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New SF PUC Headquarters Tour Recap

PUC Headquarters Tour

New PUC Building is Prototype for San Francisco Sustainable Design Projects…

Originally slated to achieve LEED Silver status, the new 277,000 square foot, thirteen-story San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (PUC) headquarters and administration building, located at 525 Golden Gate Avenue, is expected to exceed LEED Platinum certification. On April 13, 2012, ULI members and friends toured the PUC’s future home, which is considered to be a prototype for San Francisco sustainable design projects.

Our tour was lead by PUC Project Director Shelby Campbell, San Francisco Department of Public Works (DPW) Senior Project Manager Brook Mabrahtu and David Hobstetter of KMD Architects, Principal-in-Charge. The new structure has many unique features that maximize environmental sustainability, including:

  • Vertical wind turbines and solar panels to assist in meeting the building’s energy demand
  • A Living Machine to facilitate black and grey water treatment. This reclamation measure will satisfy 100% of the water demand needed to operate the building’s low flow toilets and urinals
  • Strategic floor plan, glass exterior and light shelves to redirect daylight to the building’s core, maximizing the use of natural light
  • Raised floors to facilitate natural ventilation, enhancing indoor air quality

Another remarkable design element is the post-tensioned lateral system that returns a building to plumb and enables immediate occupancy following a considerable seismic event. This departure from the original structural design was instituted by Tipping Mar, saving the project $10 million and reducing the carbon footprint dramatically.

In May 2010, the American Institute of Architects (AIA), San Francisco Chapter, recognized DPW with two awards. One award for its Integrated Project Delivery system, which is a best practice that has resulted in improved coordination and a timely delivery and another for Excellence in Unbuilt Design.

According to the PUC, a combination of rental savings, energy efficiencies and asset ownership will save ratepayers approximately $3.7 billion over the anticipated 100-year building lifespan ($500 million in 2011 dollars). The PUC headquarters and administration building is expected to be completed this summer. More project information can be found at:



Architect: KMD Architects/Stevens + Associates
Structural Engineer: Tipping Mar
General Contractor: Webcor
Developer: City of San Francisco, Department of Public Works
Cost: $190 Million

Authored by: Pam May, TechScribe Communications, Oakland

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