2020 Impact Awards: Mike Brown, Utility Specialist | Finance, Business Services

This year, we received 60 nominations in the individual category. Nominators took the time to tell us about their amazing SFPUC colleagues and partners. They thoughtfully shared with us why they nominated these impactful individuals. Their written nominations also give us a view into other departments and areas we may not be familiar with. We hope reading the written nominations will inspire you as much as they did us.

Thank you, Mike, for having such a profound impact on those around you and SFPUC!

Award: Environmental Stewardship Award

Nominated by: Richard M. Morales

I am nominating Mike Brown for an individual award as a part of the 2020 Impact Awards. Mike serves as the SFPUC’s Environmental Finance Manager (5602 Utility Specialist) and is a longstanding member of the team I lead – the Capital Finance Group (which is part of Financial Services within Business Services). The Capital Finance Group is responsible for all debt issuance and debt administration activities that fund the SFPUC’s capital programs within the Water, Wastewater and Power enterprises. The Capital Finance Group manages the issuance of revenue bonds, low-cost state and federal loans, and commercial paper.

Starting in 2015, Mike took the initiative to implement the issuance of the SFPUC’s first “Green Bonds”, which has become a core element of the SFPUC’s debt funding programs. “Green Bonds” are revenue bonds that receive the special designation of “green” because they fund infrastructure projects that meet climate change adaptation and mitigation/resiliency criteria. This allows investors who want to invest in environmentally sustainable infrastructure projects to purchase bonds with this special “green” designation. It also highlights agencies, such as the SFPUC, that are implementing innovative capital infrastructure programs designed to meet the goals of climate change mitigation and adaptation/resiliency.

Mike, early on, recognized that the City and County of San Francisco (“City”) had set the ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to eventually become carbon neutral by 2050. He also recognized that these City goals would influence the capital investment activities of all City departments, including the large capital programs of the SFPUC. He saw this as an opportunity to utilize this new, innovative category of bonds – Green Bonds – that would fund projects having clear environmental benefits. In 2015, Mike advocated that the Power Enterprise’s inaugural $32 million revenue bond issuance be designated as “green” since the bonds funded the repair and rehabilitation of Hetch Hetchy generators that produce 100% greenhouse gas-free hydropower. That was the SFPUC’s first “Green Bond” issuance. At that time, Green Bond issuance was prevalent throughout the rest of the world, but still in its infancy in the United States, particularly among governmental agencies that issue municipal bonds. Shortly after that, Mike was responsible for having the Water Enterprise’s “Water System Improvement Program (WSIP)” and the Wastewater Enterprise’s “Sewer System Improvement Program (SSIP)” certified by independent verifiers as capital programs that qualify for “Green Bond” funding. As a result, the SFPUC has now issued over $2 billion of Green Bonds for the Water and Wastewater Enterprises, making the SFPUC one of the largest issuers of municipal “Green Bonds” in the United States, as well as a recognized leader in this growing sector. In addition, Mike’s efforts in making the SFPUC a leader in “Green Bonds” issuance has broadened and diversified the SFPUC’s bond investor base, which results in better pricing for the bonds.

Mike has also been involved in the establishing of criteria for water and sewer projects that allow bonds funding such projects to be designated as “green.” Mike has also been a leader in Green Bonds disclosure at the SFPUC, which provides our Green Bond investors with on-going information showing that the projects funded with their Green Bond investments continue to meet their original purpose of having environmental benefits. As part of this disclosure effort, Mike spearheaded the drafting of the “Water Enterprise Green Bond Annual Report” for FY 2018-19, a comprehensive disclosure report that has been very well-received by the Green Bond investor community. The following is a link to the report:


Also, in FY 2018-19, Mike spearheaded the effort to issue the $229,050,000 2018 Series A and $179,145,000 2018 Series C Wastewater Revenue Bonds as Green Bonds. These bonds, which funded SSIP projects, were very well-received by the market and continued to broaden our investor base.

Not only has Mike’s efforts made the SFPUC a leader in “Green Bonds”, but he has personally become a leading expert in this sector. Mike is frequently asked to speak at and participate in Green Bond conferences throughout the United States and abroad. And through Mike’s advocacy, the SFPUC has received awards in this sector, including being recognized in 2017 by the Climate Bonds Initiative (“CBI”), a leading, London-based global proponent of Green Bonds, as the first issuer worldwide to sell Green Bonds under CBI’s water criteria. And last year, the SFPUC received the 2019 U.S. Municipal Green Bond of the Year award by “Environmental Finance”, a prominent industry publication.

Mike has and continues to be a passionate and committed advocate of “Green Bonds” at the SFPUC, as well as a dedicated advocate of this innovative financial product to other governmental agencies and to the banking and investor communities. His vision and tireless efforts in this ever-important field clearly meet the core standards of Financial Sustainability and Environmental Stewardship at the SFPUC, which also align with the City’s mission and values in environmental sustainability. Mike’s work in this area has made a significant impact on the SFPUC, and there is no question that he is well-deserving of the 2020 Impact Award.