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ENERGY STAR Labeled Building Profile

Three Embarcadero Center
3 Embarcadero Center Mezzanine Level Engineering Office
San Francisco, CA 94111
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Three Embarcadero Center is owned and managed by Boston Properties.  Located in the financial district in San Francisco, the building, completed in 1977, includes a 32-story office tower atop three levels of retail shops and restaurants with approximately 721,000 square feet of Class A office space. There are three levels of retail and commercial space at the base of the tower, which comprise approximately 50,350 square feet of space. There are four levels of underground parking below the building consisting of 670 stalls in a space of 350,239 square feet. Vertical transportation is supplied by 13 passenger elevators, two mixed-use, and two garage shuttle elevators that have been modernized and are now energy-efficient, microprocessor-SCR controlled. A combination of elevators and escalators provide exterior vertical transportation among street, lobby, and the promenade levels. 


Energy management at Three Embarcadero Center begins with proper preventive maintenance and repair of the installed systems. Starting at this point in the early 1980's, the energy management team installed modulating control valves on the HVAC system connected with proportional pneumatic controllers. The building concept from back in the mid-1970's was to operate both heating and cooling during all occupied hours and let the multi-zone distribution and zone-level mixing box temper the air at the end user control, which meant there was no provision for controlling the central plant in the original build. Next, the team retrofitted lighting fixtures using optical reflectors and de-lamping strategies in combination with the installation of proportionally controlled valves on the HVAC equipment and automated start/ stop controls.


After completing retrofits of the installed systems, the team introduced an energy management control system (EMCS) and hybrid direct digital control (DDC) interfaces, as well as variable frequency drive (VFD) technologies and strategies to both the water and air sides of the existing HVAC systems to further enhance the building's comfort and their control of the large, energy-consuming systems.


Through the 1990's, occupancy sensors and timed and staged controllability of the lighting systems were added to enhance building performance. The team also completed lighting retrofits to T-8 lamp and electronic ballast technology and added more efficient optical reflectors to increase energy savings and improve the quality of lighting. Along the way, the building specification for lighting installations required the use of energy-efficient fixtures, sensors, and technologies as a standard for all tenant improvement work. The replacement of an older, less-efficient chiller with a new (non-CFC) variable speed drive chiller to more efficiently handle low load periods was done mid-decade. The evolution of building codes, such as Title 24 in California, was key to supporting these moves, as was the availability of state and utility rebate programs to incentivize and improve ROI calculations.


From 2000 to present, additional lighting retrofits using technologies such as T1 systems, LED, and cold cathode lamps were performed. Expanded use of occupancy sensors and sentry switching were explored and deployed where suitable to increase the OFF time during both peak and non-peak operating hours.


In 2004, the installation of 3M-NV25 solar reflective window film was performed on the elevations of the building affected by the sun to contain the heat gain that impacted the building's HVAC system and operation, reducing loads during those high solar days.


In 2007, the energy management team installed a new DDC BACnet compatible energy management front end and backbone infrastructure to begin phasing out the older EMCS system and technologies from pneumatic-DDC to direct DDC technology. This work is on-going and will transition over time (through the tenant improvement process as well as intentional owner capital projects) to a full DDC system.


In 2008, numerous improvements further enhanced the energy performance of the building, including the launch of additional de-lamping strategies, cold cathode lamps in retail common areas, as well as changes in the building's holiday lighting schemes and the installation of occupancy sensors in stairwells as well as on all parking garage light fixtures.


In 2009, a common area lighting retrofit removed the last of the T12 lamps and replaced them with T8 lamps and electronic ballasts for improved energy and environmental performance. 


In 2008-09, the team implemented policies for lighting efficiency to encourage staff to turn off lights after hours and to purchase low mercury fluorescent lamps when replacing lamps that have that option.

During 2010, we retrofitted several of the building air handlers from constant volume to variable volume by installing variable frequency drives (VFDs) and controls. We will continue to perform these retrofits as the economics and technologies allow moving forward.

Also, and in the near future, the team has and will be looking at projects such as: 1) a heating boiler replacement and the installation of modular heating boilers to replace the original boilers that have served the building since construction; 2) installation of VFDs on additional air handling units to take advantage of the new DDC system's capability as well as VAV strategies that occur during tenant improvement projects; and 3) continued lighting technology shifts from conventional lamps to emerging lamps, such as the LED offerings as they are appropriate.

We have adjusted our building specifications to require that all new toilets and urinals be high efficiency or ultra low flush technology and are replacing some of the older units throughout the building in 2011.

In 2012, we will begin a new project to convert the building's central plant operating systems over to our new DDC BACnet platform, and we are running new operating strategies now to enhance energy and building performance. We look forward to enhancements in both building performance and energy efficiency moving forward into 2013.

The building first earned the ENERGY STAR for superior energy performance in 2001-02 with a score of 75. By 2008, the score had risen to 88 and continued to improve. In 2009, the building earned the ENERGY STAR with a score of 89 and in 2010, with a score of 90.





Please note: Narrative information in this profile has been provided by Boston Properties or a representative of this facility. Other building information was verified and submitted to EPA at the time of application. Building energy performance, operating characteristics, and ownership/management may be subject to change over time.

Building Owner:*
Boston Properties

Property Manager:*

Year(s) Labeled (Rating):
2001 (80)
2003 (90)
2008 (87)
2009 (89)
2010 (90)
2011 (84)
2012 (83)
2013 (84)
2014 (86)
2015 (88)
2016 (94)
2017 (96)

Facility Type: Office

Total Floorspace: 776350 sf

Year Constructed: 1976

Contract Type: None
Financing Type: Internal Capital

Technologies Used:
   Stage 1-Recommissioning
   Stage 2-Lighting
   Stage 3-Load Reductions
   Stage 4-Fan Systems
   Stage 5-Heating and Cooling Plant
   Other Technologies/Strategies