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Task Forces as Strategy for Green Change

Task force strategy focuses attention and expertise on solutions with leadership access

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California business outreach conservation Task forces can provide an "easy first step" in solving a community-wide problem. And climate change is certainly a global community wide problem! But they can also be used by companies and organizations for internal greening.

Task forces members can focus attention and political power on a pressing situation. And green building is just one issue needing that king of focused attention. Other areas are greener transportation, habitat-rich open spaces in urban areas, forestry management, and green chemistry throughout many sectors.

Task forces can bring a wide variety of players in an issue together to discuss and prioritize practical approaches to solve a common problem. And then they can pass their input on to elected officials or management, who will value their input because it carries the weight of a "systematic" approach to the issue...and because they asked for, or endorsed the formation of the task force in the first place!

San Francisco's recent foray into "task force strategy" is paying off. Here's the result ... followed by the announced taskforce that began the process:

Green Building Task Force Completes Its Work

SAN FRANCISCO-Mayor Gavin Newsom’s plan to have San Francisco implement the nation’s most stringent building development standards moved a step closer to reality this week. The city’s Building Inspection Commission has voted unanimously to send an ordinance onto the city’s Board of Supervisors for consideration sometime in April. The ordinance requires developers and renovators of larger residential and commercial buildings to achieve progressively higher levels of LEED certification from the US Green Building Council in the coming years, potentially increasing their development costs by up to 5%.
  • The ordinance requires large projects--commercial and residential projects over 25,000 sf or 75 feet in height--to meet the base level of LEED certification starting in 2008. Large commercial projects would have to achieve LEED Silver certification starting in 2009 and LEED Gold staring in 2010. Large residential projects would have to achieve LEED Silver starting in 2010.

  • Mid-sized buildings would have to complete a LEED checklist but would not be required to achieve any LEED credits or points (the basis for the rating system) until 2009.

  • Small and mid-size residential projects, starting in 2009, would be required to achieve 25 points from GreenPointRated, a rating system of BuildItGreen, a professional nonprofit membership organization that promotes energy- and resource-efficient buildings in California.


SAN FRANCISCO, CA – At the close of Earth Week, Mayor Newsom today announced that by mid-June, his Green Building Task Force would issue recommendations for increasing the number and quality of green buildings in San Francisco.

Assembled as part of his Clean and Green Initiative and Climate Action Plan, the Mayor’s Green Building Task Force is charged with developing expanded green building standards for major new private construction projects in San Francisco.

The Task Force is composed of leaders in the fields of sustainable design, real estate development, finance and construction and will advise the Planning Department, the Department of Building Inspection, the Department of the Environment and other city agencies on the development of new regulations and incentive programs to support the construction of green buildings in the City.

The Task Force follows the successful introduction of new priority permitting for private development projects that meet a minimum ‘gold’ standard under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification process. In 2004, the City mandated that all City projects meet - at minimum – the LEED ‘silver’ standard.

"In just a few short months, the City’s fast-track permitting process has resulted in more than a dozen proposals for new green buildings," said Mayor Newsom. "The Green Building Task Force has built on that momentum and will look at the next steps that we can take to keep San Francisco at the forefront of environmentally responsible urban development," continued the Mayor.

As part of its mandate, the Task Force will also consider additional incentives to foster environmentally sensitive design and greater sustainability features in new development projects.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the construction and operation of conventional buildings uses 35% of all energy the nation consumes, and is responsible for 35% of the material that goes to landfills. In addition, conventional buildings use 30% of all wood and other raw materials consumed and contribute to 35% of the carbon dioxide produced nationwide.

In contrast, green buildings maximize energy efficiency and resource utilization. Green buildings have significant advantages in providing healthy indoor environments for employees, employers, and residents.

Corporate productivity studies show natural lighting and natural ventilation in offices can improve employee productivity by as much as sixteen percent.

Green Building Task Force members include:

  • Ms. Kirsten Ritchie of Gensler, an international design firm
  • Ms. Margie O’Driscoll of the American Institute of Architects
  • Mr. Ken Cleaveland of the Building Owners and Managers Association
  • Mr. Ezra Mersy of Jackson Pacific Ventures, a San Francisco-based housing developer
  • Mr. Charles Breidinger, a San Francisco-based engineer, developer and member of the Building Inspection Commission’s Code Advisory Committee
  • Mr. Ken Seibel of Tishman Speyer, an international property development and management firm
  • Mr. Peter Liu of the New Resource Bank, a financier of sustainable projects and organizations
  • Mr. Bill Worthen of Simon and Associates, a San Francisco-based green building consulting firm
  • Mr. Mike Kerwin of Lorax Development, a local construction firm specializing in sustainable design
  • Mr. Phil Williams of Webcor, a California-based construction and project management firm
  • Staff from the Mayor’s Office of City Greening, Building Department, Planning Department, and Department of the Environment

SOURCE:San Francisco Mayor's office

Edited by Carolyn Allen
| leadership | san francisco | green building |


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