The current section is

San Francisco Launches Climate Equity Hub to Support Environmental Justice Communities

Facade of San Francisco home.

In April 2024, San Francisco launched the Climate Equity Hub (Hub) to address some of the pronounced challenges faced by historically disadvantaged communities. These challenges include air pollution, traffic density, heat exposure, and other environmental hazards. The Hub prioritizes Environmental Justice (EJ) neighborhoods such as Bayview Hunters Point, Chinatown, Excelsior, and Japantown, aiming to make the transition to clean energy more affordable and beneficial. 

Emerging from the Energy Efficiency Coordinating Committee established in 2015 and refined through multiple iterations of stakeholder engagement, the Hub will serve as a one-stop shop for building electrification and whole-home retrofits. Their new Heat Pump Water Heater (HPWH) program is designed as an entry point to building electrification for EJ communities and offers technical support and up to $10,785 in rebate funding to fully cover the cost of the upgrade. 

"With this program, San Francisco aims to invert the early adopter program model, which typically prioritizes initial adoption by a small, often more affluent group. Instead, we are making resources immediately accessible to those who might need more technical and financial support," shares Benny Zank, Building Decarbonization Coordinator at San Francisco Environment Department (SF Environment). The Hub builds on the Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s 2023 ruling, which establishes zero nitrogen oxide emissions standards for water heaters and bans the sale and installation of gas water heaters in the Bay Area by 2027. Zank adds, "We want to ensure that residents needing more support can take advantage of the robust incentives currently available and prepare for changing legal requirements."

Firms like Onsemble and QuitCarbon serve as electrification advisors in the program, leveraging their expertise in the electrification space to connect residents with contractors, handle incentive paperwork, and potentially fund projects upfront until the incentive balance is fully dispersed. This comprehensive support process ensures residents avoid the potential complexity and confusion of trying to manage the incentive and installation process themselves. Additionally, the Hub is connecting electrification advisors with local Minority, Women, or Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (MWDBE) to install the HPWHs, creating entry points and pathways towards high-road jobs. The Hub aims to complete 25 to 50 projects by the end of the year while building trust and support within the local community. 

The Heat Pump Water Heater Program is the first of many EJ climate initiatives for the Hub. The long-term vision is to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from residential buildings while advancing racial and social equity, health, economic revitalization, and resilience.

For more information and support, contact the Climate Equity Hub team at (415) 355-3741.