The council, which announced the awards earlier this week at the climate talks in Durban, South Africa, also recognized Mexico City, Tokyo, Birmingham in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Singapore for their work supporting sustainable building.
"It's a real honor to get this award," said Melanie Nutter, director of San Francisco's Department of Environment. "What it speaks to is a number of years of commitment by city leaders, city agencies, businesses large and small -- a range of stakeholders who have been part of coalition efforts to move the ball forward by making buildings more sustainable and reducing greenhouse gas emissions."
Neither Nutter, nor San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee were able to acknowledge the honor in person, but Lee sent his thanks in a videotaped message.
The honors conferred by the World Green Building Council inaugurated the group's Government Leadership Awards for Excellence in City Policy for Green Building. San Francisco received the council's Best Green Building Policy award.
The city has a range of measures that are designed to make the built environment more sustainable. They span the San Francisco's 2008 Green Building Ordinance, which requires new structures to meet green building standards, to an ordinance adopted in February that requires energy performance benchmarking and auditing for existing commercial buildings. The measure on building energy performance took effect this past fall. In addition, with business and NGO partners, the city recently created a green leasing toolkit for commercial buildings and launched a PACE program for financing commercial building retrofits.
The award marks the third major green building accolade for the city this year. Siemens named San Francisco the greenest city in North America in June. The same month, the Green Building Opportunity Index deemed San Francisco No. 1 among the 30 largest office markets in the U.S. for a second consecutive year.
Here are the other the World Green Building Council honors that were awarded this week:
- Climate Action Leadership Award: Mexico City for its climate action plan and its global leadership on the Mexico City Pact (Global Cities Covenant on Climate).
- Urban Retrofit Award: Birmingham, UK, for the Birmingham City Council's Energy Savers Programme.
- Regional Leadership Award: Singapore for its Green Building Masterplan.
- Industry Transformation Award: New York City for its Greener, Greater Buildings Plan.
- Most Groundbreaking Policy Award: Tokyo, Japan, for the Tokyo Cap-and-Trade Program.
The council commended New York City, saying the components of its Greener, Greater Buildings Plan make up one of the more comprehensive sets of energy efficiency policies in the U,S.
Adopted in 2009, the plan requires:
- Any renovation affecting energy use to conform to the city's energy efficiency standards.
- Energy performance benchmarking, auditing and retrocommissioning for large commercial buildings.
- Lighting upgrades and sub-metering of large, non-residential tenant spaces, giving tenants information about their energy usage.
The plan also addresses workforce training related to boosting building energy performance and provides for a financing mechanism for energy efficiency retrofit projects.
Photo of San Francisco via Shutterstock.com.