San Francisco Planning’s Better Roofs Ordinance Receives National Recognition for Excellence in Sustainability


San Francisco Planning’s Better Roofs Ordinance Receives National Recognition for Excellence in Sustainability


NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana – San Francisco Planning’s groundbreaking Better Roofs Ordinance has received the American Planning Association’s (APA) Awards for Excellence in Sustainability, recognized as this year’s best Sustainable Policy, Law, or Tool.

The APA’s Sustainable Communities Division (SCD) announced the winners of the fifth annual Awards for Excellence in Sustainability at the 2018 National Planning Conference in New Orleans. The awards honor projects, plans, policies, individuals, and organizations whose work is dedicated to supporting sustainable communities. The SCD supports planners who are committed to planning for sustainable communities by integrating all aspects of sustainability into their work through the combined economic, social, and ecological factors that shape communities.

The San Francisco Better Roofs Ordinance was the culmination of four years of collaborative effort in concert with SPUR, the San Francisco Department of the Environment (SFE), and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC). In dense, urban cities our rooftops are valuable space that can be used more efficiently to benefit our environment and our communities. Living roofs have been shown to have many economic, social and environmental benefits, including improved stormwater management, reduced energy usage, habitat proliferation, and view enhancement.

In October 2015, Planning released The Living Roof Manual, focusing on best practices, guidelines, techniques, and recommendations for designing and implementing living roofs that are climate-and needs-specific to San Francisco. In 2016, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed two pieces of legislation authored by former Supervisor Scott Wiener, in close coordination with San Francisco Planning, the Department of the Environment, and SPUR, requiring most new construction projects to incorporate between 15 and 30 percent of roof space as solar, green roofs, or a blend of both, making San Francisco the first major city in the country to implement this regulation. The legislation went into effect on January 1, 2017.

The Better Roofs Ordinance has also received the 2017 Northern California APA Merit award and 2017 Green Roofs for Healthy Cities Civic Award.

About the APA Sustainable Communities Division: The APA Sustainable Communities Division's goal is to help planners engage in and collaborate on innovative approaches to emerging sustainability issues. More about the Division can be found at

The winners represent extraordinary achievements in eight Sustainable Planning categories. The full list of categories and winners below:

Community Sustainability or Resilience Plan: City of Hermosa Beach,PLAN Hermosa - the City of Hermosa Beach's Integrated General Plan and Local Coastal Program (City of Hermosa Beach, California)

State or Regional Sustainability or Resilience Plan:Thurston Regional Planning Council, Thurston Climate Adaptation Plan: Climate Resilience Actions for Thurston County and South Puget Sound (Olympia, Washington)

Sustainable Policy, Law, or Tool: San Francisco Planning Department & San Francisco Department of the Environment, Better Roofs Ordinance (San Francisco, California)

Sustainable Urban Design Plan or Development Project:City of Meriden, Meriden 2020: A Comprehensive Plan for Downtown Meriden (Meriden, Connecticut)

Sustainable Park, Recreation, or Open Space Project:City of Miramar, Miramar Fruit & Vegetable Garden (Miramar, Florida)

Sustainable Transportation Project:Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Metro Expo Line Phase 2 (Los Angeles County, California)

Sustainable Green Infrastructure Project:Capital Region Water, Community Greening Plan: A Green Stormwater Infrastructure Plan for Harrisburg (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania)

Leadership in Sustainability: Environmental Compliance & Sustainability Department, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Los Angeles County, California)



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