responsible for 46% of emissions in the city and the transportation sector is responsible for 44%, city officials said. Already, San Francisco has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions 36% below levels from 1990.

In April, Breed directed the Department of the Environment to form a task force that would determine a process for all buildings to go electric. The task force will determine a road map for buildings by 2022, officials said.


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