Melanie Colburn

Sponsored article: Elaine Forbes details how the Port of San Francisco is on the front lines of advancing climate action policies.

In this series, speakers from USGBC Northern California’s GreenerBuilder conference, held August 1, 2018, in San Francisco, share insights from their sessions. Elaine Forbes, Executive Director of the Port of San Francisco, writes about the city's waterfront.

San Francisco’s waterfront welcomes over 24 million people each year. It is home to iconic landmarks, renowned cultural museums, destinations and activities. The Port of San Francisco manages 7.5 miles of shoreline, from Fisherman’s Wharf to Heron’s Head Park in the Bayview. The Port supports maritime commerce, maintains public open space and access to the Bay, leases space to approximately 500 local businesses and partners with developers to create sustainable communities.

With 7.5 miles of shoreline, the Port is literally on the front lines of advancing climate action policies. The Port and City recently announced a policy to become net zero by 2050. To do this, we need to work with our building community and transition to electrification for all our waterfront developments. It will, in fact, require a creative and deliberate effort to discontinue our reliance on natural gas. Even though natural gas is increasingly used to produce electricity, we know that it is also a potent greenhouse gas. All of our projects moving forward will require electrification. This commitment will redefine how the Port plans and manages the development of public lands.

In early August, the Port issued an RFI (Request for Interest) for Prospective Master and Smaller Tenants for Public Oriented Concepts in selected Embarcadero Historic District Structures, as a call for important information and feedback to shape and inform our solicitation. We are looking at the building community to help us shape our waterfront for the future.

A great example of how our building community supported rehabilitation of our waterfront assets is at Pier 70. The Port always knew about this incredibly beautiful set of Victorian-era and World War-era industrial buildings, closed to public access and hidden from public view. This past spring, we celebrated the groundbreaking for the Pier 70 Mixed-Use District Project, which will fully reopen these lands for the public to once again love. The project will deliver amazing public benefits—in total, more than $750 million.

The sustainability and resiliency elements of the development will provide significant sea level rise protections through site improvements, such as elevating buildings and the Bay Trail to accommodate 66 inches of sea level rise and designing the shoreline with terracing and natural buffers. The project will also generate an estimated $88 million of special taxes to be used for Port-wide sea level rise adaptation and seawall improvements. Other sustainability elements include building to LEED Gold standards and water systems for reuse of nonpotable water on site.

And just up the waterfront from Pier 70 is the Mission Rock and Pier 48 Project. Focusing on the sustainability features, the project confronts the realities of sea level rise by raising the site to withstand 66 inches of sea level rise, transitioning the waterfront China Basin Park to allow flooding in low-lying park areas and committing to 100 percent renewable energy in the new buildings.

I call on our building community to join me in our commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Please join the Port in this commitment to our community, our planet and to a vibrant and sustainable waterfront for the next 100 years.