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50 UNP LEEDs the way to GSA's new breed of buildings

Rendering of 50 United Nations Plaza
This rendering of 50 United Nations Plaza illustrates plans for natural lighting and ventilation.

Currently undergoing a major renovation and remodel, the federal building at 50 United Nations Plaza in San Francisco, California is on track to be one of GSA’s first LEED® Platinum historical buildings. But is it really just all about LEED?

No. While the U.S. Green Buildings Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) designation is significant, it is only a part of how GSA plans to demonstrate its commitment to sustainability within this project. The project team has already thought about how the building can be smart about how it regulates the use of energy and the release of carbon dioxide. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a program in place to help guide that process. Called "Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR," the program helps commercial architects and their clients save money, save energy, prevent carbon emissions, and answer EPA's call to fight global warming. To qualify, the project must meet 2030 goals for reduced fossil fuel energy consumption, as calculated using the tool provided on the program’s website. The certification is denoted by a graphic for display on architectural drawings and project literature by both the building owner and the project architect.

Committed to this program, GSA demonstrates to the commercial office building community that our project is intended to perform in the top 25 percent of the nation’s most energy efficient office buildings. In addition, it sets the stage for GSA to achieve the ENERGY STAR rating once the building is occupied. ENERGY STAR buildings have a proven track record and yield average annual energy savings of 30 percent. Projects that achieve the "Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR" also promote future financial benefits from reduced energy costs over the life of the building and help create markets for American engineered and American manufactured sustainable building products.

GSA predicts that the federal building at 50 United Nations Plaza will realize an annual energy and CO2 savings of about 59 percent, in contrast to a comparable building without the rating. The projected annual energy savings for this project is 37,107,202 kBtus, or about $393,958. That’s no small change!

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