San Francisco’s Big Green Pyramid

The Transamerica Pyramid has been a San Francisco icon since 1972, and in 2009, it became a green icon as well, achieving LEED Gold status. But why stop there? The property owner, Transamerica Pyramid Properties, recently announced that the building has gone one better in its sustainable efforts, and has now secured LEED Platinum certification.

The owner, along with the building management team of Cushman & Wakefield, and BuildingWise, a LEED certification consultant, were able to achieve the higher level of certification, in part, by boosting the building’s Energy Star rating from a score of 77 in 2009 to 98, placing the building in the top 2 percent of energy-efficient buildings in the nation. A cogeneration plant installed onsite was also a key addition, and now provides for an average 70 percent of the building’s electricity needs and all of heating and domestic hot water needs (saving the Transamerica Pyramid an average of $700,000 a year in energy costs).

Transamerica Pyramid

image via the Pyramid Center

Other significant eco-improvements include a waste diversion rate of 70 percent, due to increased recycling and composting, and the achievement of a single occupancy vehicle commuter rate of just 13 percent due to the use of alternative transportation (carpooling, walking, public transportation, and cycling). To inspire these efforts, the building does tenant educational programs, including an annual health and sustainability fair, a carbon footprint contest and free electronic recycling events.

“Only a handful of buildings in the city have achieved the highest level of certification in environmental sustainability,” California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the former of San Francisco, said in a statement. “The Transamerica Pyramid’s LEED team is to be commended on their efforts, as they have set the standard of what’s possible for commercial buildings in California and throughout the world.”

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.