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SF’s The Energy Foundation Awarded State’s First LEED-CI Platinum

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BCCI reports that its client, The Energy Foundation, received award recognition from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Northern California Chapter won the Outstanding Existing Building Project: Green Team of the Year award.

SF’s The Energy Foundation Awarded State’s First LEED-CI Platinum.
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The Energy Foundation is the first project in California to achieve LEED-CI platinum certification.

The organization, a partnership of philanthropic investors that promotes clean-energy technologies, sought a newly designed space that reflected its mission, which is to advance energy efficiency and renewable energy with innovative technologies. BCCI teamed with the Foundation and TannerHecht Architecture to complete construction of the Foundation’s headquarters, located at the Bently Reserve building in downtown San Francisco.

Recycled and renewable materials were used throughout, as well as advanced energy efficient lighting, mechanical and HVAC systems.

“This is an enormous acknowledgement for everyone involved,” says Alex Spilger, sustainability manager of BCCI. “Not only is BCCI honored to have contributed to The Energy Foundation’s significant office space, but we thoroughly enjoyed working with the client and TannerHecht Architecture to deliver the vision of this project.”

The floor plan, interior clerestories and glass partitions allow 90% of regularly occupied spaces to have direct sight lines to the large exterior windows. Daylight harvesting and lighting control systems reduce lighting power density by 45%, while new efficient fixtures achieve a 59% water use reduction over EPA performance requirements.

According to TannerHecht, the appropriateness of the historic Bently Reserve building, formerly the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, as the location for the Energy Foundation’s offices was immediately apparent. Its downtown location, well served by mass transit, was appealing, as was the stately, Neoclassical-style 1924 building itself, which Bently Holdings purchased in 2005 and renovated with SmithGroup (which later became a tenant).

The renovation achieved a LEED rating for the core and shell and, taking things a step further, the owners made LEED silver a prerequisite for all leaseholders. Key elements of the design direction for the offices emerged during the client and architects’ first walk-through of the raw, 17,600-sq-ft fifth floor. While accommodating 25 private offices and 42 workstations, three conference rooms, a boardroom, and informal gathering places, the space had to be contemporary, but, as befits a nonprofit organization, not ostentatious. The clients also expressed a desire to celebrate the building’s past, emphasize contrasts, and keep the interior open to encourage collaboration while maximizing daylighting and views.

As a starting point, the team removed the gypsum board from the exterior walls, clear-sealing the original brick and the steel seismic reinforcement added in the 1980s. Forgoing insulation here was a choice of aesthetics over function, though like the original single-pane casement windows, which the building retained, it is a factor that is mitigated by San Francisco’s mild climate. A floor plan followed from the democratic decision to locate the boardroom on the northeast corner, which affords prized sliver views out to the bay. Private offices and assistant workstations line the building’s perimeter, and the liberal use of glass partitions and walls carries daylight to the public spaces at the floor’s center.

Leaving the core virtually untouched (save painting and adding high-efficiency plumbing fixtures in the bathrooms) was another aesthetic as well as economic move.

While specifying FSC-certified wood for cabinetry, doors, and furniture; recycled content carpet; Greenguard-certified workstations and chairs; recycled denim insulation for interior walls; and locally sourced materials and furniture, the architects were wary of the sometimes clichéd nature of green products.

“We were trying not to be too granola,” says David Hecht, AIA, principal in charge. “We wanted to have a good LEED project without seeing bamboo everywhere.” A boardroom table made of recycled Douglas fir and decommissioned photovoltaic panels manifests that goal, as do Aspen wood–fiber ceiling panels: floating sloped planes that provide sound absorption while directing daylight to the center of the space.

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