Kilroy Wants San Francisco’s First Net-Zero Office Building

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He applauds Kilroy’s ambitions, while noting how difficult it is to build on city-infill sites and not rely on imported renewable energy. But his confidence in McDonough is great: “He keeps pushing the boundary out, from net-zero to regenerative architecture, restorative buildings, raising these issues in the public consciousness.”

[contextly_sidebar id=”aaf5db5baf6f0f4c1ba4fccf1f3f7b87″]The California Energy Commission and the California Public Utilities Commission have adopted “aspirational goals” to have all new California homes be constructed to net-zero standards by 2020 and for all new commercial buildings to be net-zero by 2030, said Cathleen Fogel, a senior analyst with the California Public Utilities Commission in San Francisco. By law, changes to California’s Title 24 building code require the energy commission to assess costs and benefits, she said. In a first step, a CEC consultant’s report released in May found that “rooftop solar electric systems will be cost-effective in 2020 for a large portion of California’s commercial and residential electricity consumers.”

In a 2012 report on net-zero buildings—its first—NBI identified 21 occupied buildings nationally that it deemed net-zero. But even within that group, six were counted as net-zero based on modeling, not performance. Two of the 21 are in the Bay Area: the 13,000-square-foot Leslie Shao-Ming Sun Field Station, a Stanford University office building in Woodside, and the even-smaller IDeAs Z2 office building in San Jose.

The same report counted an additional 39 buildings nationally as net-zero “capable” based on energy consumption levels on a square-foot basis. Commercial buildings operating at net-zero consume about a third as much electricity as the national average, according to the New Buildings Institute. Net-zero capable buildings include two in Los Altos: Georgina Blach Intermediate School and the Kirsch Center for Environmental Studies at De Anza College.

San Francisco’s newly opened Exploratorium is targeting net-zero operations and the Ecocenter at Heron’s Head operates separately from the electricity grid but is not certified net-zero, said Barry Hooper, a specialist in the green building program for the private sector for San Francisco’s Department of the Environment.

The New Building Institute’s 2013 report on net-zero buildings is imminent, Hobart said. “I’ve been pleased to see how many projects have come online. Our next list is 100 to 150 buildings, a more than doubling of the current list,” she said.

Redwood City-based DPR Construction said May 17 that it has successfully certified its new 16,533-square-foot Phoenix office as net zero through the International Living Future Institute. “Our Phoenix office will be a ‘living lab’ where anyone can see firsthand how our sustainable technologies work together in real life,” said Dave Elrod, DPR’s regional manager, in a prepared statement.

Kilroy knows from tracking its leasing that LEED-certified buildings are more occupied than those that are not, said Sara Neff, Kilroy’s director of sustainability programs. Eighteen months ago, when the leasing market was weaker than today, the company’s LEED-certified buildings were 4 percent more occupied than its others, she said. That delta has slimmed to about 2 percent as the market has strengthened. “It’s been increasingly clear that in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, where the tenants tend to be technology companies with millennials, this is where the trend is going,” she said.

Kilroy is already at work on San Francisco’s first ground-up office tower to seek a Platinum rating, the epitome under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program. The Mission Street property, adjacent to the new Transbay Transit Center, is pre-leased to Inc., which published its first corporate sustainability report in fiscal 2012 emphasizing its efforts to reduce consumption at its office and data-center operations.

Nearly a third of Kilroy’s existing portfolio is LEED-certified now, but the REIT, which has expanded rapidly in the Bay Area in the last three years, has 3.2 million square feet of new development underway, including two Silicon Valley campuses, and will have nearly half of its portfolio LEED-certified with those additions.

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