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680 Folsom Awarded Prestigious LEED® Platinum Green Building Certification

Photos © SOM (left) and © Cesar Rubio (right)

San Francisco: 680 Folsom has been LEED® certified to the Platinum level, as established by the U.S. Green Building Council and verified by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI). LEED is the nation’s preeminent program for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings.

The renovation consisted of the rehabilitation of two adjoining buildings into an office complex, located in the heart of San Francisco’s vibrant South of Market (SOMA) District. The project team utilized creative sustainable solutions and careful design to reinvent the aging commercial complex. Often, the trend in large-scale urban development is to demolish existing buildings and start anew, but 680 Folsom was transformed from the inside out. The team created several small floor plate additions to transform the building's massing. Fortress-like, concrete facade panels and the entire service core were removed, exposing the building to its steel skeleton. The insertion of a new concrete core substantially improved the building’s seismic resiliency. A high perimeter stone wall, which blocked the entrance from the street, was removed to create an open, light, and welcoming space that engages the community.

680 Folsom achieved LEED certification for energy savings, efficient water use, lighting and material use, and incorporating a variety of other sustainable strategies. The new envelope contributed to a significant improvement in energy performance while vertical aluminum fins on the building's northwest-facing facade shield the glazing from the setting sun. Perhaps the most important sustainable strategy was born out of the decision to preserve and renovate the existing building superstructure. The project has significantly lower embodied energy compared to new construction.

“680 Folsom’s LEED certification demonstrates tremendous green building leadership,” said Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO & Founding Chair, U.S. Green Building Council. “The urgency of USGBC’s mission has challenged the industry to move faster and reach further than ever before, and 680 Folsom serves as a prime example with just how much we can accomplish.”

LEED certification of 680 Folsom was based on a number of green design and construction features that positively impact the project itself and the broader community. These features include:

- Energy cost savings of 25.2% due to an improved thermal envelope, high efficiency fenestration, reduced interior lighting power density, reduced exterior lighting power, demand control ventilation and high efficiency chillers and boilers.

- Reduced potable water use by 40.8% from a calculated baseline design through the installation of water closets, urinals, and lavatory faucets.

- Minimum 2% glazing factor in 84.31% of all regularly occupied spaces; affords direct line of sight views for 98.56% of all regularly occupied spaces. 

- Maintained 75.17% of the existing structural elements.

- Reconfigured building core performs as a structural pivoting spine, which redistributes seismic deformations throughout the structure in case of an earthquake.

- Landscaping and outdoor terraces at the ground floor, level two, and on the roof to serve the building users.

About Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) is one of the leading architecture, interior design, engineering, and urban planning firms in the world, with a 75-year reputation for design excellence and a portfolio that includes some of the most important architectural accomplishments of the 20th and 21st centuries. Since its inception, SOM has been a leader in the research and development of specialized technologies, new processes and innovative ideas, many of which have had a palpable and lasting impact on the design profession and the physical environment. The firm’s longstanding leadership in design and building technology has been honored with more than 1,700 awards for quality, innovation, and management. The American Institute of Architects has recognized SOM twice with its highest honor, the Architecture Firm Award — in 1962 and again in 1996. The firm maintains offices in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., London, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Mumbai, and Abu Dhabi.

U.S. Green Building Council

The Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Green Building Council is committed to a prosperous and sustainable future for our nation through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings.

With a community comprising 80 local affiliates, more than 18,000 member companies and organizations, and more than 167,000 LEED Professional Credential holders, USGBC is the driving force of an industry that is projected to contribute $554 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product from 2009-2013. USGBC leads an unlikely diverse constituency of builders and environmentalists, corporations and nonprofit organizations, elected officials and concerned citizens, and teachers and students.

Buildings in the United States are responsible for 39% of CO2 emissions, 40% of energy consumption, 13% water consumption and 15% of GDP per year, making green building a source of significant economic and environmental opportunity. Greater building efficiency can meet 85% of future U.S. demand for energy, and a national commitment to green building has the potential to generate 2.5 million American jobs.


The U.S. Green Building Council's LEED green building certification system is the foremost program for the design, construction and operation of green buildings. Over 100,000 projects are currently participating in the LEED rating systems, comprising over 8 billion square feet of construction space in all 50 states and 114 countries.

By using less energy, LEED-certified buildings save money for families, businesses and taxpayers; reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and contribute to a healthier environment for residents, workers and the larger community.

USGBC was co-founded by current President and CEO Rick Fedrizzi, who spent 25 years as a Fortune 500 executive. Under his 15-year leadership, the organization has become the preeminent green building, membership, policy, standards, influential, education and research organization in the nation.

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