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Brisbane Adopts its Sustainability Framework for the Brisbane Baylands

Courtesy of the applicant-prepared Specific Plan for the Brisbane Baylands


Caroline Cheung is the senior management analyst (communications) at the City of Brisbane and can be reached at ccheung@ci.brisbane.ca.us. Andrea Traber is a principal (sustainability and innovation) at Integral Group and can be reached at atraber@integralgroup.com.


The Brisbane Baylands project, a vacant brownfield site owned by a private developer comprises approximately 660 acres. This site, representing nearly half of the City of Brisbane’s land area and one of the largest potential development sites remaining along San Francisco Bay, presents both opportunities and challenges for the city.

The site's contamination will require millions of dollars and years of remediation. Yet the remediated site holds the promise of enhanced environmental quality, opportunities for use and enjoyment by Brisbane residents via trails and enhanced open spaces, and new sustainable development that will contribute to the city's economic health, social diversity and environment. The city is currently considering a Specific Plan application for the site.

In 2009 the city council formed the Baylands Sustainability Committee to prepare the Draft Baylands Sustainability Framework, which is organized around 10 principles designed to achieve an ecological footprint based on the resources available on this planet. The draft framework includes the social and economic aspects of sustainability as essential elements to achieving and sustaining the environmental outcomes.

In November 2015 the Brisbane City Council officially accepted the Sustainability Framework for the Baylands (http://brisbaneca.org/baylands-sustainability-framework), a document that was the product of five years of effort by the Baylands Sustainability Committee, multiple drafts and numerous rounds of community review and feedback. Brisbane Mayor Cliff Lentz chaired the committee with collaboration from former Mayor and Council Member Raymond C. Miller, Planning Commissioner Dave Reinhardt, Open Space and Ecology Committee Member Glen Fieldman, and Parks and Recreation Commissioners Renee Marmion and Cris Hart. The framework’s purpose is to create an approach for achieving sustainable development at the Brisbane Baylands.

The framework is organized around these 10 principles.

  1. Zero Carbon Buildings: Make buildings more energy efficient and deliver all energy with renewable technologies.
  2. Zero Waste: Reduce waste, reuse where possible and, ultimately, send zero waste to landfills.
  3. Sustainable Transportation: Use low-carbon modes of transport to reduce emissions and reduce the need to travel with good planning.
  4. Local & Sustainable Materials: Use sustainable healthy products, with low embodied energy, sourced locally, made from renewable or waste resources.
  5. Local & Sustainable Food: Choose low-impact, local, seasonal and organic diets and reduce food waste.
  6. Sustainable Water: Use water more efficiently in buildings, landscaping and the products purchased, and address local flooding as well as wetlands and stormwater pollution.
  7. Open Space & Habitat: Protect and restore biodiversity and natural habitats through appropriate land use and integration into the built environment.
  8. Culture & Heritage: Revive local identity and wisdom; support and participate in the arts.
  9. Economic Vitality with Equity & Ecology: Create ecologically based economies that support equity and inclusive communities.
  10. Recreation, Health, Safety & Happiness: Encourage active, safe lives to promote good health and well-being.

Each principle includes key performance indicators and implementation strategies to provide guidance for future implementation, and metrics to evaluate success. The framework is an aspirational — not regulatory — document intended to inform the ongoing decision-making process and future project implementation. Because the Baylands is such a large project, development is projected to be built out over decades. The framework was crafted to be a living document and thus will evolve over the course of the Baylands project to reflect new information, new funding mechanisms, new policies and technologies and improvements to the project design.

Contact: John Swiecki, community development director, City of Brisbane; phone: (415) 508-2125; email: jswiecki@ci.brisbane.ca.us.

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