Bently Reserve | U.S. Green Building Council
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LEED BD+C: Core and Shell v2 - LEED 2.0

Bently Reserve

301 Battery Street
San Francisco, CA 94111
United States

LEED Silver 2009


Goals and motivations



Lessons learned


The below stakeholder perspectives address the following LEED credits:

EAc1, EQc1, EQc4.1, IDc1



Goals and motivations

What were the top overarching goals and objectives?

Brady Frey

Director of Operations, Bently Holdings

Sustainability goals during the restoration and LEED certification included:

  • Conserving the historic value of the building
  • Modernizing and updating the infrastructure
  • Increasing the occupancy rate to 100%

Photo by Bently Holdings

Photo by Bently Holdings

The Bently Reserve is a unique building located in the heart of San Francisco’s financial district, placing it close to many modes of public transportation.

The project principals aimed to appeal to the sustainable leasing industry by automatically securing almost half of the LEED credits from central building upgrades. The building's proximity to multiple public transit systems also places it in one of the most sought-after property markets in San Francisco. Finally, as a large bank building, the space was hospitable to building system upgrades and could accommodate any variety of custom build-outs for future tenants of any business model.

Given these three key building features, the team attempted to make its biggest, most cost-effective gains from the industrial nature of the structure itself. Furthermore, as an events and conference center, project -principals wanted to rebrand the building as one of the most sustainable, yet historic, special event venues in the Bay Area.




What were the most notable strategies used to earn LEED credits?

John McKernan

Project Manager, BCCI Construction

The existing building management system (BMS) was completely replaced to enable monitoring of energy usage and provide automatic control to maximize energy efficiency 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. The new web-based system allows facility maintenance staff to monitor and control building systems virtually.

The most unique aspect of this is control system integration. For example, if a building tenant comes to work on Saturday, in swiping her security card key to enter, the system acknowledges her workspace location, triggering the BMS to monitor her energy usage by plug load, building chiller usage, lighting, and more. This detailed information regarding energy usage by individual level gives the building owner the option to alert tenants regarding energy usage, thereby promoting energy efficiency. In addition, facility staff can determine customized configurations to minimize energy consumption. This system is in contrast to traditional demand response programs available to larger facilities via direct agreements with utility companies that involve penalties for non-responsiveness. Most load curtailment "events" are two or four hours long and occur during the peak demand time, 2pm to 6pm.


Mark Mayfield

Chief Engineer, Bently Holdings

Associated credits EAc1, EQc1, EQc4.1

Although not tied directly to any LEED credits, participation in this plan was a good fit for the Bently Reserve. Money is saved immediately by reduction of electrical power use, and the demand response aggregators provide a stipend-sometimes several thousand dollars-at the end of each season based on how many events are called.

Under ideal conditions, the Bently Reserve can safely drop 150 kilowatts (kW) of power (from a total of 400 kW), using the direct digital control system and lighting controller to reduce supply fan speed, disable chillers, reduce building-wide lighting load by 10%, and shut off basement lighting and HVAC. San Francisco is typically cool and foggy, so if Bently Reserve is called to reduce load, it is usually not a tenant comfort problem.

The Bently Reserve: A Historic Building's LEED certification from Bently Reserve on Vimeo.

This historic bank building was once plagued by vacancies. LEED certification gave it a competitive edge in one of the country's most aggressive commercial markets.Today, it boasts near full occupancy, and operates one of the West Coasts most stylish and sustainable special events venue and conference center.

Air & Lighting

The main HVAC control system was upgraded to a direct-digital control system by Automated Logic. This eliminated an outdated pneumatic control system, allowing more efficient control of airflow and office temperature. The existing chillers (industrial-sized cooling compressors) were replaced with units that used a newer, environmentally-friendly, R-134a refrigerant (rather than R-11).

Electrical, lighting, and security control systems were also replaced. The new building-wide lighting controller from Lutron addresses each lighting fixture individually and allows central control and selective dimming of every fixture. The Reserve was a pioneer client of the new Ecosystem dimmable fluorescent lighting system. As a result, it has been able to closely monitor energy usage and alter electrical demand load. During high-peak electrical demand days, the Reserve can reduce electrical use in HVAC and lighting loads from a central front end. Peak demand reduction results in reduced energy costs and significant rebates for participation. In the conference center, custom iPad applications make controlling lighting and audio visual functions convenient for clients while saving energy. Fire alarm and security control systems were also replaced with more modern systems by Honeywell and Hirsch.

Materials Selection: Preserving & Enhancing

Throughout this refit, the building's original character was scrupulously maintained and, in some cases, enhanced. For example, the chandeliers in the banking hall were designed by George Kelham himself to showcase electricity as a new technology. Rather than installing new fixtures, the project team methodically reconditioned these original pieces with subtle state-of-the-art lighting to save energy consumption.

Photo by Bently Holdings

Photo by Bently Holdings

The Bently Reserve’s original banking hall was meticulously preserved throughout its LEED certification with state-of-the-art technology and lighting subtly added to enhance its Art Deco style while conserving energy.

The second-floor conference center contains the historic executive offices and board rooms of the Federal Reserve. The original character of these rooms-featuring walnut paneling, Verde Antique marble door sills, and marble fireplaces-was carefully maintained. Elsewhere, the character of the building was enhanced via subtle additions; for example, the countertops at the secretarial and security stations are made of the same marble that graces the historic board rooms. The "X" motif on the metal grills of the building's exterior and second-floor mezzanine were recalled by the woodwork surrounding the newer workstations. New flooring was selected from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified resources.

Photo by Bently Holdings

Photo by Bently Holdings

Special attention was paid to preserving the original Beaux-Arts style of the building, while applying modern technologies and sustainable design. New flooring was selected from Forest Stewardship Council certified resources.

Spaces such as the banking hall were restored to employ modern technology while accentuating building history. Hand-painted travertine walls were restored to their original state, and the original Italian marble floor, Doric columns, and grand staircase were carefully reconditioned. The building's historic murals, painted by progressive era artist and architectural delineator Jules Guerin, were cleaned and preserved. Bike racks were also installed in order to facilitate green commuting.

Photo by Bently Holdings

Photo by Bently Holdings

With an average daily population of 652 employees and visitors, bike racks and changing rooms provide a crucial amenity for commuters while reducing carbon footprint.

Currently, the building's upper floors are leased to notable tenants such as SmithGroupJJR, the Bar Association of San Francisco, Baker Ave, and the Energy Foundation. Since purchasing the building in 2005, the Bently Reserve owners have cultivated a green environment by requiring all new tenants to design and certify their office space at a minimum of LEED Silver Commercial Interiors.

Low-VOC stains, varnishes, and Eco Spec paints by Benjamin Moore were used. Finally, other details were not overlooked in the endeavor to keep the building refit sustainable. Native, climate-appropriate plants that require less water were installed on the terraces, all millwork has FSC wood veneers that are formaldehyde-free MDF. Linoleum Armstrong marmorette, with 35% pre-consumer recycled content, was installed with low-VOC glues. Finally, 75% of all construction waste was diverted from landfill.

Office & Event Waste

As an events and conference center, the Bently Reserve must take unique factors into consideration. Management carefully monitors and diverts more than 75% of waste to landfill and engineering staff closely monitors energy use and occupancy during conferences and events. In the conference center, paperless technology is promoted.

Photo by Cesar Rubio Photography / TANNERHECHT Architecture

Photo by Photo by Cesar Rubio Photography / TANNERHECHT Architecture

Though a classically styled building, the Reserve's spaces are flexible and accommodate a variety of green build-outs.




Aside from LEED certification, what do you consider key project successes?

Brady Frey

Director of Operations, Bently Holdings

The building's central location in one of San Francisco's core business districts was crucial to project success and was a primary reason it was purchased from Boston Properties. The historic value of the building cannot be underestimated, though it was a challenge maintaining its unique character while modernizing its core and shell. This project's largest success is that the building is a unique specimen of Beaux-Arts architecture and classic interior design, yet houses ultra-contemporary LEED certified office spaces while boasting some of the best building management systems available today.

Photo by Bently Holdings

Photo by Bently Holdings

The first floor is used for special events, the second as a conference center, and the upper floors as commercial office space.



Lessons Learned

What one thing saved you or the project team the most time, money, or helped avoid an obstacle during the LEED process? What one thing cost you the most?

Alex Spilger

Director of Sustainability, BCCI Construction

Associated credits IDc1

Building management, led by the property manager and chief engineer, has made it a priority to engage tenants. They encourage them to become equal stewards of the environment by ensuring that they meet the minimum environmental standards set by the building. This commitment extends from the top down: employees and tenants alike have bought into the concept. It is clear from working with tenants that they take pride in not just their own space, but in the building itself.

The Bently Reserve seeks tenants who are the right fit for the building; new tenants must pursue LEED for Commercial Interiors Silver certification or higher and be willing to work with the engineering team to maximize energy efficiency, for example, by installing lighting motion sensors and harvesting daylight. Building management requests that tenants buy ENERGY STAR electronics and adhere to the building wide compost, recycle, battery, and e-waste programs.

A LEED Green Associate, property manager Anne Hill is knowledgeable about LEED guidelines and believes that education, collaboration, and hands-on support can empower green business. She functions as a liaison between new tenants, USGBC, and building management. Her knowledge and experience make custom tenant build-outs, retrofits, and upgrades smooth. Management provides building-wide yearly trainings on composting and recycling, as well as tenant-specific trainings throughout the year. During these training sessions, lunch is provided. At the end of the meeting, trainees need to figure out which bin each item of lunch refuse should go into: compost, recycle, or landfill.

The Management also funds quarterly e-waste and battery collections pick up. Each tenant is also given a bucket in which to collect batteries throughout the year. Both the e-waste and battery collection are funded by building management, and embody its deep commitment to protecting the planet by responsibly handling these sensitive materials.


Neha Doshi LEED AP BD+C

LEED consultant, SmithGroupJJR

One challenge involved the exterior window glaze U-Factor. Because this is a historic building, glazing specifications were not directly available from the manufacturer. The Bently Reserve therefore underwent its own testing to determine U-values of glazing, which directly impacted LEED energy efficiency and daylighting credits. In the end, the team achieved these credits while preserving the building's historic nature through resourceful problem solving.


Mark Mayfield

Chief Engineer, Bently Holdings

The Bently Reserve is a multi-use property: it is both a conference center and office building. From day one, this provided a unique challenge since many existing event contracts were inherited with the building purchase, making building upgrades particularly challenging because work had to be scheduled around these events. When the new chillers were craned up more than 130 feet to the roof, for example, all activity had to be complete before a wedding that evening.

Photo by Bently Holdings

Photo by Bently Holdings

The BMS provides facility staff the ability to obtain very detailed information regarding energy usage by tenant, down to the individual level.

Demolition and construction of the tenant floors had to be scheduled around events in the main banking hall downstairs, which continues to be a challenge to this day with tenant build-outs and special projects. Construction noise is easily transmitted through the building concrete and steel and can sometimes be heard or felt throughout the building. Dust from construction, and contractor materials and personnel also contribute to interruptions. Scheduling around events sometimes contributes to increased costs due to after-hours labor and delays in project completion.


What was the value of applying LEED to this project?

Anne Hill

Property Manager, Bently Reserve

The Bently Reserve operated for years with a vacancy rate near 100%. LEED certification gave it a competitive edge in one of the country's most aggressive commercial markets, and the building has operated near full capacity for the past several years. The owners require that all tenants achieve LEED for Commercial Interiors at the Silver level. The Energy Foundation , the building's fifth floor tenant, was the first LEED Platinum for Commercial Interiors project in California.

As an events and conference center, the building is valued by potential clients as one of the greenest venues in the Bay Area; current market trends for weddings and events place enormous value on smart design and sustainability. Because of this, the Reserve's LEED certification has made it one of the most sought-after venues on the West Coast.



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Project details
198,509 sf
Major Renovation
Urban Core
20 Nov 2009