SAN FRANCISCO – HKS’s renovation of 50 United Nations Plaza (UNP), a 350,000-square-foot federal building in San Francisco, will be one of the first GSA historical restorations anticipated to achieve LEED Platinum Certification. The building is currently undergoing its first major upgrade since it was constructed in 1936 in the heart of San Francisco’s Civic Center.
The project is currently under construction, with an estimated completion date of mid-2013.
While it can be challenging for a historical remodel project to receive LEED Certification, 50 UNP exceeds LEED Platinum Certification standards through its sustainable site, overall energy reduction and water efficiency.
The current renovation project includes seismic retrofit, building systems upgrade, roof replacement, window restoration, tenant improvements and historic-materials restoration.
Criteria for LEED Platinum Certification includes the high sustainability standards set by the General Services Administration (GSA). 50 UNP is historically significant: it is one of seven representative examples of the City Beautiful movement in San Francisco, and a key element in the Civic Center Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It will house GSA’s Region 9 Headquarters – landlords and builders for the federal branch of government on the Pacific Rim – and thus becomes a showcase for appropriate sustainable measures in a significant historic building.
50 UN Plaza offers large, operable windows and ceiling fans that, when coupled with the mild California climate, eliminate the need for air conditioning. The windows, spaced 13 feet on-center, also reduce the dependence on electrical lighting and its associated thermal gain. Additionally, a central courtyard ensures that no workspace is more than 20 feet from a natural daylight source.
The main lighting source will be high-efficiency dimmable fluorescent lights. LED lights are being recommended for task lighting and are the primary source for exterior lighting. Occupancy and daylight sensors will control the fluorescent lighting to reduce the building’s energy consumption. Solar panels on the north wing roof will harvest energy for the building’s use. This new green roof, covered in vegetation, will reduce the urban heat-island effect while treating storm water runoff.
The historic windows have been rehabilitated, and the original steam radiators – which are in remarkably pristine condition – will be reused and equipped with individual controls for heating. Domestic water usage will be reduced by 80 percent by replacing the original plumbing fixtures with water-saving modern equipment. For the landscaping, highly efficient drip emitters will replace spray irrigation. A grove of birch trees planted in the central courtyard will connect building occupants to the natural environment, a practice that has been shown to increase both efficiency and tenant satisfaction.
The building’s location at the center of one of the greenest cities in the world helps to support the sustainable agenda. The site is adjacent to several modes of public transportation, such as Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), the municipal railway, and several regional bus lines. Bicycle storage and changing rooms are available for employees who choose to ride their bikes to work.
In May 2012, 50 UNP will be featured in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Designed to Earn, the Energy Star® gallery exhibit at the AIA 2012 National Convention in Washington, D.C.
HKS, Inc. is a leading architectural design firm ranked among the top five architectural engineering firms, according to Building Design+Construction magazine. Since its founding in 1939, HKS has completed construction projects totaling more than $73 billion in more than 1,178 cities located in 77 countries. The firm operates from 29 offices worldwide. For more information, visit www.hksinc.com.