Gallery: San Francisco’s Greenest Office Building Tops Off!

Wind turbines are set on the roof and side of the new building.
Wind turbines are set on the roof and side of the new building.

The start-then-stop history of the project turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The building was originally designed to be a typical office next to city hall, however after the first halt in construction Mayor Gavin Newsom asked for a greener project. KMD came up with a fresh design that features a roof-mounted 200 kW solar array in addition to small VAWT wind turbines set on the side and roof.

More budget-saving efforts had the design team value engineer the structure, eliminating steel cross bracing in favor of concrete cores and floor slabs. 70% of the cement is replaced with alternatives like slag and fly ash – both of which are industrial waste products that cuts the concrete’s carbon footprint by half. The new design maximizes the under-floor cooling system to allow the thermal mass to absorb heat in the day and flush it out at night. The redesign also allows for an extra floor to be added.

The double-glazed curtain wall has integrated sun shelves and operable windows to enhance the working environment for the 900 employees. Water-saving strategies were also carefully considered – a living machine placed in the lobby cleans and reclaims waste water, which is intended to be reused for irrigation.

The building is meant to last – not just by surviving monster earthquakes – but by being “self-healing” so that it can be occupied immediately after a large event. Energy costs savings are also a big part of the life cycle of the design – it is projected to save $118 million in reduced costs over 75 years. Add in the increase in employee retention and productivity, and what was once a project that broke the bank is turning out to be a tremendous value for the city.

+ KMD Architects

Via Architectural Record


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  1. gphelan June 27, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    I’d just like to inject my two cents about Tipping Mar’s contributions to the project’s sustainability features, which includes resilience–a very important factor in a project’s longevity and service potential–and green concrete mixes, to dramatically lower GHG emissions. As the seismic consultant to SFPUC, Tipping Mar implemented our extremely cost-effective innovative post-tensioned lateral system that returns a building to plumb after a seismic event–this means no permanent deformations after a very large earthquake, the kind that render a building uninhabitable until it is repaired, often to the tune of millions of dollars. In addition, our design solution (1) added a thirteenth story to an originally 12-story building owing to lowered floor-to-ceiling heights (equating to higher density, not to mention greater usable real estate); (2) trimmed the construction schedule owing to our optimized link-beam design that, in conjunction with our PT lateral system, reduced steel reinforcement by 50 percent; (3) saved the project $10 million in direct costs; and (4) decreased the project’s carbon footprint by 7.4 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, owing to Tipping Mar’s work with Central Concrete to design six different low-concrete specs used throughout the building.

    For in-depth information, read Engineering News Record’s cover feature on Tipping Mar and SFPUC:

  2. suzettewr July 27, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    Check out some existing buildings that are cutting energy. Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ENERGY STAR program marked the midpoint of its 2011 National Building Competition: Battle of the Buildings. In the first six months of the competition alone, the competitors together have saved more than $3.7 million on utility bills and prevented 18,500 metric tons of CO2 emissions – that’s equal to the electricity used by 2,300 homes annually.

    Teams from 245 buildings around the country are going head-to-head in this year’s ENERGY STAR National Building Competition to see who can reduce their energy use the most. The building with the largest percentage reduction in energy use, adjusted for weather and the size of the building, will be recognized as the winner in November.

    Today EPA announced the Top Contenders for each of twelve building categories, including Boston’s Colonnade Hotel, the First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis, Office Depot in Plano, Texas, and a parking garage at the University of Central Florida.

    There’s a lot we can all do in our own workplaces, as well. Actor John Corbett, the 2011 ENERGY STAR National Building Competition spokesperson, offers some tips in a new video posted today on the ENERGY STAR site

    ENERGY STAR was started by EPA in 1992 as a market-based partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency. Today, the ENERGY STAR label can be found on commercial and industrial buildings as well as new homes and more than 60 different kinds of products that meet strict energy-efficiency specifications set by EPA. Last year alone, Americans, with the help of ENERGY STAR, saved about $18 billion on their energy bills while preventing greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the annual emissions of 33 million vehicles.

    For a list of National Building Competition Top Contenders and complete midpoint results for all competitors:

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