40-year old precast augments Transamerica Pyramid’s LEED Platinum ascent

Sources: CP staff; Transamerica Pyramid Properties LLC and BuildingWise LLC, San Francisco; U.S. Green Building Council, Washington, D.C.

By Don Marsh

Exposed, white quartz-aggregate cladding was cited with a “cool roof” effect as Transamerica Pyramid owners pursued (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design-Existing Building) LEED-EB Platinum certification for their San Francisco landmark. Completed in 1972, the 853-ft. tower is enclosed with 3,920 precast pieces totaling 360,000 sq. ft. of surface.

In an energy audit aimed at upgrading the building’s 2009 LEED-EB Gold certification, consultant BuildingWise observed a 62 SRI (solar reflective index) rating for the architectural precast. It credited the bright concrete with reducing the facility’s cooling loads and contribution to urban heat island effect. The audit saw a 2009 Energy Star rating of 77 rise to 98, placing the Pyramid in the top tier of energy-efficient buildings measured against the Environmental Protection Agency program criteria.

BuildingWise staff joined owner and management representatives, plus local dignitaries, late last month to announce the upgraded certification. Like other U.S. Green Building Council facility categories, Platinum is the highest level in LEED-EB, which sets on-going measurement of operations, improvements and maintenance to maximize operational efficiency and minimize environmental impact.

As one of the world’s top architectural precast concrete applications, the Pyramid is the centerpiece of “The Seven Wonders of Precast, 1954 to 2004,” a commemorative poster marking the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute’s 50th anniversary. Producer Western Art Stone fabricated the tower’s architectural precast at a plant about 10 miles outside San Francisco—well within the 500-mile radius that would become one of the building material/product origination yardsticks for initial LEED ratings.