City College of San Francisco Adopts Resolution Supporting a Green New Deal and Climate Action and Sustainability Plan at CCSF

Climate action plan adopted with the support of over 18 environmental & community organizations

February 2, 2024 (San Francisco) – City College of San Francisco adopted a policy to establish a climate action and sustainability plan after a second reading reviewing the policy and vote at the college’s Board of Trustees. The policy authored by Board President Alan Wong, which had been worked on since 2022 with City College administration, requires the college to assess the school’s current state on a range of major environmental and sustainability measurements and set incremental benchmarks for improvement over the next decade.

As a separate government agency from the City of San Francisco, the college doesn’t fall under the City’s environmental policies and is governed by more lenient state standards. The newly adopted standards set City College on the ambitious path to: eliminate greenhouse gas emissions, require green building standards, shift gas appliances and systems to electric, increase water conservation, reduce consumption and eliminate landfill, develop sustainable procurement standards, get a zero emissions vehicle fleet, and serve ethical and sustainable food on campus.

This policy moves forward as City College constructs new facilities at a breakneck pace using funds from a $845 million facilities bond measure passed by voters in 2020. New buildings in progress include a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Mathematics (STEAM) building and Performing Arts and Education Center (PAEC).

The plan is incrementally phased in through a ten-year process and provides City College a fiscally responsible way to upgrade systems and buildings through regular replacement, attrition, and multi-year building and procurement planning.

“I remember the eerie San Francisco day when the sun failed to appear and the sky turned blood orange in September 2020,” said Wong. “While I had seen such apocalyptic scenes when I was deployed by the National Guard to protect life and property during wildfires, as a San Francisco native used to the fresh ocean breeze and fog, seeing it in my hometown was unimaginably dystopian. That got me thinking about how we all are responsible for taking action and doing our part to turn the tide of climate change. This is our opportunity to do that at City College. As a public educational institution and one of the largest property owners in the Bay Area, we have a moral responsibility to act and set an example for our young people and community.”

Under the policy, in 2026 the college will finish assessing its baselines for greenhouse gas emissions, energy usage, water conservation, consumption and waste, and develop a sustainable procurement policy. By 2031, City College will meet its first sustainability benchmarks. The final sustainability benchmarks for City College are in 2035, including: reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 100%, requiring new buildings certified zero carbon and 75% reduction of natural gas use in buildings, zero landfill waste, and 100% of fleet vehicles having zero emissions.

Wong compromised with City College administration facilities staff by slowing down the first initial benchmark years from 2025 to 2026 and 2030 to 2031 in order to provide staff more time to plan and implement the resolution.

The resolution also calls for the designation of a Sustainability Officer at the college to carry out the goals of the policy, retaining the services of an expert to advise on the Climate Action and Sustainability Plan, and annual reports to monitor progress and benchmarks.

“The passage of this policy was a monumental step to do our part locally for a more sustainable future for our students and young people but it is just the start,” said Wong. “Now City College needs to truly test its commitment to sustainability by ensuring that we are meeting the policy’s benchmarks in 2026, 2031, and 2035.”

The policy was supported by over 18 environmental and community organizations, including 350 San Francisco, San Francisco Climate Emergency Coalition, San Francisco Bay Physicians for Social Responsibility, Citizens Climate Lobby, San Francisco Tomorrow, Mothers Out Front, 1000 Grandmothers, Friends of the Urban Forest, GreenAction, San Francisco League of Conservation Voters, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, Emerald Cities, Save the Bay, Climate Reality Project, California Environmental Voters, Gray Panthers, Older Women’s League and Sunnyside Neighborhood Association.