Inspiring More Green Infrastructure Projects Throughout San Francisco

The SFPUC Green Infrastructure Grant Program thrived in 2020 despite challenges brought by the pandemic. Launched in February of 2019, the grant program has continued to provide funding to innovative public and private green infrastructure projects throughout San Francisco.

The goal of the program is to further encourage onsite green infrastructure with an aim to manage and offset stormwater runoff – think of rain hitting roofs, sidewalks and streets. The grant funds projects that implement green infrastructure technologies such as permeable pavement, rainwater harvesting systems, rain gardens, and rooftop gardens to manage stormwater on properties. Since its inception, the grant program has garnered strong interest from local schools, parks, and religious institutions that see an opportunity to make their property more sustainable, while providing additional greening and educational opportunities on stormwater management and its benefits for the people that use them. 

This past year, two grant awardee schools in San Francisco completed their green projects. Lafayette Elementary School implemented a dry creek bed, which manages rainwater while providing a play area for students that mimics nature. The project also included rain garden planters and landscaping that better absorbs and collects rainwater. The Green Infrastructure Grant awarded Lafayette Elementary nearly $500,000, with the project removing almost 350k gallons of stormwater from the sewer system annually. 

At Bessie Carmichael Middle School, the schoolyard was regraded to direct stormwater to newly installed rain garden planters, which also collect rooftop runoff from disconnected downspouts, improving the permeability of the site and preventing water from flowing into the local sewer system. The project added greenspace, improved the play area and raised awareness about stormwater managements practices for students. 

“When students and teachers return to the school, they will be able to interact with the program’s first stormwater mural, a unique depiction of the stormwater system that is being designed in collaboration with the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts” – Will Logsdon, Program Administrator at the SFPUC. 

The Green Infrastructure Grant awarded Bessie Carmichael nearly $430,000 with the project managing 276k gallons of stormwater each year. 

The Green Infrastructure Grant Program was recognized as a leader in the stormwater space by the California Stormwater Quality Association (CASQA), receiving an award for Best Sustainable Stormwater Program – a significant milestone in the world of stormwater management! The grant program is a collaborative effort with a diverse project team from SFPUC, Lotus WaterIncommon, and Parsons Corporation

“This award, and all the accomplishments of the grant program, are a testament to the hard work this team is doing every day to serve our communities and create a more sustainable San Francisco” – Sarah Bloom, Program Administrator for the SFPUC.

To date, the program has awarded $7.9 million in funding to nine applicants making sustainable stormwater transformations on their properties. With four additional projects in the pipeline, this program has no plans of slowing down anytime soon.

Further information about the grant is available on the grant website and the Green Infrastructure Grant Program Guidebook.