Program News

10 December 2014

Offsetting GHG emissions by Using Green Roofs

Posted in Program News, In The News

Learn about the benefits of green roofs

Green house gas (GHG) emissions are the driving force behind climate change. With more and more adverse effects being felt around the world there is an increasing need to find ways of mitigating GHG emissions. Green infrastructure can provide ways of alleviating some of the burdens from the GHG we all create.

"Vegetation, soils, and natural processes to manage water and create healthier urban environments,"1 is how the US EPA defines green infrastructure. Depending on the size of the project, green infrastructure can have different purposes and benefits. At the city or county level, green infrastructure could be natural areas that provide habitat, cleaner air, and cleaner water. In a neighborhood or at a specific site, green infrastructure could be a stormwater system that imitates nature by absorbing and storing water. Some examples of green infrastructure are green roofs, permeable pavement, rain gardens and planter boxes. One, all or a combination of these elements can be used together depending on the extent of the project.

Green roofs provide the most diverse set of benefits enjoyed by the public and private sectors. Not only do green roofs help to provide stormwater management but also improved air quality and local job creation as well as moderation of urban heat island effect.2 The urban heat island effect is when built up areas are hotter than nearby rural area which can affect communities by increasing summertime peak energy demand, air conditioning costs, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.3 These are all beneficial to the public. For the private sector, a green roof can help provide increased energy efficiency, fire retardation and noise reduction.

According to the International Green Roof Association green roofs have three distinct forms: extensive, semi-intensive and intensive, which are differentiated mostly by the depths of their growing medium. Extensive green roofs are characterized by a mineral substrate layer [that] is not very deep, usually about 2 ½ – 7 ¾ inches. A semi-intensive green roof is a mixture of the extensive and intensive forms and has, a deeper substrate level commonly 4 ¾ - 10 inches. With intensive green roofs the substrate layer tends to be 6 – 15 ¾ inches but can be as much as 40 inches if on an underground garage.4


Across the world there are many examples of green roofs. Green roofs or sod roofs in Northern Scandinavia have been around for centuries. The modern trend started when green roofs were developed in Germany in the 1960s and has since spread to many countries. This relatively new method of creation for modern green roofs is a system of artificial layers placed over roofs to support growing medium and vegetation. In 2010, the Victorian Desalination Project was built with a "living tapestry" of 98,000 Australian indigenous plants over a roof area spanning more than 279,862 square feet and was the largest Australian green roof project at the time. In Canada, in 2008, the Vancouver Convention Centre installed a 261,360 square foot living roof of indigenous plants and grasses on its West building, making it the largest example of a green roof in the Canadian region.5 Q-Architecture, one of the recognized Green Businesses of the San Francisco Green Business Program, was recently awarded for their work and ongoing efforts in China and Hong Kong. One of their most recent projects is scheduled to be one of the largest examples of a green roof in Asia: the 14,280 square foot green roof for the A-Shoes Mall in Dongguan, Guangdong Province.

A Shoe Mall

There has been a surge in green roof projects here in the United States as well. One of the largest stretches of extensive green roof can be found at Ford Motor Company's River Rouge Plant, Dearborn, Michigan, where 450,000 square feet of assembly plant roofs are covered with sedum and other plants. Built atop the Millennium Park Garage, Chicago's 1,067,220 square foot Millennium Park is considered one of the largest intensive green roofs in the world.5

Many people say, "I would like to get a green roof but I do not think I can." If this is the case and you live in a place that is not a good candidate for a green roof, there are a number of things you can do to "green" your rooftop. Look into cool roof products, which are made of a highly reflective type of paint, a sheet covering, or highly reflective tiles or shingles designed to reflect more sunlight and absorb less heat than a standard roof.6 Putting potted plants on your roof can have some of the positive water-absorbing and cleaning effects of a green roof. Collect rain water in a barrel and reuse it, or install a solar hot water heater or solar panels to help with save energy. Promote the benefits of green roofs in your community by asking your neighborhood library, school, or congregation to consider getting a green roof.7 These options provide the same benefits as a green roof, i.e. stormwater management, improved air quality and moderation of the urban heat island effect. All of which contribute to decreasing GHG emissions and hence lessening the impacts of climate change. By "greening" roofs we can stop a great deal of the GHG from entering the atmosphere where it does the most harm.


1. "What is Green Infrastructure?". US EPA, n.d. Web. 10 Nov 2014
2. "Green Roof Benefits". Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, n.d. Web. 10 Nov 2014
3. "Heat Island Effect". US EPA, n.d. Web. 10 Nov 2014
4. "Green Roof Types". International Green Roof Association, n.d. Web. 10 Nov 2014
5. "Green Roof". Wikipedia, The Online Encyclopedia, n.d. Web. 10 Nov 2014
6. "Cool Roofs". US DOE, n.d. Web. 10 Nov 2014
7. Novey, Joel. "Is a Green Roof Right for You?". Green America: Living Green. Green America Magazine. July/August 2007. Web. 10 Nov 2014
8. Gr-Compenents. GIF. About Green Roofs. Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, n.d. Web. 10 Nov 2014
9. ShoeMall_GreenRoof. PDF. Q-Architecture. Email. 8 Dec 2014

31 October 2014

Water Recycling: Answer to Water Scarcity?

Posted in Program News, In The News

Learn more about water recycling

The amount of water on Earth has remained constant for millions of years. When ocean water evaporates it comes back as rainfall and the cycle continues. With less than one percent of the world’s water available for human use, the U.N. warns that half the world population will face water scarcity by 2030.1 Accelerated by climate change, population growth and the scarcity of fresh water resources such as rivers and lakes, especially in the arid regions of the world the need for additional water supplies is critical. One viable resource is recycled or reclaimed water.

But what is recycled or reclaimed water? The US EPA defines water recycling as reusing treated wastewater for beneficial purposes such as agricultural and landscape irrigation, industrial processes, toilet flushing, and replenishing a ground water basin (referred to as ground water recharge) 2. In this instance the terms recycled and reclaimed are used synonymously.

Water recycling is most commonly described as either "unplanned" or "planned." An example of unplanned water recycling is when one city draws its water supplies from a river that has received wastewater discharge from the cities upstream. Water from these rivers has been reused, treated, and put back into the water supply numerous times before the last downstream user receives it. Planned projects are those that are developed with the goal of reusing recycled water for some beneficial purpose.2

The history of recycled water is an extensive one. For nearly 100 years, highly treated reclaimed water has been used in the United States.3 In San Francisco recycling water dates back to the early 1900’s when partially treated wastewater and groundwater were used to turn the Golden Gate Park area from barren sand dunes into the lush garden spot you see today. Los Angeles County's sanitation districts have provided treated wastewater for landscape irrigation in parks and golf courses since 1929.4

There are many places to see examples of water reuse outside the US as well. Israel treats 80% of its sewage (400 billion liters or 1 trillion gallons a year), and 100% from the Tel Aviv metropolitan area is treated and reused as irrigation water for agriculture and public works.5 The second largest waste reclamation program in the world is in Spain, where 12% of the nation's waste is treated.6 And as Australia continues to battle the 7–10-year drought, nationwide, reclaimed effluent is becoming a popular option. Two major capital cities in Australia, Adelaide and Brisbane, have already committed to adding reclaimed wastewater to their dwindling dams.

There are also some innovative systems that you can view yourself that are closer to home. The EcoCenter at Heron’s Head Park is one of only two buildings in San Francisco that treats its own wastewater. Going beyond conventional treatment, the processes at the EcoCenter involve irradiation and the incorporation of a constructed wetland for further purification.7 You can sign up for a free tour by clicking here. Another tour you can take is at one of the SFPUC wastewater treatment plants. For information on when the next tours will be given follow the link. With California being squeezed dry by drought, we should all look for ways to utilize all the water resources we have. Recycled water could provide one potential way to offset the large water demand of Californians.


1. Monks, Kieron. From toilet to tap: Getting a taste for drinking recycled waste water. CNN World, 1 May 2014. Web. 8 Oct. 2014

2. Water Recycling and Reuse: The Enviromental Benefits. US EPA Region 9, n.d. Web. 8 Oct. 2014

3. Sustainable Solutions for a Thirsty Planet. Water Reuse Association, n.d. Web. 8 Oct. 2014

4. Reclaimed Water. Wikipedia The Free Encylopedia, 30 Sept. 2014. Web. 8 Oct. 2014

5. Rabinovitch, Ari. "Arid Israel recycles waste water on grand scale." Reuters Africa, 14 Nov. 2010. Web. 8 Oct. 2014

6. Lidman, Melanie. "Israel is the world's leading waste water recycler." The Jerusalem Post, 6 Aug. 2010. Web. 8 Oct. 2014

7. The EcoCenter at Heron's Head Park. Port of San Francisco, n.d. Web. 8 Oct. 2014

8. Diagram of Municipal Wastewater Treatment. 2002. Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Sewage Biosolids - Managing Urban Nutrients Responsibly for Crop Production. Web. 8 Oct. 2014

11 January 2013

Want to be an SF Green Business? Register today!

Posted in Program News

Register your business here!

Want to be an SF Green Business? Register today!

Are you interested in being a recognized Green Business?

Start the registration here to get your online checklist:

Its quick.  Its simple.  Its good for your business!



12 July 2012

Congratulations to our newest Green Business: Made In the Haight!

Posted in Program News

Congratulations to our newest Green Business: Made In the Haight!

Made In the Haight is now officially recognized as a San Francisco Green Business!

24 February 2012

SF Green Business Newsletter Feb. 2012

Posted in Program News

SFGBP February Newsletter

SF Green Business Newsletter Feb. 2012

Our 6th Annual Green Business Awards Reception was a big hit!
On January 18, 2012, the San Francisco Green Business Program and partners, SF Public Utilities Commission and SF Department of Public  Health celebrated all of the Green Businesses recognized in 2011.


Over 250 members of our green business community filled the beautifully decorated Green Room of the Veteran's War Memorial Building to show support for our 48 newly recognized businesses, the glowing atmosphere enhanced by the City Hall backdrop.  Our wonderful sponsors provided delicious local, organic hor d'oeuvres throughout the night as well as delightful beer and wine tastings.  

Director of the SF Department of the Environment, Melanie Nutter, addressed the green businesses.  She spoke of the leadership and drive that each business had to improve not only themselves but the larger community.  With huge world views, these businesses where taking local real world action.

The awards reception had begun!  All of the newly recognized Green Businesses proudly stepped on stage to receive not only the acknowledgement they deserved from their peers but a beautifully crafted award plaque.  With the help of all of our generous sponsors, a prize raffle was also held!  Eight exciting prizes were given out to our lucky winners.

As the evening went on, our green business community was able to connect with each other and network the night away.  Once again, the annual Green Business Awards Reception was a success for all!

To view pictures of the event please visit our blog!



SF Green Business Workshop
February 28, 2012         12-1pm        11 Grove St. 

Have you been thinking about going Clipboardthrough the Green Business Program?  Don't know where to start?  Attend our SF Green Business Workshop on February 28, 2012 to learn more about the program, process, available resources, rebates, audits, and more! Sign up here.  This is a great event to attend to meet the SF Green Business team in person and have your questions answered. For more information, visit the event page.  


Green Business Bites
  • Tax season is just starting.  Don't stress!  Here are some great tax tips provided by one of our recognized green businesses, Glick & Associates, to help you this year.  For example, did you know you have two extra days this year to file your taxes?  Take advantage of these tax tips today. 
  •  Nominate a business, your business, activists, yourself, or an organization for the U.S. EPA Environmental Awards 2012!  Deadline is February 21, 2012.  Below are the categories for the awards:
    • Children's Environmental Health
    • Clean Technology
    • Climate Change Champion
    • Educational Leadership
    • Efficient Water Infrastructure
    • Environmental Justice Champion
    • Green Business of the Year
    • Green Chemistry
    • Green Government
    • Sustainable Agriculture Champion
    • Tribal Environmental Protection
    • Zero Waste Advocate

  Congratulations to our newest SF Green Businesses!

Do YOU like our Green Business Facebook page?

GB Facebook

So far over 725 people like the SF Green Business Facebook page! Please let your customers and staff know about this new resource that helps build community and awareness of Green Businesses in San Francisco

05 November 2011

Make the deadline to become a recognized Green Business of 2011!

Posted in Program News

We can assist you to become a recognized Green Business

Make the deadline to become a recognized Green Business of 2011!

Calling all in process businesses! Have you had your site visit? Received your final list of To Dos? Met all compliance requirements? And are sooo close to completing the recognition process? Well get on your feet, get the ball rolling, and connect with the SF Green Business Program again! If you are able to complete the Green Business recognition process by December 31, 2011 with compliance and full verification, you can be including as a 2011 recognized Green Business. Our annual awards reception is just around the corner in January and you too can be one of the amazing businesses receiving our Green Business Award plaque. Contact Anna Frankel, Green Business Coordinator (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or Kevin Kumataka, Green Business Associate (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) to touch base about your business. We are both here to help your business complete this process by December 31, 2011 so you may be included in this prestigious awards reception. Please contact us so we may best assist you to become a recognized Green Business of the City & County of San Francisco!

21 April 2008

San Francisco to honor local environmentally responsible business leaders on Earth Day

Posted in Program News

SAN FRANCISCO – San Francisco will honor close to one hundred Green Businesses at a reception hosted by the City's Green Business Program on Tuesday, April 22, from 5-8pm. SF Green Businesses have integrated environmentally responsible practices into their operations and met the City's stringent criteria for conserving resources, preventing pollution, and minimizing waste.

"San Francisco Green Businesses are leading the way in helping the City meet its aggressive Zero Waste and greenhouse gas reduction goals," said Jared Blumenfeld, Director of the San Francisco Department of the Environment.

Local businesses from dental practices and architecture firms to restaurants and hotels are demonstrating that green business practices not only protect the environment and create healthier communities, but they often save money and attract customers. To comply with program requirements, businesses recycle and compost, use recycled paper, switch to low-flow toilets and energy-saving bulbs, provide benefits to employees taking public transportation, use less-toxic cleaning products, and more.

"We're saving money on energy and doing our part for the environment, and we enjoy being part of a community of like-minded people," said Art Kane of Toner Cartridge Service in Hunter's Point, a family-owned business that remanufactures toner cartridges. "Green Business is a win-win situation for everybody."

The SF Green Business Program is a partnership of the Department of the Environment, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, and the Department of Public Health.