San Francisco Opens Doors to Green Building Program

San Francisco Opens Doors to Green Building Program

With a green ribbon-cutting ceremony led by Mayor Willie Brown Jr., the doors of San Francisco's Department of the Environment and accompanying EcoCenter, the first finished product in the city's green building pilot program, have opened. The offices and educational EcoCenter at 11 Grove Street are a showcase for green-building technology.

“San Francisco is committed to getting the most out of the energy and resources we use while causing the least possible negative impact on our environment,” said Brown at the opening. “The city’s green building efforts will help ensure that the incredible quality of life we enjoy in the Bay Area today will be here for future generations.”

San Francisco is the only city in the country to mandate standards of resource efficiency for all municipal buildings. The Resource Efficiency Building Ordinance, enacted in July 1999, requires all pilot projects to demonstrate state-of-the-art green building technology. Energy conservation, use of non-toxic and recycled materials, and natural air and circulation are all part of the program.

The 11 Grove Street project is an extensive, environmentally-sensitive renovation of a building that dates back to 1906. Fluorescent lights are hooked to light sensors that dim the lights during the day. Safety flooring on the wheelchair ramp is made of recycled automobile tires. Interior walls are finished with non-toxic paint.

The entryway, which incorporates recycled carpeting and bamboo, is crafted from a hurricane-felled tree from President Andrew Jackson’s Tennessee estate.

Employee work stations and office furniture are made from rice straw, wheat straw and other agricultural waste that otherwise would have been burned.

“The EcoCenter will provide a place for (area residents) to learn about city government programs to protect our environment, and will provide practical information on how citizens can make their homes resource and energy efficient,” said city environment director Francesca Vietor. “It’s particularly satisfying to me that the EcoCenter itself is a landmark in green building.”

On the Drawing Board

Other green building pilot projects on the drawing board in San Francisco include Laguna Honda Hospital, a new building designed in pods to give patients and staff closer contact with greenery outside the facility, and an office tower at 525 Golden Gate St. that will involve demolition of the existing structure and reuse of many of the materials in the new building.

Also slated as green projects are the West End Pavilion in Golden Gate Park conceived by former state architect Sim Van Der Ryn that features a "living" roof of flowering plants; an expansion of the Moscone Center; two neighborhood clubhouses in Visitacion Valley and New Mission Park; and a maintenance facility for the Islais Creek MUNI rail station that will reuse concrete from previous construction.

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