Green Building Task Force Recommendations

(July 11, 2007)

Policy group calls for mandatory environmental standards

for San Francisco's private sector buildings

Mayor Newsom's Green Building Task Force releases recommendations

Commercial and residential buildings in San Francisco may be required to meet high environmental standards, similar to those already in place for municipal buildings, if the city follows the recommendations of Mayor Newsom's Green Building Task Force, which the Task Force released Wednesday, July 11.

"Without more energy and resource efficient buildings in San Francisco, we will not meet our aggressive greenhouse gas reduction targets," observed Mayor Gavin Newsom. "I convened the Green Building Task Force in order to challenge the folks in this town who actually build buildings and finance construction to achieve the highest levels of environmental performance."

The Task Force is comprised of ten members of San Francisco's building ownership, developer, financial, architectural, engineering, and construction communities, who the Mayor selected for their knowledge of the building industry and commitment to San Francisco's long-term sustainability. The Task Force's recommendations address new commercial and residential buildings, as well as major alternations to both.

For large commercial buildings and renovations, the Task Force recommends a phased approach, with an immediate target of LEED Certified, increasing to LEED Gold by 2012. For smaller commercial buildings, where the payback for green design is less substantial, the Task Force recommends voluntary compliance to the extent practicable. "LEED" is the US Green Building Council's resource efficiency standard, which stands for "Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design."

High-rise residential buildings follow the same guidelines as commercial buildings. Smaller residential buildings of 1-4 units, and mid-rise buildings under 75 feet high are recommended achieve a GreenPoint Rating of 75 points by 2012. GreenPoint Rated is a rating system more suited for smaller residential rather than commercial construction, developed by "Build It Green," a professional non-profit membership organization whose mission is to promote healthy, energy and resource-efficient buildings in California.

The Task Force also recommends incentives including development bonuses, property assessment equalization, and fee reductions that would be phased in over the next five years. Incentives would only be available for buildings that exceed standards, with the highest incentives for the projects with the highest environmental performance.

"The Task Force recommendations will create the foundation for meaningful Green Building legislation that will be achievable because it has the buy-in from the people who make building happen; but at the same time, it will get us where we need to go," said Mayor Newsom. "I look forward to working with architects, engineers, green building professionals, and all interested parties to craft mandatory green building standards that will serve the highest interests of San Francisco."

Task Force members are Phil Williams, Chairman, Vice President of Webcor Builders, a general contracting firm for commercial buildings; Charles Breidinger, Building Inspection Commission Code Advisory Committee, Green Building Subcommittee, and Professional Engineer; Ken Cleaveland, Building Owners and Managers Association, an industry representative for building owners and managers; Mike Kerwin, Lorax Development, general contractor and developer of small-scale residential projects; Peter Liu, New Resource Bank, a community banker providing funding for sustainable building projects; Ezra Mersey, Jackson Pacific Ventures, developer of high-rise residential buildings; Margie O'Driscoll, Executive Director, American Institute of Architects; Kirsten Ritchie, Gensler, architect with certification systems expertise; Ken Seibel, Tishman Speyer, real estate owners, developers, and fund managers; Bill Worthen, Simon and Associates, architect and green building consultant. City staff from the Departments of the Environment, Planning, and Building Inspection provided technical support.