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SF Public Utilities Commission Headquarters Unveils Its Green Innovations

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A key green element to the just-opened 13-floor, $190-million San Francisco Public Utilities Commission headquarters is its water management system, called the Living Machine.

Photo by Bruce Damonte
The new SFPUC headquarters is located at 525 Golden Gate Ave.
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According to the project’s designers, KMD Architects & Stevens Architects, the building will consume 60% less water than similarly sized buildings. The advanced gray-water and black-water system was developed by Worrell Water Technologies, Charlottesville, Va. The SFPUC headquarters at 525 Golden Gate is one of the first urban office buildings to use the system, satisfying 100% of the water demand for the building’s low-flow toilets and urinals. The Living Machine system, along with faucet sensors, on-demand water heaters and other techniques, will cut use to 5 gallons per occupant per day, compared to average office-building use of 12 gallons a day, according to KMD. Storm water also will be collected and treated to be used for irrigation of plants on the site.

Compared to similarly-sized office buildings, 525 Golden Gate, at 277,511 sq ft, also features 50% less of a carbon footprint and uses 32% less energy. It is seeking LEED platinum certification.

The KMD/Stevens team says it took a number of innovative turns in the design evolution of the building, including the wind-turbine tower. The integrated, hybrid solar array and wind turbine installation can generate up to 227,000 kilowatt hours per year or 7% of the building’s energy needs. A state-of-the-art raised flooring system incorporates the building’s data and ventilation infrastructure and reduces heating, cooling and ventilation energy costs by 51%.

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