New City building is greener than thou

The sleek new glass tower at Golden Gate and Polk is set to be the greenest building in the country once the SF Public Utilities Commission moves in next month.

But being green also means spending green. The 13-story structure will house 900 employees and cost a total of $201.6 million to build. It’s expected, though, to be cheaper to operate and maintain as time goes on.

By year 26, the PUC says the building will become more cost effective to own and operate rather than to lease. PUC spokesman Charles Sheehan told the SF Business Times:

“This is very much the fiscally responsible thing do.”

In order to make the building sustainable, builders installed wind turbines and solar panels expected to provide about 7 percent of the building’s energy needs, a greywater system that will cover 100 percent of the building, and an integrated control system that centrally manages the building’s energy efficiency.

The 277,000-square-foot building at 525 Golden Gate Avenue is expected to soon be LEED-certified by the US Green Building Council. The new building sits on land acquired by The City more than a decade ago. Until recently, only a dilapidated vacant building damaged by the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake stood on the site.

The building is not only changing the way The City looks at green technology, it’s also changing the view of the skyline. Now towering over Golden Gate Avenue are four wind turbines covered by a 200-foot-high, 22-foot-wide curtain of clear polycarbonate squares that blow in the wind. When the sun sets the squares have LED lights that form a grid of flickering lights.