The Bay Area’s greenest buildings

355 11th
Facade of the Matarozzi/Pelsinger Building in SOMA.

California is a tough place for an eco-friendly building to stand out, with every new construction or rehab touting its green credentials. And since the state instituted the CALGreen building codes in 2011, almost all new buildings are required to be the equivalent of LEED certified, which means builders have to go the extra green mile to gain any recognition. Not only that, the progressive attitude toward environmental issues and sustainability has put California on the forefront of green building practices for decades. According to the US Green Building Council (, California has over 1,700 LEED certified buildings, by far the most of any state in the country. Check out this list of LEED certified buildings in the Bay Area.

So if you want to be on a list of greenest buildings in the Bay Area, it better be special. The following are a few of the greenest, with a few even qualifying for national green honors.

Matarozzi/Pelsinger Building, 355 Eleventh Street, by Aidlin Darling Design, LEED NC Gold.
This 3-story, 14,000-square-foot historic, turn-of-the-century industrial building was previously derelict before being majorly renovated to mixed-use (office/retail) in 2008. Besides a green roof, solar energy harvesting and natural ventilation, the building features a corrugated and perforated outer skin that satisfies historic-building mandates while providing an opportunity for innovative design. Small holes in the skin allow for light and air to pass through windows behind, mitigating solar heat gain while enabling cross-ventilation inside.


555 Mission, by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates and Heller Manus Architects, LEED CS Gold.
Completed in 2008, the 33-floor high-rise is on the list because it was the first LEED Gold-certified speculative high-rise development in the city. Includes many green elements, including more than half of building construction materials manufactured within 500 miles of the site.

Cal Acad Sci

California Academy of Science, by Renzo Piano Building Workshop and Stantec, LEED NC Platinum and LEED EBOM Platinum.
This is the largest public LEED Platinum-certified building in the world, which includes its famous living roof consisting of native-only plants.

casa verde

La Casa Verde, 3027 25th St., SF, by John Lum Architecture Inc.
Named one of the eight greenest homes in the world by Discovery Channel and the Sunset Idea House for 2007, this two-unit home includes wind turbines and was designed as a zero net energy building.

new resource bank1

New Resource Bank, 405 Howard Street, SF, by hooks ASD, LEED CI Gold.
You won’t find a bank with greener practices, and this one was the first in the state to achieve LEED Gold CI.


Bardessono Hotel, Restaurant, and Spa, Yountville, LEED ND Platinum.
One of only three hotels anywhere to own the distinction of LEED ND Platinum. The hotel uses a system in its guest rooms that senses occupancy and adjusts thermostats accordingly and turning off lights when unoccupied. Solar panels account for half of the properties energy use.


The Urban School of San Francisco, 1563 Page St., LEED EBOM Platinum.
The first school building in the country to be awarded LEED EBOM Platinum certification in 2012. The school has calculated a water savings of 126,000 gallons per year, and has a renewable energy certificate (REC) to offset 100 percent of its energy use over two years.


The Orrick Building, 405 Howard St., LEED EBOM Platinum.
This 10-story office building in SOMA had the highest green score for an existing building anywhere upon completion of work in 2010, including diverting 95 percent of waste material from landfill.


Gish Apartments, San Jose, Calif., OJK Architecture and Planning.
The 35-unit apartment was designed as affordable housing and features a rooftop solar array and sits alongside a light rail line. In 2008, it was the only affordable housing development in the U.S. to receive LEED for Homes and LEED NC Gold certification.


San Francisco Public Utilities Commission Headquarters, 525 Golden Gate Ave., KMD Architects and Stevens & Associates.
On-site wind and solar power systems allow for near net zero power consumption (7 percent), while daylight harvesting and other design measures mean electricity demands for lighting are 45 percent that of typical Class A office buildings.  It’s also one of the first buildings in the US to treat gray and black water on site. The building is seeking LEED Platinum certification.


Marin Country Day School, Learning Resource Center and Courtyard, Corte Madera, EHDD Architecture
With 95 percent of the building naturally lit and ventilated, the school comes in at less than half the energy threshold. The school’s solar array, cooling tower and insulating wood stud framing helped make it the first zero-energy classroom building in North America, and achieve LEED Platinum certification.

Adobe Systems Towers, San Jose
San Francisco Civic Administration Tower
Transbay Terminal

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