LEED O+M: Existing Buildings v3 - LEED 2009
One Bush Street
LEED Platinum 2011
* This profile has been peer-reviewed by a USGBC-selected team of technical experts.
Goals and successes
What were the top overarching goals and objectives?
As a corporation, we have a commitment to sustainable practices and in San Francisco, we have had programs in place for a number of years on resource efficiency. Getting recognition for this effort was a big goal for One Bush.
What were the motivations to pursue LEED certification and how did they influence the project?
- Cost/utility savings
- Market competitiveness
- Organizational priority
One Bush Street (along with other west coast assets) began pursuing LEED certification to accomplish three main goals:
- To reduce overall impact of operations on the environment
- To create a more positive and enjoyable working environment for our tenants
- To increase profitability of our asset.
These three goals were set by Tishman Speyer as an organizational priority. They were set because Tishman Speyer realizes that through these goals, it will increase the competitiveness of its assets through creating working environments that tenants want to be in, and at the same time, it will create operational efficiencies, such as reduced water and energy costs.
Aside from LEED certification, what do you consider key project successes?
One Bush has achieved a high ENERGY STAR score, water efficiency has increased, and waste numbers have been significantly reduced - all of which has reduced operating costs.
Reducing operating costs while achieving the highest level of certification possible has been the greatest success.
I believe that the biggest success is the education of the project team and their ability to see that operating a sustainable building is an ongoing management strategy, not a one-time certification.
Some of the ongoing key successes linked directly to the certification process included:
- Water reduction in the fixtures and fittings
- Ongoing water usage monitoring, including base building and sub-metering
- Energy usage has been looked at in a new and inventive way and the project is now experimenting with new energy modeling software
What were the most notable strategies used to earn LEED credits?
Several years ago, Tishman Speyer came out with standard operating procedures that were the building blocks that led into LEED. Five to six years ago, we documented how we'd be more sustainable and each property had to create an action plan. These were rolled into the older versions of LEED and have been updated since to complement the new versions. The cost savings of trash diversion have far outweighed the cost of a sustainable program. We've seen it in the reduction in energy use and trash hauling costs, and the bottom line is that the building is less expensive to operate. The owner has created an in-depth purchasing and waste policy that is consistent across the entire portfolio, which contributed to Materials & Resources prerequisites 1-2 and credits 2, 3-4, and 7-9.
One Bush Street was the first San Francisco commercial building to implement the composting program with 100% tenant participation. It can be challenging getting tenant and janitorial buy-in and involvement in composting, but at One Bush, it wasn't. This is because we've had the system in place for several years and we did an initial survey to see who was willing to participate in composting and recycling. Initially, people were really asking about what it entailed because it was so new, but most tenants were interested. Partnering with SF Environmental, a city program, we got support materials (posters, flyers, and stickers) to educate tenants. It took a couple of months, but eventually they were all on board with it. We created a green team throughout the building with at least one employee out of our 20 to 25 tenants dedicated to program. We conducted follow-up training and audits to make sure we were continuing with the success. Once in awhile, we have hiccups with new tenants or people not being aware, but the program is generally smooth. We also educated our janitorial staff on separating recycling from trash and composting - they learned that this is not more work, just a different way of collecting the material. We rewarded the custodial staff with quarterly gift certificates.
One of the strategies that stick out the most is the integration of the work-order system to ensure that the policies created would be followed on an ongoing basis. Tishman Speyer uses a work-order system called Angus. Many of the policies and procedures were standardized, assigned, and can now be tracked through Angus. For example, every six months, a work order is sent to one of the engineers to perform an I-BEAM audit. The engineer performs the audit and ensures that all issues are remedied and if not, the problems are logged and resolutions are discussed. Work orders are monitored on an ongoing basis by property managers and asset management. This strategy helped us meet credits Sustainable Sites credit 6, Energy & Atmosphere credit 3.1, and Indoor Environmental Quality credits 1.1 and 2.1. The tenants use Angus to request that furniture or electronic goods be taken out, to submit concerns about heating and cooling, and to track trends over time. Tishman Speyer also uses this system as a pseudo ongoing commissioning process for many of its projects.
What additional green strategies did not directly contribute to a LEED credit?
Although One Bush is a multi-tenant building and was not able to achieve the credit for purchasing ongoing consumables, Materials & Resources credit 1, we have begun to educate and encourage tenants to purchase sustainable goods.
Through this project, the tenants have become more aware of their habits. During the LEED performance period, this may not have contributed to reduced waste or energy, but over time, having these strategies in place is helping to change the ways of the tenants - for example, by turning off lights and water.
Courtesy of Tishman Speyer
Also, from a community perspective, One Bush involves the tenant's families. They host events, such as coloring competitions, to make the building feel more like a community. They have also worked with other buildings in Tishman Speyer's portfolio in San Francisco to create value for its tenants. For example, there are free yoga classes offered to One Bush tenants through another building in the portfolio that is within walking distance.
What unique strategies were applied specifically because of climate or region?
The project uses 78% less water than similar buildings in San Francisco because of two primary factors, manual irrigation monitoring and landscape design. San Francisco is in an urban core and has an unusual amount of landscape. Because San Francisco has cool summers and mild, moist winters, landscape irrigation is often unnecessary. The project has opted for a manual irrigation method as opposed to automated. As part of their daily process, building staff walk the grounds and look at the plants and feel the dirt. If the plants look as if they need water or the earth feels very dry, then they water them, but only for as much as is needed. Landscape design was important as native/adaptive plants need less water and are also more resilient to native pests. Specific design factors like sandy soil and grading retain a greater amount of water and divert less run-off to the municipal stormwater system.
How was the integrative process applied and what was the greatest benefit gained?
All of the team members supported each other. It's a lot of work to do the LEED documentation and everyone still has their other jobs to do. It was important getting everyone on board to support each other so that if someone needed help, someone else would pitch in. It brought us closer together and all project team members now have a much clearer understanding of sustainable operations and the value it brings to a successful operation.
Having an enthusiastic team is an important factor. Because sustainability is such a new concept for most of us, we were forced to work together, learn together and understand how each department's sustainable practices bring value to the success of this project. Five years ago, I didn't know what LEED was and what composting was. Working together and educating everyone together has been a success of this project.
The One Bush project, originally slated to pursue a LEED Gold-level certification, was re-evaluated mid-way through the LEED process and the team realized that, with creative collaboration on alternative solutions and processes, they could obtain Platinum level certification. Through careful project management and inclusion of key players from different departments at Tishman Speyer in weekly calls, the team achieved the certification with only two additional months of work. Often, the costs of water fixture and energy efficiency upgrades make up a large portion of project costs. Most projects work through a trial and error process, with average costs ending up around $2.40 per square foot. For One Bush Street, they came out $0.31 per square foot, much of which can be linked to the collaborative process of a portfolio ownership.
The most important things for the success of this project were having all of the stakeholders involved; owner and management buy-in; having a good consultant on board; and ensuring the tenants were aware and bought in. The portfolio approach was also a huge help.
The best metric to judge the success of a project has nothing to do with the LEED credits or scorecard or certification level. It's the team that really makes a light year's difference. I highly doubt that we could have achieved Platinum without having team buy-in and support. We were able to pivot quickly and get everyone on board to go past the budget already approved to go for Platinum. This was possible because we had total senior-level buy-in in advance and they were ready to work with our owners and investors to make that decision fairly quickly and could move forward. And with the portfolio approach, we had good teams that could work together to mitigate any issues.
Which building codes, zoning or regulatory requirements influenced decisions and how?
California Title 24. The City of San Francisco now requires projects over 25,000 square feet to certify LEED.
When was energy modeling used and how effective was it?
Energy modeling has been used at the property for years, both prior to and during LEED, and will continue to be effective through re-certification.
What value did commissioning add?
The value of commissioning was that it helped us find low-hanging fruit - five or six low/no-cost items - all done during the performance period. One Bush performed a thorough testing of its systems (including HVAC, lighting, electricity) to make sure they work and interact as designed. This comprehensive testing identified 11 different savings opportunities that would obtain a deemed savings of over 300,000 kilowatt hours and 450,000 kBTUs that equates to an estimated annual cost savings of over $75,000. Many of these upgrades were low-cost or no-cost items, and the commissioning process also helped to create a capital plan for other upgrades that have a significant return and a low pay-back. One Bush has also committed to ongoing commissioning because of the value that the process has already added to the project.
Upgrades related to commissioning included: turning out the minimum outside air damper settings (low-cost and very short payback period); a damper setting analysis that would save over 450,000 kBTU's and save an estimated $15,000 a year; a condenser water reset (less than a year payback); optimized chiller operations; and a lighting retrofit in the lobby area (estimated savings of 12,000 kilowatt hours per year). They've budgeted to do a lighting retrofit and installing occupancy sensors in stairwells and offices. From a policy perspective, Tishman Speyer has instilled this requirement in all occupant spaces as leases roll, in order to accomplish these retrofits at the most efficient time
Lobby - Courtesy of Tishman Speyer
What synergies impacted the project and how?
A simple landscaping decision was made prior to starting the LEED performance period when they had already decided to pursue LEED. They decided to use native, adaptive plants and not have hardscaping. This enabled a lot of LEED credits and plenty of green synergies, including better stormwater diversion, reduced heat island effect, reduced irrigation, less pesticides and better land management practice. By making that one decision and being proactive about it prior to going for LEED, the team created a lot of positive things that came out of it.
As a company, we have taken a portfolio approach, which I think is an example of a synergy. We want all of our property managers, regional engineers, project leaders and any consultants to be learning in multiple ways by doing three or four projects at the same time, learning from one another and taking different approaches to different credits. While one-off projects work, they're not nearly as effective as when property managers can discuss how to solve problems. This works really well in our larger markets. We're doing this in San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, and the Washington, DC regions. We have groupings of easy and harder buildings, based on the level of complexity of the LEED project and certification level, as well as the performance of the building today.
Sustainability director Jonathan Flaherty describing how Tishman Speyer is using a portfolio approach to greening its building stock.
What were the most important long- and short-term value-add strategies and what returns on investment (ROI) have been experienced or anticipated?
The strategies we put in place offered relatively quick ROIs. The largest amount of money was spent on changing porcelain out in the toilets, but this had a payback of several years, so it was still worth doing. Ongoing metering of energy and water use enables the project to continually focus on efficient operations.
In the recycling and composting program, there's an annual savings of almost $25,000. A lot of the change was just adjusting practices; there wasn't much of a financial investment. In the end, we reduced our disposal costs by over 50%.
In the short run, One Bush installed sub-meters for both water and energy in order to continue to monitor and identify future opportunities. They also retrofitted the entire building with new fixtures and fittings, which has shown a 19% reduction in overall water costs.
How is occupant behavior impacting the project’s sustainability?
One Bush was unable to achieve the LEED credit for purchasing ongoing consumables, Materials and Resources credit 1, because we were unable to obtain proper documentation from the tenants, many of which didn't have purchasing policies in place. We have since begun to educate and encourage tenants to purchase sustainable goods by providing vendor contact info and other resources. In addition, we have requested for all tenants to keep a file on-hand with proof of purchase for all of their ongoing consumables. While this isn't mandatory of tenants, it's a recommendation.
Beyond the project, what impacts have the LEED and green strategies had?
By implementing strict policies and procedures that must be followed by the building, this has forced the industries that serve the commercial building sector to re-invent themselves. For example, tracking and monitoring green cleaning supplies and the requirement to meet sustainable product threshold is being written into the bidding process. If the janitorial industry is unable to meet the green cleaning requirements, then they will lose the business. These policies are becoming part of the inherent operation of the vendors, as well as the building owners and operators.
The LEED process has educated all of the employees, tenants and building vendors about the benefits of sustainable practices.
What project challenges became important lessons learned?
One challenge was meeting the LEED water efficiency credits because the building was built in 1959 and updated in 1988. But we tried a couple less-expensive options prior to what we ended up with, such as changing flush valves. This worked ok on the urinals, but didn't always clear the bowl on the toilets. We ended up getting complaints because people had to flush twice. We had to replace the porcelain part and add new flush valves, and we went with dual-handles versus the previous automatic flush. There was a learning curve for our tenants on how to use it, but that went fairly well. Finding porcelain that would match a wall installed in 1988 or earlier and meet the new water efficiency standards was a challenge, but we found one that we could install relatively quickly with in-house labor and a relatively minimal cost. We also found that thermal comfort monitoring was difficult to achieve due to the multi-tenant population and low response rate.
If I could do this project again, I would also have spent more time with the building staff and vendors, getting them to understand more about the details of LEED and the amount of work required to document it. Kristin was a great consultant, invaluable in managing LEED Online, but giving a better understanding to all staff members could have made the documentation process smoother. It has gotten smoother on future buildings since One Bush, as we've been able to adapt all of the submittals to other buildings.
Getting all of our vendors on board with tracking sustainable practices was a challenge at times. However, we all worked together and developed systems in place. The existing pest management vendor didn't have an integrated pest management system in place - this was very new for them and so we were starting from scratch. In the end, I think that they were using us as a pilot to get a sustainable system in place for other properties.
Finally, some of the credits were a bit puzzling and we didn't know if our design features would satisfy the LEED credits. We used the Optional Narrative section, documented generously, and were successful in attaining the credits.
The most important lesson learned was the importance of buy-in from all stakeholders. There needs to be communication and participation from the ownership, management, service providers and tenants. Without the participation and support of each stakeholder, the project would not have been a success. Along the same lines, the project leaned that it would not have been successful without an integrated approach. In addition to having multiple stakeholders on the LEED project calls, other buildings in the portfolio also participated so that shared strategies and theories could increase the efficiency with which the projects completed the certification.
It is also important to set aside the necessary time for the management and engineering staff. The building had originally intended to do a "light LEED management" program and intended to complete the majority of the documentation on their own, only bringing in a consultant for light guidance. But after the first month of the project, they recognized the needed time commitment for a project like this and decided to bring on more help on the consulting side. The value of LEED was realized by the owner, but the project team learned how important it is that the time commitment is communicated to the whole project staff so that resources can be allocated efficiently.
Another challenge was with the green cleaning credits. We needed to readjust the products that they were buying, which involved sitting down and communicating with the vendors to resolve this.
What key moments adjusted the project’s direction or outcomes?
When we came on, they had already done the gap analysis, and the project was originally slated for LEED Gold. Because of the integrative approach and Tishman Speyer's portfolio approach, we were able to ultimately go for Platinum. Through this portfolio approach, Tishman Speyer had integrated a number of buildings on the West Coast at once to go through the certification process. This meant that all of the projects were on weekly phone calls together, sharing their experiences and problem solving together. As a result, they were able to talk about and discover efficient solutions together. A key moment was when there was a lot of talk about fitting and fixture LEED water credits for another building across the street going for LEED at the same time. We were able to apply those same solutions to One Bush with a lot less time spent on the research portion of it. Because of that, One Bush got up to almost 75 LEED credits, which wasn't expected, and the team then decided that they wanted to consider going to Platinum. This got people to a point where there was a lot of support, motivation and energy from the group.
As a firm, we took a portfolio approach. We grouped together a few buildings on the west coast that we thought were the easiest; at that point, we were thinking LEED Silver or Gold. We gained approval from the ownership for funds. With One Bush, we got to the point where we realized that for very little money, we had a chance to get Platinum. At that time, we put more effort into the additional documentation. Making that decision to go for Platinum was a significant point, but we wanted to do it strictly through building operations; we didn't want to pursue renewable energy, for example.
About four years ago, we participated in the local BOMA Earth awards contest and One Bush won first place in the city. This was a significant moment because it established us a leader and led us to decide that we should pursue more goals and achieve everything we can to be the most sustainable building here.
How has this project influenced your approach to other projects?
One of the unique things about One Bush is that it's a 50-year-old, multi-tenant building that has achieved LEED Platinum with no major retrofits. This building was able to achieve the level of success it has at a low cost because of stringent management, landscape, water, and energy strategies that were in place prior to LEED certification. I use One Bush and the strategies applied on it as a prime example for other projects - if a building that's a lot older can earn these results, other buildings can get there, too. I use it as an example primarily in regards to energy efficiency, whether for a LEED or energy management/efficiency project - and also with utilities, which want to know which buildings in their area are going for LEED.
From this project in particular, I learned the value of buy-in from every key stakeholder on the project - the ownership, management team, engineering team and tenants. I also learned that, especially in a multi-tenant building, it's really important to have strong communication with the tenants from the get-go.
And, working on this project reinforced the need to make forward-looking decisions with vendors by taking an operational policy you have and integrating it into the contract. To be market transformational, you can't look at something from just a single building perspective; you have to figure out how as a single building, you can effect change on a larger scale. Tishman Speyer is applying contract language used for One Bush into other projects and has written very detailed policies for all of its vendors - green cleaning, integrated pest management, landscape management, etc. They're making sure their vendors are aware of these policies and are also integrating them into contracts before they sign with vendors - in this way, only vendors willing to abide by these stipulations are selected.
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