A Sneak Peek at Three Greenbuild Tours | U.S. Green Building Council
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Ever been to a community aquatic center powered by solar thermal? See it on the Innovation & Transition tour.

What are the hidden gems among this year’s rich roster of Greenbuild tours?

Each tour offers a great opportunity to get outside the convention center and experience sustainable design in person—and get to the know the Bay Area. (Read my recent tours article for more on that).

This year’s green building tours offer an opportunity to see spaces and places that are often closed to the public or off the beaten track, and to hear about projects from the thought leaders who made them happen. Plus, they’re open to the general public – just register a la carte on the Greenbuild website.

Here’s a sampling to get you started.

If you are looking for a fun tour on Saturday, consider Innovation & Transition: Revitalizing a City with Sun & Fun - Nov. 17 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Here’s the skinny: Richmond is a former ship-building, industrial Bay Area community that has suffered from rough times in the past 60 years. But recently, amazing renewal has brewed, with the opening of new parks, community centers, and businesses. This tour will visit inspirational buildings in this transitional city. Highlights will include the renovated Ford Assembly Plant (a 2011 AIA Honor Award-winning historic renovation project), a house made from shipping containers, a community aquatic center powered by solar thermal, and a California Department of Public Health, LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance certified office that has heroically pushed the green envelope for over 10 years.

Another full day tour on Saturday that you might want to consider: The Presidio: Revitalizing San Francisco’s Most Scenic and Historic Park. This tour will cover the rich history of San Francisco while showing participants how historical places are being updated to meet today’s high performance standards. The Presidio, a decommissioned military base on the coast of San Francisco, is a spectacularly scenic and progressive park that is embracing smart growth and adaptive reuse. This tour will visit sites inside the park, and address how the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system is applied. We will tour the Presidio Landmark, an adaptive reuse of a historic building in the Presidio that now houses 154 dwelling units. Attendees will then tour the scenic Lands End Lookout Welcome Center at the trailhead overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Marin Headlands. The tour will conclude with a visit to the Haas Lilienthal House, a “Painted Lady” San Francisco style Victorian home that is currently undergoing a greening rehabilitation.

If a half-day tour on Saturday is more your speed, consider this one: Hunters Point: New Neighborhoods, New HOPE. Bayview-Hunter’s Point is San Francisco’s largest community of low-income residents. Having endured decades of negative environmental impacts from highways, wastewater treatment plants, power plants and industry, there are now two new projects revitalizing the neighborhood and creating opportunities for disadvantaged youth. Hunter’s View is an 800-unit LEED for Neighborhood Development Silver redevelopment replacing a distressed public housing project with neighborhood scale stormwater management, well-connected public spaces and new housing for a mix of incomes. The EcoCenter at Heron’s Head Park is San Francisco’s only off-grid building for both power and wastewater, providing environmental education for elementary/secondary students and employment opportunities for local youth.

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