Last October, my company, Clean Edge, published a report, Harnessing San Francisco's Clean-Tech Future, outlining how San Francisco could implement programs and strategies to become a leader in the clean-technology sector, with a focus on clean energy and transportation. The report, commissioned by the Mayor's office and the city's Department of the Environment, offered a ten-point plan to help the city play a central role in pursuing clean-technology development and attracting new business and jobs.
Just before Thanksgiving last year, I, along with former U.S. EPA administrator William Reilly, were called in to brief Mayor Gavin Newsom on the report. I entered the Mayor's office much like a Master's candidate, fully prepped to defend my thesis. To my pleasant surprise, Newsom began the meeting by pointing to the report and saying, "This is great. Let's do it."
The ensuing conversation was, suffice to say, pretty easy.
Still, this was, after all, big-city government. And while I had long admired Newsom's green politics and risk-taking initiatives, I left his office with a healthy skepticism about how much would actually get done.
Some ten months later, the Mayor's office called again, asking us to update the report. It turned out my skepticism was dead wrong. Five of the ten recommendations had, to some degree, already been accomplished. Two others were underway. Only three hadn't yet been fully addressed.
That updated report is being published today and can be downloaded (PDF) here. It's a model of what any city, state, or region can do to attract job-creating companies focusing on clean energy, alternative transportation, organic products, biobased materials, and other goods and services that fall under the "clean-tech" moniker.
San Francisco's initiative will be guided by a newly formed Clean Technology Advisory Council, chaired by Bill Reilly, charged with promoting the city's clean-tech vision and inviting clean-tech firms to make their homes within San Francisco. (I've been honored to be named to that council.)
In addition, the Mayor, Board of Supervisors, and city agencies have developed a three-part shared vision for clean technology in San Francisco:
to create high-skilled, high-wage clean-tech jobs; to promote a cleaner and healthier environment; and to reduce the City's dependence on fossil fuels by investing in clean energy research and development. To achieve these goals, the City is pursuing four broad strategies: 1) investing in the industries of the future, 2) promoting the construction and renovation of high-performance, energy-efficient buildings, 3) improving the environmental aspects of its landscape, and 4) diversifying its energy sources.
Among the works in progress:
There's more, which you can read in today's report.
All told, a pretty impressive first-year report card. Indeed, I’ll give the city an "A."