A LEED World Record: An office space in Oakland, CA takes top honors for commercial interiors

Frank Bergamaschi | September 19th, 2012

Luminaries and politicos gathered recently to celebrate the Oakland opening of the world’s highest rated LEED certified commercial interior. Garnering a whopping 102 out of 110 possible points, the rating easily surpassed the LEED Platinum requirement of 80 points. The event was graced by the attendance of both U.S. Green Building Council president Rick Fedrizzi and Oakland mayor Jean Quan.

And not only did the project boast a phenomenal LEED rating, it achieved the honor at the modest budget of only $25 per square foot, less than half of what such improvements might normally cost.

To better understand the project and the it’s sustainability aspects, I interviewed it’s primary sustainability consultant, Barry Giles, founder of Building Wise, a 5-year-old, 14-person consulting firm located ins San Francisco and specializing in sustainability issues. Following are excerpts.


Please describe the services Building Wise offers?
We offer consulting services to help developers and building owners achieve maximum operational efficiency.

What is the location and occupancy of the Oakland project?
The project is an office occupancy located at 427 13th Street in downtown Oakland.

How large is the project?
It occupies 2 floors, with approximately 16,000 square feet total.

What are some of the sustainable aspects of the project?
They hit it hard on energy (with) very high- efficiency boilers, night purging, motion sensors that shut off everything in a cubicle except the PC, individual desk fans,(excellent) lighting (and) mechanical controls, daylighting, cubicle-by-cubicle submetering. We expect it to use 43% less energy than a typical office building, measured against (California) Title-24 (part 6, energy code).

How about on the water side?
They’ve done very well with water. Internally they are down to the lowest faucet aerators you can get (rated at) 0.15 GPM, waterless urinals, ultra low flush toilets, separate (higher flow) faucets for kettle filling, that sort of thing. (We’ve) gotten down to the barest minimum water we can use without making radical changes to the way we…operate.

These sound like things you’d do on any LEED certification, but the certification rating is extraordinary. Why?
The client was incredibly committed to the project. Everything (was) on the table…(And) everyone connected with the project is incredibly proud.

To what do you attribute the extraordinarily low construction costs on the project?
Reuse of a lot of the original equipment. They retained all the carpet… and cubicles (in areas)… (and) while $25/SF is incredibly low, it reflects the enthusiasm of everyone (involved in the project).

Is there anything else you would like to mention?
Yes… (we need to recognize that) people work their little cotton socks off (to do this type of work) in areas that don’t have the big name, Oakland being a prime example… and if people can create this type of space in Oakland, they can do it… anywhere.


Barry Giles is the founder of Building Wise LLC and instructor in the Bay Area Sustainable Building Advisor Program. Author Frank Bergamaschi is a Licensed Architect in the Bay Area, LEED AP and Certified Sustainable Building Advisor (CSBA) from the Bay Area SBA Program. 

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