SF’s greenest office building: part 1

(KTSF by Jessie Liang)

San Francisco, CA – San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) celebrates the completion of its new headquarters on 525 Golden Gate Avenue. The building is built to LEED Platinum standards and is also one of the greenest buildings in North America.


The total cost of the project is more than 200 million dollars. The 13-story office building is able to house over 900 employees. Mayor Ed Lee and a group of students were the first group of visitors at the new green office building.

The SFPUC general manager Ed Harrington asked the visitors, “Do you know on average how much water a person uses per day in a regular office building?” One students answered  “A lot.” “Good guess! The average person in an office building in San Francisco uses 12 gallon a day per person. In this building, we’re going to use 5 gallon a day, 60% less than what a normal person uses,” Harrington said.

The SFPUC spokesman Tyrone Jue says the building is one of the first buildings in the nation with an onsite wastewater treatment system called “Living Machine.” Which Jue says, “uses biological and plant material to filter out all the waste water and treated, so we can recycle it back for toilet flushing in the building.”

The “Living Machine” system treats 5,000 gallons of wastewater per day. In addition, the building’s rainwater harvesting system can store up to 250,000 gallons of water per year for use by the exterior irrigation systems.

The Digital Arts Wall in the lobby also draws people’s attention. For example, if someone is walking in front of the wall as it’s displaying Hetch Hetchy water system, many small windows pop up explaining the water system. The Digital Arts Wall can also display the energy usage data and each floor has an energy usage monitor as well to encourage employees to save energy.

The San Francisco Department of Public Works senior project manager Brook Mebrahtu says they “have a little competition floor by floor to make sure that people are conscious of how much energy they use and expend, and kind of make people conscious about saving energy, and saving water.”

The building’s green concrete mixture uses environmentally friendly materials, and the building’s interior uses recycled materials as well. Parking is limited to four spaces to promote alternative transportation. All of these add up by reducing a 50% carbon footprint compared to the similar-sized office building.

How much money will the building save for ratepayers? What kind of renewable energy is used for the building and what’s the seismic safety feature? Please tune in to next Monday’s “Green Report”.

(Copyright 2012 KTSF.  All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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