Mayor Gavin Newsom said the legislation, which will apply to both newly constructed buildings and to renovations on existing buildings, will make San Francisco the strictest city in the nation when it comes to green building.

All new commercial buildings over 5,000 square feet, new residential buildings over 75 feet, and renovations on buildings over 25,000 square feet will be expected to meet high standards under LEED (the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System).

The plan is part of the city’s Climate Action Plan, which aims to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2012, based on 1990 levels.

When the plan was drawn up in 2004, it found that energy use in buildings and facilities is responsible for about 50% of San Francisco’s GHG emissions.

In 1990, San Francisco’s energy use resulted in a total of about 4.5m tonnes of CO2 emissions being released into the atmosphere.

“If we want to get serious about addressing the root causes of global warming, then let’s draw down the empty rhetoric and start taking concrete actions,” Mayor Newsom said.

“A lot of people don’t realize that their homes and businesses create a significant portion of our carbon footprint, so today, by signing these strict green building standards into law, we’re saying enough is enough.

“Let’s end the stale promises, emphasize conservation, and tackle climate change on all fronts.”

The Mayor said the tough standards are expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 60,000 tonnes by 2012, saving 220,000MW hours of power.

It is also hoped that it will save 100m gallons of drinking water, reducing waste and storm water by 90m gallons and reduce construction and demolition waste by 700m pounds.

The legislation has been based on the recommendations of the Task Force on Green Buildings, established by the Mayor last year.

The task force was made up of ten members drawn from the city’s development, construction, engineering and financial sectors.

Kate Martin

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