Enhancing the city’s role as a carbon sink: the San Francisco experience - architecture and design

Enhancing the city’s role as a carbon sink: the San Francisco experience



What is a “carbon sink,” and how can it help us fight climate change" Carbon sinks act like sponges that soak up more carbon from the atmosphere than they release. We define the process by which we remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as “carbon sequestration.” The most effective carbon sinks use our natural systems (i.e., forests, wetlands, agricultural lands and coastal ecosystems), but buildings also play an essential role. To achieve net-zero by 2040, we need to consider carbon sinks as a means to amplify our efforts to reduce emissions, and we need to measure the efficacy of carbon sinks because good data supports meaningful policy and design.
Case in point: the City and County of San Francisco updated its Climate Action Plan in 2021, actively using a data-driven approach to define initiatives to sequester carbon. One key area identified in its Plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2040 includes healthy ecosystems using nature-based solutions. I recently met with Lauren Dietrich Chavez (Project Manager with the Recreation and Parks Department at the City & County of San Francisco, Spencer Potter (Natural Resources Regulatory Specialist with the Recreation and Parks Department at the City & County of San Francisco), and Pamela Conrad (Principal of CMG Landscape Architecture and Founder of Climate Positive Design). These experts guided me through the many planning, design and operational considerations contributing to buildings...
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