San Francisco Board of Education voted unanimously on Carbon-Neutral Schools Resolution to fight global climate change

Posted Date

San Francisco Board of Education voted unanimously on Carbon-Neutral Schools Resolution to fight global climate change

Press Release

In recognizing its contribution to climate change via the natural gas it uses to heat buildings and the fuels it uses to power vehicles, the San Francisco Board of Education introduced the Carbon-Neutral Schools Resolution, which makes SFUSD the first school district in the nation to propose such aggressive fossil-fuel reduction targets to fight global climate change.

“As an organization whose mission is to serve children, it is incumbent upon us to do all that we can to fight climate change and to model for our children a more sustainable way of life,” said Board Vice President Hydra Mendoza.

“It’s not enough to just talk about the devastating effect of climate change. Leaders in all branches of government need to take action. Currently, 70% of the district’s greenhouse gas emissions come from its buildings and 30% from its vehicles, including buses. We’re setting targets that will dramatically reduce our carbon footprint by 2040.” said the resolution’s co-author, Matt Haney. “We have a responsibility to our students to lead by example. Hopefully this will inspire other cities and school districts to do the same.”


“Since the 2008 to 2010 average baseline, SFUSD has already reduced its emissions dramatically thanks to the district and San Francisco’s commitment to sustainability efforts. Our energy use is down by 22 percent. Gas usage is down by 28 percent and water usage by 29 percent,” said SFUSD’s Director of Sustainability, Nik Kaestner. “The targets the Board is voting on tonight mean we have to accelerate our efforts, which is fitting given the urgency of global climate change.”


The SFUSD Sustainability Office has developed a carbon reduction plan for SFUSD buildings and vehicles. According to the plan, the SFUSD will seek to achieve the following goals as it seeks to phase out fossil fuel use by 2040:


  • New buildings will be designed wherever possible with the goal of using no more energy than they can generate on site.
  • New and modernized buildings will be plumbed for rainwater collection where feasible.
  • Strive to reduce gas usage by 30 percent by 2020, 50 percent by 2030, and 100 percent by 2040.
  • Strive to reduce water usage by 30 percent by 2020 and 50 percent by 2030.


  • All new SFUSD-owned vehicles shall be emissions-free.
  • SFUSD will strive to fuel all diesel-powered buses with renewable diesel by 2020.
  • All SFUSD-owned vehicles will be electric or powered by low-carbon fuels by 2030.


  • SFUSD will strive to generate all of its power on site by 2050.
  • SFUSD will strive to meet 50 percent of water demand via rainwater by 2050.

SFUSD is partnering with other government agencies to work towards its goals. 

SFUSD is a member of the Department of Energy's (DOE) Zero Energy Schools Accelerator. The new SFUSD project requirements mandate that all new construction be Zero-Net-Energy (ZNE) ready and that existing sites are modernized to achieve ZNE over time.

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission provides SFUSD with nearly carbon-free electricity generated by the Hetch Hetchy water system and has committed to installing photovoltaic panels on SFUSD buildings to reduce emissions even further.


Page updated on 09/26/17