181 Fremont & The Art of Sustainable Buildings

September 16, 2019

When it comes to sustainable buildings, developer Jay Paul Company and architects Heller Manus are at the top of their game. Leaders in terms of sustainability in their respective fields, their partnership in the conception of 181 Fremont was a natural collaboration. It was no surprise, then, that they were given global awards for Best Structural Engineering and Best Geotechnical Engineering by the international Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) earlier this year. The program rewards those who have contributed to tall building and urban environment innovation whilst achieving the highest levels of sustainability.

181 Fremont is one of San Francisco’s most recent skyline landmarks. At over 800 feet tall it is already a distinctive focal point in the city’s South of Market District. Comprising a mixture of office space and exclusive residences, the tower is the tallest mixed-use structure west of the Mississippi. Located right next to the Transbay Transit Center, it is perfectly placed for easy access to the transportation hub. 

All around the globe, more and more people are beginning to focus on how to make buildings more sustainable. Many consider 181 Fremont to be one of the best examples of innovation and remarkability. Designed with sustainability in mind, Jay Paul Company teamed up with Urban Fabrick to ensure this goal was realized. Urban Fabrick, sustainability consultants who assisted in the development of the San Francisco Green Building Code, helped to take 181 Fremont beyond the already ambitious standards required for LEED Platinum status. The first of its kind, 181 Fremont is pre-certified as San Francisco’s first LEED Platinum luxury tower.

181 Fremont has a bike barn with more than 200 stalls and also features a private bridge leading directly to the 5.4 acre City Park, an elevated recreational area that is as popular and often more highly praised than the High Line in New York. The park contains an open-air amphitheater, public gardens, eateries, and children’s areas and is totally green and sustainable. Many of the materials used for 181 Fremont were regionally sourced, drastically reducing the carbon footprint for the initial construction. Materials from further afield, such as the Paldao wood from New Guinea which encases the residence entryway doors, also have sustainable roots. 

The structure was designed to incorporate a unique curtain wall system which increases the amount of daylight admitted and decreases artificial light needs. Its saw-tooth arrangement works to angle the glass in such a way that it is aimed at the afternoon sunlight. This reduces cooling demands by more than 6%. The building’s lighting is designed to also reduce urban sky glow.

One of the most impressive features of this sustainable construction, however, is its water system. The system saves 1.3 million gallons of potable water per year by capturing, treating, and reusing both graywater and rainwater for toilet flushing and irrigation. The basement contains an Aquacell G20 Treatment System. Using membrane bioreactor technology, this self-contained system treats graywater captured from showers, bathroom sinks, and laundry. A PHOENIX Rainwater Treatment System is in place to treat rainwater captured on the roof. The rainwater is then combined with treated graywater for the final disinfection phase. This provides up to 5,000 gallons of recycled non-potable water per day. 

All in all, 181 Fremont stands as an impressive beacon to sustainability on the San Francisco skyline. By going above and beyond the standards required for LEED Platinum status, this stunning yet sustainable building has set the bar very high indeed for future developers.