Urban green spaces

New! Online search to find the solution you need. Read our press release.

SSMC’s Sustainability Ideas Bank gives government and community leaders access to successfully implemented solutions to quickly advance their sustainability goals. Find policies and programs relevant to the needs of cities in San Mateo County, all carefully researched and vetted.

Use the Ideas Bank to:

  • Address environmental, economic and social equity issues
  • Learn from the experiences and best practices of other communities
  • Accelerate the drafting of new ordinances and policies
  • Identify and solve potential obstacles
  • Build expertise to secure funding, influence policy and engage more effectively with stakeholders
  • Connect with those who successfully implemented the solution

For help using the database tool and answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), see below.

The Sustainability Ideas Bank is a continuously evolving resource that reflects progress made on new challenges as they arise. We welcome your suggestions for solutions to add to the Ideas Bank. Please send them through our online form or by email to ideas@sustainablesanmateo.org.

 

TitleSummaryLinkhf:doc_categorieshf:tax:dlp_document_audiencehf:tax:dlp_document_solution-type
Access to Green Spaces

Increasing access to green spaces and parks is linked to a range of positive outcomes for both individuals and communities

built-environment climate-change-action ecology-and-biodiversity health-and-well-being-2 ideas-bank social-equitycity-government aud-community-orgsol-methodology policy-example resolution-example
Alternative Transportation Incentives

Cash incentives can encourage employees to walk, bike, take public transportation and carpool to and from work

ideas-bank transportationbusiness aud-community-org individualsol-methodology
Anti-Idling Ordinance

The parked idling of all motor vehicles in California is estimated to emit 3 million tons of CO2 annually

climate-change-action health-and-well-being-2 ideas-bank transportationcity-government aud-community-org individuallaw-ordinance-example
Ban on New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure

The ban can speed up the transition to cleaner energy sources

climate-change-action energy ideas-bankcity-government aud-community-org individuallaw-ordinance-example
Banning New Gas Stations

A ban might accelerate the transition to electric vehicles by signaling a decrease in long-term support for gas-powered transportation

climate-change-action energy ideas-bank transportationbusiness city-government aud-community-org individuallaw-ordinance-example policy-example resolution-example
Beekeeping Regulation

Pollination is essential to food security and maintaining a healthy ecosystem

ecology-and-biodiversity ideas-bankcity-government aud-community-org individualpolicy-example
Business License Tax Helps Housing

Increase the business license tax for owners of residential rental units to fund affordable housing

affordable-housing economy-finance ideas-bank social-equitybusiness city-government aud-community-org individualpolicy-example
Campaign Contributions

Restrict or ban campaign contributions from real estate developers to elected officials

affordable-housing economy-finance ideas-bank social-equitycity-government aud-community-org individuallaw-ordinance-example
Carbon Sequestration with Algae

As algae grow in these ponds, they sequester carbon as the bloom expands

climate-change-action ecology-and-biodiversity energy ideas-bankbusiness city-government aud-community-org individualsol-methodology sol-technology
Centralized Waste Bins

Replacing personal waste bins with centralized waste bins in an office encourages recycling, reduces landfill waste and cuts recycling-stream contamination

ideas-bank waste-managementbusiness city-government aud-community-orgsol-methodology policy-example
Clean Air for All

These programs are vital for informing the public, aiding the achievement of air quality standards, and assessing the impact of transportation on air pollution

climate-change-action health-and-well-being-2 ideas-bank social-equity transportationcity-government aud-community-org individualsol-methodology policy-example
Clipper START Card

Clipper START offers lower fares to lower-income individuals who frequently use transit

ideas-bank social-equity transportationcity-government aud-community-org individualsol-methodology
Community Microgrids

Localized microgrids improve the energy independence and offer other benefits

built-environment energy ideas-bankbusiness city-government aud-community-orgsol-methodology sol-technology
Comprehensive City Water Conservation

Conservation practices to ensure the water supply remains available for future generations

built-environment ecology-and-biodiversity ideas-bank waterbusiness city-government aud-community-org individualsol-methodology
Corporate Conservation Programs

Business campuses that develop voluntary conservation programs help biodiversity and can receive Wildlife Habitat Council Conservation Certification

ecology-and-biodiversity ideas-bankbusinesssol-methodology
Corporate Waste Audits

By reducing trash, an employer can reduce costs associated with waste hauling and materials management

ideas-bank waste-managementbusinesssol-methodology
Cottage Food Laws

Allowing the sale of homemade foods directly to consumers helps home cooks and small businesses make a living by selling their creations and improves food access

food-and-agriculture-2 ideas-bank social-equitybusiness city-government aud-community-org individuallaw-ordinance-example
Deconstruction Waste Management

Deconstruction offers a significant form of waste reduction

built-environment climate-change-action ideas-bank waste-managementbusiness city-government aud-community-org individuallaw-ordinance-example sol-methodology policy-example
Default Vegetarian Option

The Default Vegetarian Option refers to a practice where plant-based meals are provided as the standard option, giving people the choice to request the inclusion of animal product in their meals if they prefer

climate-change-action ecology-and-biodiversity food-and-agriculture-2 health-and-well-being-2 ideas-bankbusiness city-government aud-community-org individualsol-methodology policy-example
Direct Install Electrification

To encourage homeowners to change from natural gas to electricity, cities, utility companies and community organizations are offering help with the process

built-environment climate-change-action energy ideas-bankbusiness city-government aud-community-org individualsol-methodology policy-example
Eliminate Off-Street Parking Minimums

Parking minimums contribute to the overreliance on cars as the primary form of transportation

built-environment climate-change-action ideas-bank transportationbusiness city-government aud-community-org individuallaw-ordinance-example
Encouraging Employee Bike Use

Biking is a clean method of transportation that can help businesses reduce their carbon footprint

health-and-well-being-2 ideas-bank transportationcity-government aud-community-org individualsol-methodology
Environmental Impact Scores for Food

Food has a large impact on the environment over the course of its life cycle

climate-change-action ecology-and-biodiversity food-and-agriculture-2 ideas-bankbusiness city-government aud-community-org individuallaw-ordinance-example sol-methodology policy-example
Environmentally Preferable Purchasing

Prioritizing the consumption of products and services that reduce impact on climate

climate-change-action ideas-bank waste-managementbusiness city-governmentpolicy-example
Equitable Sea Level Rise Adaptation Strategies

Understanding socioeconomic factors can help communities address the challenge of flooding due to climate change

climate-change-action ideas-bank social-equitybusiness city-government aud-community-org individualsol-methodology policy-example
Exemplary Inclusionary Housing

Housing programs or policies that are designed to ensure the provision of affordable housing units within new residential developments

affordable-housing ideas-bank social-equitybusiness city-government aud-community-org individualpolicy-example
Expanded Teleworking Options

Teleworking has positive benefits for businesses, employees and the environment

climate-change-action economy-finance health-and-well-being-2 ideas-bank transportationbusiness city-government aud-community-org individualsol-methodology policy-example
Floating Islands

Modular plant platforms clean the water in rivers, lakes, ponds and canals

built-environment ecology-and-biodiversity ideas-bank waterbusiness city-government aud-community-org individualsol-technology
Flood Insurance Community Rating System

Participating communities can strengthen flood risk management efforts, improve safety and reduce costs

built-environment climate-change-action economy-finance ideas-bank waterbusiness city-government aud-community-org individualpolicy-example
Food Waste Tracking

By measuring the specific dishes wasted, the culinary team can work to create an optimal menu and prepare the proper amount of each food each night

climate-change-action food-and-agriculture-2 ideas-bank waste-managementbusiness city-government aud-community-org individualsol-methodology sol-technology
Green Cleaning with Engineered Water

Transitioning to Stabilized Aqueous Ozone greatly reduces plastic waste associated with single-use cleaning containers

ecology-and-biodiversity health-and-well-being-2 ideas-bank waste-managementbusiness city-government aud-community-org individualsol-technology
Green Mondays

Highlight plant-based meal options one day per week to decrease carbon emissions

food-and-agriculture-2 ideas-bankbusiness city-government aud-community-org individualpolicy-example resolution-example
Green Roofs

Green roof can improve building insulation, energy efficiency, aesthetic appearance and carbon offsets

built-environment ecology-and-biodiversity energy ideas-bankbusiness city-government aud-community-org individualsol-methodology sol-technology
Home Electricity Assessment Toolkit

The toolkit provides residents with resources to lower their energy

energy ideas-bankcity-government aud-community-org individualsol-methodology
Housing Impact Fees

Housing impact fees incentivize developers and landlords to offer affordable housing and contribute to government funds for affordable housing developments

affordable-housing economy-finance ideas-bank social-equitybusiness city-government aud-community-org individuallaw-ordinance-example
Induction Cooktop Loaner Program

Loaning induction cooktops to individuals helps persuade them of the benefits of this alternative to gas cooktops

climate-change-action energy health-and-well-being-2 ideas-bankcity-government aud-community-org individualsol-methodology policy-example
Integrated Pest Management Policy or Ordinance

Minimizing the use of chemical pesticides can protect plants and animals, as well as aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems

ecology-and-biodiversity ideas-bankbusiness city-government aud-community-org individuallaw-ordinance-example policy-example
InVEST Toolbox

A suite of free models that map and value the benefits nature provides to human society

ecology-and-biodiversity economy-finance food-and-agriculture-2 ideas-bankbusiness city-government aud-community-org individualsol-methodology
Land Value Tax

This tax encourages densification and efficient land use, discouraging land speculation

affordable-housing built-environment economy-finance ideas-bankbusiness city-government aud-community-org individuallaw-ordinance-example policy-example resolution-example
Landscape Design Assistance

A free or discounted landscape analysis service can help commercial and residential customers transition to water-efficient landscaping

ideas-bank watercity-government individualsol-methodology policy-example
Leaf Blower Regulation

Restrictions and bans on gas-powered leaf blowers reduce noise and air pollution

built-environment energy health-and-well-being-2 ideas-bankcity-government aud-community-org individuallaw-ordinance-example
Limited Equity Housing Cooperatives

This form of home ownership offers lower-income families a chance to own their homes

affordable-housing built-environment ideas-bank social-equitybusiness city-government aud-community-org individualsol-methodology policy-example
Local Commuter Benefits Ordinance

Expand the reach of the Bay Area Commuter Benefits Program by requiring employers with 10 to 49 employees to offer similar commuter benefits

climate-change-action ideas-bank transportationbusiness city-government individuallaw-ordinance-example
Low-Carbon Concrete

Using concrete that stores CO2 can significantly decrease global carbon emissions and make buildings stronger

built-environment climate-change-action energy ideas-bankbusiness city-government aud-community-org individuallaw-ordinance-example sol-technology
Mandatory Rent Registry

A rent registry requires property owners/managers or landlords to annually report data regarding residential rents and other relevant information to a citywide database

affordable-housing ideas-bank social-equitybusiness city-government aud-community-org individuallaw-ordinance-example
Minimum Lease Terms

A policy mandating landlords to offer a minimum lease term of 12 months to prospective tenants ensures housing stability

affordable-housing ideas-bank social-equitybusiness city-government aud-community-org individuallaw-ordinance-example
Missing Middle Housing

Missing middle housing increases the affordability and availability of housing

affordable-housing built-environment ideas-bank social-equity transportationbusiness city-government aud-community-org individualsol-methodology policy-example
Modular Construction for Affordable Housing

Affordable housing can be built faster and cheaper with modular construction than with conventional construction

affordable-housing built-environment economy-finance ideas-bank social-equitycity-government aud-community-orgsol-methodology sol-technology
On-Site Water Reuse for Businesses

On-site water reuse systems make buildings more sustainable and resilient in their water use

built-environment ideas-bank waste-management waterbusiness city-government aud-community-orgsol-technology
Permeable Pavement Rebate

Permeable pavement promotes more sustainable landscaping decreasing runoff and erosion

built-environment ecology-and-biodiversity ideas-bank waterbusiness city-government aud-community-org individualpolicy-example sol-technology
Plastic Roadways

Paving roads with asphalt strengthened by waste plastic keeps plastic out of landfills

ideas-bank transportation waste-managementbusiness city-government aud-community-orgsol-technology
Police Reform

Overhauling current policing practices and standards can reduce the harmful impacts of police brutality and ensure the safety of all people

ideas-bank social-equitycity-government aud-community-org individuallaw-ordinance-example
Pollinator-Friendly Solar

Planting vegetation that attracts pollinators on solar farms can help increase biodiversity and support pollinator populations

climate-change-action ecology-and-biodiversity energy food-and-agriculture-2 ideas-bankbusiness city-government aud-community-org individualsol-methodology
Public Housing Revitalization

Rehabilitating existing units can be more cost effective than building new housing

built-environment health-and-well-being-2 ideas-bank social-equitybusiness city-government aud-community-org individualsol-methodology policy-example
Quick-Build Street Design

Quick-build projects can spur the development of more walkable and bikeable streets

built-environment ideas-bank transportationcity-government aud-community-org individualsol-methodology policy-example
Rain Barrel Rebate

Financial incentives for rain barrels increase rainwater reuse

ecology-and-biodiversity ideas-bank waterbusiness city-government aud-community-org individualsol-methodology policy-example
Rain Garden Rebate

Rain gardens absorb runoff water up to 40% more efficiently than a standard lawn

built-environment ecology-and-biodiversity ideas-bank waterbusiness city-government aud-community-org individualsol-methodology policy-example
Reach Codes

Reach codes reduce or eliminate fossil fuel use in buildings.

built-environment climate-change-action energy ideas-bankbusiness city-government aud-community-org individualsol-methodology policy-example
Recycled Water Ordinance

Requiring the use of recycled water for irrigation, landscaping and toilet flushing can result in dramatic water savings

built-environment ecology-and-biodiversity economy-finance ideas-bank watercity-governmentlaw-ordinance-example
Regenerative Farming

Sustainable farming practices can help restore soil health, thereby capturing carbon and improving the water cycle

climate-change-action ecology-and-biodiversity food-and-agriculture-2 ideas-bank waterbusiness aud-community-orgsol-methodology policy-example
Renter Equity Programs

Enable renters to earn equity in exchange for contributing to the management of their apartments

affordable-housing economy-finance ideas-bank social-equitybusiness city-government aud-community-org individualsol-methodology policy-example
Responsible Recycling of e-Waste

Electronic waste recycling keeps materials out of landfills and reduces the demand for extraction of raw resources

ideas-bank waste-managementbusiness city-government aud-community-org individuallaw-ordinance-example
Right to Repair Act

The idea that individuals and third parties should be allowed to and able to repair electronic devices in order to avoid having to continually replace electronics

ecology-and-biodiversity ideas-bank waste-managementbusiness city-government aud-community-org individuallaw-ordinance-example policy-example
Rubberized Asphalt Concrete

Rubberized asphalt concrete is made by mixing crumb rubber with asphalt

built-environment energy ideas-bank waste-managementbusiness city-government aud-community-org individualsol-methodology sol-technology
Satellite Water Treatment Facility

A decentralized water treatment system handling water treatment needs at a smaller scale

built-environment ecology-and-biodiversity ideas-bank waterbusiness city-government aud-community-orgsol-technology
Seamless Transit Principles

Endorsing Seamless Bay Area?s seven guiding principles can improve regional transportation

built-environment climate-change-action ideas-bank social-equity transportationcity-government aud-community-org individualresolution-example
Shared Micromobility

These novel services, enabled by advancing technology, increase the number and type of available alternative transport modes

climate-change-action ideas-bank transportationbusiness city-government aud-community-org individualsol-methodology policy-example
Shuttles for Employee Commutes

Employer-sponsored shuttles can drastically decrease traffic congestion and carbon emissions by reducing solo driving during peak commute hours

climate-change-action economy-finance health-and-well-being-2 ideas-bank transportationbusiness city-governmentsol-methodology
Single-Use Plastic Foodware Ban

Plastic waste will be reduced dramatically, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, terrestrial and marine pollution, and needed landfill space for end-of-life disposal

ideas-bank waste-managementbusiness city-government aud-community-org individuallaw-ordinance-example
Slow Streets

Closing some streets can encourage more sustainable and healthy modes of transportation

climate-change-action health-and-well-being-2 ideas-bank transportationbusiness city-government aud-community-org individualpolicy-example
Smart Glass for Commercial Buildings

Smart Glass has the potential to cut heating, ventilation and air-conditioning

built-environment energy ideas-bankbusiness city-government aud-community-org individualsol-technology
Streamlined Residential Graywater Use

Simplifying requirements for gray water systems can encourage residents to participate in water reuse and conservation

built-environment ecology-and-biodiversity ideas-bank waterbusiness city-government aud-community-org individualsol-methodology policy-example
Streetlight Electric Vehicle Charging

Provide more public EV charging stations via LED streetlights that have excess electrical capacity

built-environment climate-change-action energy ideas-bank social-equitybusiness city-government aud-community-orgpolicy-example sol-technology
Sustainable 401k for Employees

By making retirement plan options more sustainable, employers ensure that this often overlooked part of their operations is brought in line with the rest of their sustainability objectives

economy-finance ideas-bankbusiness city-government aud-community-org individualsol-methodology sol-technology
Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act

Establish the first right of refusal for tenants when their home or building is being sold

economy-finance ideas-bank social-equitycity-government aud-community-org individuallaw-ordinance-example sol-methodology policy-example
Tiny Homes

Constructing low square footage promotes greater housing affordability and environmental sustainability

affordable-housing built-environment energy ideas-bank social-equitybusiness city-government aud-community-org individuallaw-ordinance-example sol-methodology policy-example
Transportation Management Associations

Nonprofit, member-controlled organizations that coordinate and implement transportation demand management

ideas-bank social-equity transportationbusiness city-government aud-community-org individualsol-methodology policy-example
Urban Biofilters

Utilizing the natural filtration and absorption capabilities of plants and microorganisms to improve air quality and reduce heat islands

built-environment climate-change-action ecology-and-biodiversity ideas-bankbusiness city-government aud-community-orgsol-methodology sol-technology
Urban Community Gardens

Urban gardens provide an innovative way to cultivate community relationships and hyper-local produce in dense city environments

built-environment ecology-and-biodiversity food-and-agriculture-2 health-and-well-being-2 ideas-bank social-equitycity-government aud-community-org individualsol-methodology
Urban Tree Planting

There are a variety of ways to prioritize planting trees, which offer countless benefits

climate-change-action health-and-well-being-2 ideas-bank social-equitycity-government aud-community-org individualsol-methodology
Wildlife Corridors

Wildlife corridors enhance biodiversity by facilitating migration, providing secure passages across roads, and maintaining connected populations for reproduction

built-environment ecology-and-biodiversity ideas-bankbusiness city-government aud-community-org individualsol-methodology policy-example
Youth Climate Ambassadors Program

Year-long program trains high school students to take climate action into their own hands

climate-change-action ideas-bankcity-government aud-community-org individualsol-methodology policy-example
Zero Percent Loans

Zero percent loan programs increase the accessibility of transitioning to more energy-efficient infrastructure

economy-finance energy ideas-bankbusiness city-government aud-community-org individualpolicy-example
Zoning Ordinances that Address Sea Level Rise

Include zoning requirements that make development more flood resilient to protect people’s safety and reduce repair costs

built-environment climate-change-action ideas-bankcity-governmentlaw-ordinance-example policy-example

We are grateful to the donors, volunteers and interns who help develop and support this project. Click here to see a list of past contributors, or here for an introduction to the summer 2023 intern cohort. Find out what interns think of the program, or click here to see a video of some previous interns from Stanford University.

To find solutions:

You can search for solutions using the Category, Audience and Solution Types filters, entering a search term in the search box, or both! As soon as you make an entry, the list of solutions will automatically update and you will see the number of matching solutions.

To view and download solutions:

You can download a solution to your computer, or click Preview to see it in your browser. To download multiple solutions at once, check the box next to each solution and then click “Download Selected Documents” on top of the table.

What types of solutions are available?

Law/Ordinance Example is a Solution that provides an example of local laws or ordinances enacted by a city government to address specific issues within the community. They set standards for behavior and activities to ensure the well-being and orderly conduct of the community. Examples of specific issues addressed by an ordinance are: zoning, noise control, public safety and building codes.

Policy Example is a Solution that provides an example of guidelines or rules that direct the internal operations, procedures and conduct of a government or business. They are designed to ensure efficiency, consistency and compliance with laws and ethical standards. They can cover a wide range of issues, including but not limited to, workplace conduct, public health, management of resources, building/development and the operation of services and programs.

Resolution Example is a Solution that provides an example of a formal statement from a city council or governing body to express its intent or to make a decision on a specific matter. They can be used to demonstrate support for a proposed law, ordinance or policy, or a city can use a resolution as a preliminary step before implementing a law, ordinance or policy.

Technology is a Solution that provides an example of a new material, tool, machinery, technique, system or process to address environmental challenges. This category could include a wide range of innovations, including smart grids, building management systems, advanced logistics planning, use of sensors, satellites and data analytics, composting technologies.

Methodology is a Solution that provides an example of a new process or organizational method. A methodology typically includes a clear set of steps or stages, each with its own procedures and guidelines, ensuring a structured and consistent approach.

Who uses the Ideas Bank?

The Ideas Bank is a resource for various stakeholders. It empowers

  • Local governments by offering an overview of the feasibility of initiatives, and a way to learn about their potential and to facilitate adoption
  • Community organizations to advance their missions by building their capacity and expertise to engage more effectively with stakeholders, facilitating collaboration, advocacy and networking,
  • Business in their effort to reduce their environmental impact and contribute to social equity through economically viable solutions
  • Citizens by providing ideas for changes they can advocate for at the local level, which increase a community’s resilience in the face of sustainability challenges

What are the benefits for its users?

For local governments

  • Access to proven solutions can significantly aid in implementing effective initiatives
  • Efficient problem-solving to quickly find and adopt strategies to address challenges relevant to their communities
  • Cost-effectiveness to avoid or reduce the costs and risks associated with trial and error
  • Policy development and improvement by learning from the experiences and best practices of other communities
  • Navigating implementation challenges by identifying and overcoming potential obstacles. This foresight can be crucial in ensuring success
  • Benchmarking initiatives against those listed in the Ideas Bank, gaining insights for improvement and opportunities for learning
  • Enhancing public trust and transparency through a commitment to research-backed, expert-vetted sustainability solutions

For community organizations

  • Building capacity and expertise to secure funding, influence policy and engage more effectively with stakeholders
  • Advocating local action with solutions that are relevant and effective at the local level
  • Networking and collaboration opportunities to connect with others who have successfully implemented the solutions fosters a sense of community and collaboration
  • Streamlined Implementation Process enabled by the curated resources can save time and resources
  • Overcoming obstacles by anticipating and preparing for challenges. A proactive approach can increase the likelihood of success

For businesses

  • Cost savings and efficiency gains through more efficient use of resources, reduced waste or lower energy consumption
  • Enhanced public image and brand value
  • Competitive advantage by attracting new customers and retaining existing ones who are increasingly looking for environmentally and socially responsible practices, products and services
  • Engagement and attraction of employees who increasingly seek to work for organizations that align with their values
  • Access to funding and incentives by becoming eligible for various grants, tax incentives and funding opportunities dedicated to environmental and social projects
  • Building partnerships and networks with other organizations, government agencies and community groups that can lead to collaborative projects.

For individuals

  • Empowerment through knowledge to make informed choices in their daily lives
  • Advocate for sustainable initiatives in their communities and participate in local sustainability efforts
  • Enhanced quality of life by creating a cleaner, healthier and more livable environment
  • Economic savings as many sustainability practices, such as energy efficiency and waste reduction, can lead to cost savings for individuals and households
  • Educational opportunities to build resilience against climate change and other challenges
  • Sense of agency and the ability to make a positive impact on their environment and community