San Francisco targets 100% renewable energy by 2020

The government of San Francisco is strengthening its commitment to renewable energy by installing solar panels on its City Hall roof.


The city government will begin calling for bids from solar panel companies next month for the mounting of photovoltaic cells on the roofs of the San Francisco City Hall and the Davies Symphony Hall, a local music hub. Solar panel installations will also push on in public buildings in government subdivisions like Chinatown and Potrero Hill.

“We want the whole city in 2020 to be powered 100 percent by renewable energy,” said Edwin Lee, Mayor of San Francisco, in a speech before solar energy enthusiasts last week. “Not just municipal,” said Lee. “Everybody has got to do that. Everybody. We want the whole city in 2020 to be 100 per cent renewable energy.”

The Mayor is encouraging an increase in reliance on renewable energy not only for the public sector, but for all sectors in society. At present, the city produces 17 megawatts of solar electricity. The installation of solar panels in public buildings is a project that supports the wider initiative of the state of California to reduce the rate of its carbon emissions and energy usage.

California, although a national leader in environmental protection and energy efficiency, is the 12th largest emitter of carbon globally. In response to the problem, the state government passed its Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which seeks to create a comprehensive program to decrease greenhouse gas emissions from all sources within the state. The Act compels the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to establish market mechanisms and guidelines to pull down California’s greenhouse gas emissions back to 1990 levels by 2020.

The installation of solar panels on the roof of the City Hall and the Davies Symphony Hall was initiated over a year ago. Its implementation was delayed due to conflicts among labor unions as to who was authorized to conduct solar work. According to information from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), the SFPUC has decided to move on with the project despite the conflict.

- Edited by Gust Gianos, Consulting-Specifying Engineer,

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