San Francisco greening historic spaces with LEED

Green taking over San Francisco's City HallSan Francisco is getting so green it may want rethink it’s moniker as the Golden Gate City and start going by “Green Gate City” or perhaps paint its iconic bridge green. The city, already considered the greenest in North America, thanks to strong local policy, is building on its efforts and promises to be the greenest city. Most recently San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee announced a new initiative to bring eight of its historic building into compliance with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Existing Building certification.

During the U.S. Green Building Council Greenbuild International Conference and Expo’s at San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center, San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee announced the new initiative. “We have applied for LEED certification for eight of our existing buildings in the San Francisco Historic Civic Center District,” he said. “That will represent more than 2.2 million square feet of civic real estate, including buildings such as City Hall, The Symphony, the Asian Art Museum and more.

“It’s very challenging to retrofit some of our most historic buildings for energy efficiency and water conservation but we’ve done it,” Lee said. After LEED certifies the Civic Center retrofit, Lee said he wants the strategy and technologies used to serve as a model for other cities.”

But that’s only part of the story. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), which powers the city’s departments as well as some residents and businesses, announced this past week detailed energy usage information on more than 300 municipal buildings. The report found that both their energy usage and carbon footprints were lower than they were in 2010. In all, the report determined that energy usage at it’s municipal buildings was down 3.8 percent from 2011—saving the city $1 million in electric costs. The carbon footprint drop was even higher at 5.3 percent lower than in 2010.

SFPUC is among the nation’s greenest and has 13 utility-scale solar installations with more on the way. And that’s not even counting solar on municipal buildings. But the renewable energy generation is only part of the equation, the city’s also made great strides in energy efficiency and energy use reductions.

Under the city’s green building programs it now has more than 48 million square feet of LEED-certified certified real estate, Lee said. In addition, all new buildings must be designed to meet the city’s greenhouse gas reduction goals. That means 6 million square feet of commercial space and more than 11,000 housing units planned under the city’s sustainability goals. The city also has been working to increase local solar jobs with its Solar@Work campaign and others.

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