How to Have a Green City - San Francisco

So I don't live in San Francisco, and I never will. I did, however, go to college in San Francisco for 5 years and I spent many nights at school so I almost lived there. After school I ran a small business in the City for 3 years.



San Francisco is a city known for cutting edge thought, design, technology and culture. It’s a very “green” city and is currently undergoing a major infrastructure revitalization effort that incorporates low-impact design and green infrastructure. Culturally, it is a global melting pot, and it is a port city. This makes it socially, economically and ethnically diverse city. It is also a strong local art and industry hub. However, real estate inflation and over-population are forcing a migration of some of the most talented creatives out of the city and into neighboring cities like Oakland.

Local Food

California produces most of the country’s agriculture and much of its meat. San Francisco has a wealth of resources from which to draw, including all local American food, and tons of imported food from Asia and Europe. Local Californian cuisine is fresh, most of it is considered nouveau-French, and in the spirit of Napa Valley, we have everything that Europe has and much more of it. The food here is rich, fresh, high quality, and varied.

Local Economy

San Francisco is very close to Silicon Valley, only a 45-minute drive without traffic. Many bright and creative types flock to Silicon Valley from all over the world, for work, education and simply to immerse themselves in a unique culture. A lot of these migrants desire to live in San Francisco because it is such a vibrant, open-minded and diverse city. Many people find it hard to leave, though the cost of living is obscene. The City also has a large entertainment industry, a significant financial district, and a well known arts district. The City is constantly undergoing construction, either in the form of revitalization efforts, upgrades and maintenance to infrastructure, or new projects. Wages are higher in the City, as is the cost of living. San Francisco is a city that is friendly to small businesses and advocates, protects and encourages the growth of its local economy. Some of the City’s few remaining historic working class neighborhoods are under threat of gentrification, but this is a problem many large cities face.

Local Waste Management

San Francisco utilizes Recology, a state of the art zero waste recycling center. As California just became the first state to ban plastic bags, San Francisco paved the way by being one of the first cities to ban plastic bags. It has also become one of the first cities to ban plastic bottles.

Advanced Building Codes

The Department of Public Works, The Public Utilities Commission and the Department of the Environment all have green initiatives and sustainability plans that set lofty goals for public work.  The San Francisco Green Building Code, adopted in 2008, requires LEED certification for new construction and renovations on all public projects.

Education, Advocacy & Networking

The City is also a hub for professional organizations of nearly every discipline. Many public and private institutions of higher education exist in the City, and the City is known for incredible college prep and alternative education models. Various immersion and bilingual schools also abound in this culturally diverse city.

Alternative Transportation

Public transportation is huge in the City, but it’s also a bit outdated and disjointed. There are many areas in the small city that public transportation will not reach. Traffic is very bad, and riding a bicycle is dangerous, but thankfully pedestrians have the right-of-way, and it is a walkable city. Designated bicycle paths permeate the city, and greenways and green corridors connect neighborhoods and people.

Grassroots Organizations

The grassroots activist community in San Francisco is very strong and for each and every cause you could imagine, there is an organization or meet-up group. A lot of these groups center around university campuses, but each neighborhood and district has organized change agents who are dedicated to