Tesla Water Treatment Plant Achieves LEED Silver Certification

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s first and California’s largest ultraviolet (UV) water disinfection facility, the Tesla Treatment Facility, has earned its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

The U.S. Green Building Council notification letter acknowledges Tesla as “a pioneering example of sustainable design” which is leading the way to positive, lasting change in the building industry. Completed in July 2011, the facility earned 37 points on the LEED for New Construction rating system, thereby achieving silver certification.  Sustainability initiatives at the Tesla facility include water efficient landscaping and plumbing fixtures, xeriscape landscaping, thermal protection and shading, and a selection of eco-friendly building materials.   Since then, a 132-panel rooftop solar array has been added which could enable the facility to achieve LEED gold certification in the future.

“This LEED recognition for the Tesla facility adds another green component to the Hetch Hetchy Water and Power System, a sustainable system that delivers great water by gravity to 7% of California’s population,” said SFPUC General Manager Ed Harrington. “This project is a model for the continued development of sustainable water infrastructure.”

The San Francisco Bay Area receives naturally pristine Hetch Hetchy water that comes from Sierra Nevada snowmelt.  Because the SFPUC’s Hetch Hetchy water source is so clean and protected due to stringent disinfection treatment practices, extensive monitoring, and high operational standards, the California Department of Public Health and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have granted a filtration exemption for the Hetch Hetchy water source, which means the SFPUC is not required to filter that water.

Unlike filtration plants, the Tesla facility allows water to continue flowing from Hetchy to San Francisco using gravity and receive the same level of treatment as a traditional energy intensive treatment facility. The new state-of-the-art facility includes a 20,000 square foot building and specialized equipment that uses a series of UV light arrays to disinfect up to 315 million gallons of water per day from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. This UV disinfection provides an additional barrier for the Hetch Hetchy water supply to comply with the EPA’s new regulation requiring a second disinfectant for all unfiltered drinking water systems now in effect.

The Construction Management Association of America, Northern California Chapter, has recognized the Tesla facility as one of its “Projects of the Year.” The facility is one of 81 WSIP projects to repair, replace, and seismically retrofit aging infrastructure and other facilities within the Hetch Hetchy Regional Water System. More information can be found at www.sfwater.org/wsip.

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