7.8 million gallons of drinking water will be saved every year with a blackwater recycling system at the new 1,070-foot tall Salesforce Tower in San Francisco. The skyscraper, designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, will be equipped with the on-site system, which is the first of its kind in the city and the biggest in any commercial high-rise building in the United States. Inhabitat spoke with Salesforce’s senior director of sustainability Patrick Flynn to hear more about blackwater recycling and the tower‘s other green features.

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Salesforce Tower’s blackwater recycling system will take water from any of the building’s sources, according to Flynn – from toilets or sinks to drainage from the roof. The system itself will be housed in the basement – Flynn said they are converting “a handful of parking spaces on two levels into rooms and storage tanks that can house the system” – and it will extensively treat blackwater and resupply it for non-potable uses like irrigating plants or flushing toilets throughout the entire building. “The impact from a water perspective is huge,” Flynn told Inhabitat. “7.8 million gallons per year of freshwater use reduced – that’s a 76 percent reduction in the overall building’s water demands, and an amount of water avoided that’s equivalent to the use of 16,000 San Francisco residents.” That translates to savings of around 30,000 gallons of water every day.

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Flynn said California was experiencing a drought when they first discussed the building’s design years ago. “We know that periods of extreme drought will come again,” he said. “We know that climate change is amplifying extreme weather. And so we felt like upholding our values to do the right thing for our community, for our region, here at our headquarters, was to think about water responsibility and water recycling.”

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Salesforce is the first recipient of a blackwater grant from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), according to the company. But the blackwater recycling system isn’t the only sustainable feature in the tower. Flynn, a HVAC engineer by profession, also said a patented HVAC system will bring fresh air from the outdoors inside the tower – a move that will not only cut energy consumption but also boost occupant health. According to Salesforce, the tower has already achieved LEED Platinum certification. LED lighting, daylight sensors, and what Flynn described as healthy materials fill the building. He told Inhabitat, “We know that people spend most of their time indoors, and it’s important to make sure that that environment is inspiring and healthy.”

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Clean energy will power the tower; this past summer, the company signed Salesforce East and Salesforce West up for SFPUC’s SuperGreen Service, opting in to a 100 percent renewable energy program. Flynn said they were the first Fortune 500 company to do so, and their entry more than doubled enrollment in the program. Last year the company also reached net zero greenhouse gas emissions – 33 years early on a goal they’d set in 2015.

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The Salesforce Tower has already changed the San Francisco skyline (check out the construction camera here), and when asked if there were concerns over its impact on the look of the city, Flynn said, “When I think about the tower, I think of how proud I am to have such a prominent example of how high-performance buildings and sustainable buildings and healthy buildings are all synonymous with one another. I think what we have here is a showcase for how real estate can uphold the expectations and exceed the expectations of its occupants, its local community, and all of its stakeholders – and I think the blackwater system is a great example of how we’ve been able to introduce a first-of-its-kind, largest such system in a commercial high-rise in the U.S. – and show a better way forward.”

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Salesforce is already beginning to move in to the tower. Construction on the blackwater recycling system hasn’t started yet, but Flynn said it will be constructed over the course of 2018 and could be up and running around the end of this year.

Flynn told Inhabitat, “We hope we’ve shown a path forward that other companies can follow and inspired them to take action as well.”

+ Salesforce Tower

+ Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects

Images courtesy of Salesforce

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