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Local Government Spotlight: San Francisco, California

Maintaining the Integrity of the Database

Summary

The San Francisco Department of the Environment (SFE) created a system for maintaining the integrity of its database by using a web-based spreadsheet for disseminating and verifying the accuracy of the city's energy and water consumption data. The low-cost system streamlined the process requiring each city department to produce an annual climate plan.

Goal: To verify the accuracy of the city's energy and water consumption data and streamline the process for producing a required annual climate plan

Barrier: Cumbersome data collection and verification process limits time for analysis and ongoing monitoring

Solution: Utilized a web-based spreadsheet for disseminating and verifying the accuracy of the city's energy and water consumption data

Outcome: Low-cost system that streamlined the process requiring each city department to produce an annual climate plan

Background

San Francisco, California, is the nation's 15th-largest city with approximately 880,000 people[1] and a portfolio of more than 450 facilities and 45 million square feet.

Implementation Strategy

SFE created a system using a web-based spreadsheet for disseminating and verifying the accuracy of the city's energy and water consumption data. Each city department receives a link to an online spreadsheet, which includes a multiyear history of its:

  • Electricity, natural gas, and water consumption for each facility
  • Greenhouse gas carbon footprint
  • Vehicle fuel usage by fuel type for each department.

SFE populates the web-based spreadsheet each year with data tracked by the city's Public Utilities Commission (energy and water) and Fleet Management Department (fuel use).

Outcomes

The low-cost system streamlined the process of requiring each city department to produce an annual climate plan. By utilizing a web-based spreadsheet system, it eliminated the need for multiple spreadsheets on city servers, making it easy for staff to access and verify data for accuracy over time and to notify SFE of needed corrections. 

Sources

San Francisco Department of the Environment. "City Department Climate Action Plans." City Government Climate Action. Accessed August 2020

Note: The information in this case study is based on primary research conducted in 2013. Learn more about the guide's research and development.

To learn more about creating and maintaining the integrity of a central energy database, see Step 3.