FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Monday, November 20, 2023
San Francisco Wins Funds to Help Small Businesses Electrify Their Landscaping Equipment
As the Healthier, Cleaner, Quieter Communities Act rolls out, San Francisco Environment Department is building a suite of resources for the City’s small and micro landscaping businesses to make the transition.
San Francisco, CA – The San Francisco Environment Department (SFE) received grant funds this month from Healthy Babies Bright Futures to reduce worker, family, and children’s exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOCs), fine particulate matter, and other air pollutants resulting from the use of gas-powered landscaping equipment. Grant funds will be used to identify hard-to-reach, low-income, primarily Spanish-speaking workers and owners in the landscaping and grounds maintenance industry and support their transition to zero emission equipment through a pilot program.
“The city’s ordinance will impact everyone,” said Tyrone Jue, Director of San Francisco Environment Department. “This pilot will provide support to businesses early so that the cost and technical burdens of transitioning can be diminished, and workers can begin immediately experiencing the health benefits of electrification.”
Healthy Babies Bright Futures empowers communities to keep babies and young children safe from neurotoxic exposures by conducting research, distributing funds, partnering with local governments, and urging lawmakers and corporate leaders to take meaningful action to reduce environmental pollutants. This grant is the second that Healthy Babies Bright Futures has made to SFE for the express purpose of reducing toxics and air pollutants to protect children. The previous award provided funds for the replacement of nap mats in childcare centers across the city. To date the city has replaced more than 700 mats and trained more than 160 childcare providers on the impact of toxic chemicals such as flame retardants and lead. The new grant will support SFE in piloting a resource and support program for small businesses to transition to zero emission landscaping equipment.
Affectionately known as the “leaf-blower ordinance,” San Francisco’s District 7 Supervisor Myrna Melgar sponsored the Healthier, Cleaner, Quieter Communities Act, requiring city departments to electrify equipment by 2024, and businesses and residents by 2026. The workers that SFE’s pilot targets are significantly exposed, for many hours a day, to gas-powered equipment-generated air pollutants. As most city residents know, gas-powered landscaping equipment is extremely loud, particularly for the user, is heavy, and creates jarring vibration, all of which contributes to the physical and emotional stress of an already strenuous profession.
“The passage of this ordinance was one step in the right direction for our climate and for the workers most impacted by our gas-guzzling landscaping tools,” said Supervisor Melgar. “Now, this new funding is another step forward. Electrification of everyday tools and equipment must be part of our calculation of transitioning to sustainable living. I am so glad to see that San Francisco is taking the lead on combatting climate change with equity and justice front of mind.”
Healthy Babies Bright Futures, as well as the City and County of San Francisco, has been closely following funding opportunities rolling out as part of the Biden Administration’s Inflation Reduction Act, and their design of this round of grant awards had dual priorities.
"Healthy Babies Bright Futures supports municipalities because local governments can have a tremendous and immediate impact in protecting the health of vulnerable community members—especially children and pregnant women,” said Dr. Kyra Naumoff Shields, Director of Healthy Babies Bright Futures Bright Cities program. “San Francisco Environment Department is a leader in successfully implementing programs that protect kids and their environments, and our unique role is to share their models with other cities that want to achieve the same success."
Reducing pollution is a key priority of several new environmental justice grant programs developed as part of the IRA, and this funding from Healthy Babies Bright Futures can be applied as match funding to expand toxics-reducing programs and leverage more funds from Federal grant opportunities.
San Francisco Environment Department is responsible for conducting outreach, education, and establishing incentives to support the transition. Grant awards received from sources including Healthy Babies Bright Futures enables SFE to proactively protect the health of workers and their families, while also ensuring their transition to zero emission equipment is smooth and free of excessive cost burdens.
Joseph Piasecki, email@example.com