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Everything’s Coming Up Green… In San Francisco

San Francisco was recently named the Greenest City in North America both in a study by Siemens and the Economist Intelligence Unit, and its legislation like LEED Gold for municipal buildings and our green building ordinance are among the reasons for the award.

Buildings come at a cost. In the United States, buildings account for 70 percent of the electricity, 40 percent of the raw materials, and 12 percent of the potable water we use. In San Francisco, 56 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions are attributable to buildings.

San Francisco began a green building ordinance in 2008 under the leadership of Mayor Newsom where new residential and commercial buildings must meet green requirements and old buildings are to receive green renovations. In 2011 Mayor Edwin M. Lee continued this legacy and introduced legislation updating the Green Building Code to require (LEED) Gold certification for all municipal construction and major renovation projects over 5,000 square feet. (Prior to this point the Code required only (LEED) Silver certification.) This legislation has positioned San Francisco as a national leader in resource efficient building..

The city currently has 52 municipal projects seeking LEED certification including three museums, two hospitals, 10 branch libraries, five recreation centers, a new office building, and an airport terminal totaling nearly six million square feet, at a value of over $3 billion dollars.

Investment in green building is obviously growing here, the business case for providing healthy, affordable, waste-eliminating, resource-efficient, and even restorative buildings is excellent. San Francisco is home to many of the world’s leaders in the design, construction, and operation of sustainable buildings. These people are planning, building, and preserving our buildings to balance present needs, future resources, and the history and culture of our past.

San Francisco is the vanguard of the green building movement in the US. To continue to thrive while providing for future generations, San Francisco has some of the world’s most innovative environmental initiatives, incentives, and legislation. A built environment that reduces waste and protects human health is essential to our common future, as is mitigating and adapting to changes to our climate.

This slideshow is an artist’s rendering of the completed San Francisco’s Transbay Terminal/neighborhood, which is due to be completed in 2017. The Transbay Transit Center Project is a visionary transportation and housing project that transforms downtown San Francisco and the San Francisco Bay Area’s regional transportation system by creating a “Grand Central Station of the West” in the heart of a new transit-friendly neighborhood. Some of its green features are; a 5.4 acre rooftop park, reuse of many of the materials from the old transbay building in the new one, several LEED credits for water & electricity conservation methods.