PHOTOS: Transbay Transit Center Hardhat Construction Tour

To call the new $4 billion Transbay Transit Center development anything less than spectacular would be a gross understatement. The sheer magnitude and scale of the project is staggering and the cutting edge building and engineering processes being implemented will make your head spin.

The Transbay Joint Powers Authority (TJPA) which oversees the project, generously offered to give the USGBC’s Northern California Chapter a behind the scenes construction tour, which followed an extremely informative powerpoint presentation.  Due to overwhelming demand, the tour was available only to current members of the USGBC’s Northern California Chapter and registration for the free event closed in less than one day. (Click here for information about joining our chapter.)

Sustainable design and construction is at the center of the project and comes with its own set of challenges due to the size of the development. As Brian Meinrath from environmental design consultant Atelier Ten explained, some laws didn’t even exist to allow some of the things they wanted to do, such as recapturing graywater from sinks to flush toilets. They worked with local government to create standards and permit its use.

The project is truly an engineering marvel requiring unprecedented levels of communication and cooperation amongst firms and agencies.

The project team is clearly world-class and the USGBC’s Northern California Chapter couldn’t be more thankful for their time and expertise. Thanks again!

TJPA: Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan
Transbay PMPC team: Joyce Oishi
Turner Construction: Jack Adams
Atelier Ten: Brian Meinrath
WSP: Wayne Gaw
Integrated Environmental Solutions: Mark Knipfer

Volunteer. Make it count. The U.S. Green Building Council

Anyone interested in learning more about the USGBC’s San Francisco Bay Bridge Branch is invited to attend our monthly leadership meeting:

First Monday of every month:
560 Mission Street, 9th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105

I began volunteering with the Chapter over seven years ago, and it has proved to be the most beneficial and rewarding organizations I could have joined.

Volunteering with the Chapter and getting involved with one of our committees gives you a chance to engage with other like-minded professionals who value sustainability, and want to change and improve how we build, occupy and manage our built environment.  However, it’s more than just networking and making lasting and valuable business and personal relationships.  The members of our Branch’s leadership team are responsible for putting ideas into action that help shape public opinion while educating others about the importance of working in a “healthy building” and reducing our environmental footprint.  We host approximately 10 local community events annually, whose impact is not to be understated as they play a crucial role in furthering green building advocacy while providing educational opportunities for those already in, and outside of our normal sphere of influence.

I look forward to meeting new friends at our meeting and catching up with familiar faces.

Benjamin Osgood
U.S. Green Building Council – Northern California Chapter
San Francisco Bay Bridge Branch

U.S. Green Building Council – Northern California Chapter
San Francisco Bay Bridge Branch

Smart Office Leasing Strategies are Inherently Green

A skillful commercial real estate advisor approaches each transaction with the goal of obtaining the best deal and terms possible for their client, while also identifying a space that will maximize employee comfort and productivity. The advisor also plays a key role in influencing how the new office is built out and constructed, as well as where the office is located.

Sustainable business practices just happen to exist within the intersection of all of these goals; and if they do not, they should.

There are many opportunities throughout a commercial lease transaction to save the client money, and many of them also have the added benefit of being more responsible decisions, environmentally. Here are few examples of leasing strategies that easily align to accomplish both smart business and environmental goals:


Having an office located within a high-density area makes a lot of business sense; it makes a company more accessible to a wider and deeper labor and customer pool, and associated car parking costs can be reduced by simply being connected to multiple mass transit options. The positive environmental impact of removing single-passenger cars from the road are many, and employees who bike or walk to the office are not only happier and healthier, but more productive while at work.

Giving preference to LEED Certified buildings is a great start to any office search, as the ownership has already taken the necessary steps to reduce energy, waste and water consumption, and improve indoor air quality.


By identifying an office that most closely matches the client’s desired configuration, a better rental rate can be negotiated since the landlord’s cost of construction will be lower. However, scaling back the scope of the tenant improvements also helps to reduce added pressure on new resources as well as minimizing construction waste that would have otherwise been sent to a landfill.

Boosting employee health and comfort also increases productivity, and one of the most effective ways to do that is to increase access to natural daylight. This is most easily accomplished in an open office plan along a window line, however if private offices are necessary, then utilizing glass will allow sunlight to permeate the office. If the tenant is located on the top floor of the building, skylights are often inexpensive and effective. Increasing the availability of natural sunlight simultaneously reduces the need for overhead lighting – and reducing energy consumption leads to cost savings.


With the sheer surplus of used and refurbished office furniture available today, purchasing new is most often a waste of money. The leasing broker has relationships with many furniture vendors who can provide an office tenant with quality used furniture, usually 30-50% below the cost of purchasing new. But in addition to saving the client money, the broker has again helped reduce pressure on raw materials and helped divert used furniture from a landfill. Additionally, new furniture can also be extremely toxic and can leach harmful VOC’s (volatile organic compounds), formaldehyde and other toxic chemicals into the air. Used office furniture will have already off-gassed these fumes and will therefore not negatively affect the indoor air quality of the office.

There are of course many, many opportunities to align sound commercial leasing strategies with sustainable business practices, especially when the real estate process begins with mindful focus and awareness. Identifying the intersection of these goals is not only SMART, but GREEN.