China Basin – Achieving BREEAM Very Good rating on a waterfront Tech & Life Sciences Campus in San Francisco

China Basin achieved a “Very Good” rating in both Part 1 Asset Performance and Part 2 Management Performance, the first building in the San Francisco area to achieve this level of an In-Use rating.

ChinaBasinOct2021 566 BRE Group

BREEAM Very Good (58.4%) and BREEAM Very Good (58.9%)
Version: BREEAM In-use 2016 Parts 1 & 2
Developer/Client: JP Morgan Asset Management Inc
Assessor Organization: Facilities Commissioning Resources LLC
Assessor: Craig Allen
Consultant: Lord Green Strategies

About the Asset

China Basin is a 1,032,800 SF office, life science, and technology campus comprised of two structures, the six-story Wharfside Building and the five-story Berry Building.

The Wharfside building was constructed by Southern Pacific Railroad in 1922. The Berry Building was constructed in 1991 and two additional floors were added in 2008.

The two building campus is located on the waterfront at the mouth of Mission Bay and adjacent to Oracle Park in San Francisco, CA.

China Basin provides access to prime retail, entertainment, downtown living, and public transit.

The property team sought BREEAM certification due to its holistic view of sustainability and avenues of improvement that positively impact the ownership, management, and tenants of China Basin.

To learn more, please visit China Basin’s website here.

Overview of green strategy and environmental challenges

The strategy for this campus was to obtain accurate measurement of all building sustainability metrics with the goal of being one of the first buildings in the SF Bay Area to achieve certification.

The original 1922 Wharfside building, along with the Berry Building which contained more recent building additions and retrofits, presented a complex starting point when working towards a green building certification. The large amount of construction documentation, overall size of the building, and the intricacy of the building systems added to this complexity. In addition, the diversity of tenant uses from lab space, patient clinics to traditional office required a flexible system for measuring performance as different industries and space types utilize different benchmarks for performance measurement.

How has the BREEAM assessment benefited the project?

The BREEAM USA In-Use rating system offered a holistic framework for benchmarking our building’s sustainable performance. The process presented well defined avenues for future improvement that will help guide capital allocation in areas that also align with management and ownership goals.

Jane Echlin, General Manager – China Basin, McCarthy Cook.

Before BREEAM certification was pursued, a brand-new Building Management System (BMS) was installed to organize and improve the efficiency of the HVAC system. The BMS along with its HVAC components were catalogued and relevant data was input into the BREEAM online measurement tool.

The measurement tool was able to benchmark the building’s performance and verify the improvement in energy efficiency specifically. Additionally, an Environmental Management Plan was created, which identified target reductions in utility usage and waste generation by 2030.

As a result of the BREEAM framework, the property has a clear path to improve performance over time.

In addition to helping meet the goal of certification at their properties, the BREEAM assessment helped the property management team measure and report on sustainability practices and performance at the asset, including:

The property is located near several modes of public transportation including rail, light rail and several bus routes. China Basin’s location in a central and popular downtown area puts it in close proximity to housing, restaurants, and entertainment which contributes to higher walkability and an overall high transportation score.

China Basin scored high in the water category due to the use of low flush, low flow plumbing fixtures such as 0.125 GPF urinals with infra-red sensors and handwashing sinks with 0.5 GPM aerators with automatic sensors. Along with cataloguing current performance, targets were set for reducing water usage by 2030 and policies were put in place to begin making steps toward these goals.

The building scored well in the Waste category earning all points available.  An extensive recycling program is in place including full time trash sorters who ensure all recyclable waste is sorted to its appropriate waste stream.

The building’s energy efficiency played an important role in achieving a Very Good rating.  China Basin has implemented a new Building Management System to improve the efficiency and accurate measurement of HVAC use. This coupled with the use of occupancy sensors for lighting and the capitalization of natural light to reduce lighting demand has contributed to the improved energy score.

What value does certification bring to the development?

The flexibility of the BREEAM rating system was critical in achieving certification on such a complex building with multiple additions from different decades, unique space types, and complex building systems.

Alex Herold, Director of Green Building Certifications, LORD Green Strategies

The BREEAM certification was a good fit for this property due to the flexibility of the methodology to account for multiple unique space types within the building.

The structure of the BREEAM scoring system also provided clear avenues for future improvement projects that will increase the overall sustainability of the building and ultimately improve the rating.

Additionally, the certification guided the project team to formalize many policies and procedures such as an Environmental Management Policy and a Volatile Organic Compounds Policy that will help the property operate more sustainably on a day-to-day basis.


BREEAM is the world’s leading sustainability assessment methodology for masterplanning projects, infrastructure and buildings. It recognizes and reflects the value in higher performing assets across the built environment lifecycle, from new construction, through performance in operation, to refurbishment. BREEAM does this through third party certification of the assessment of an asset’s environmental, social and economic sustainability performance, using standards developed by BRE. This means BREEAM rated developments are more sustainable environments that enhance the well-being of the people who live and work in them, help protect natural resources and make for more attractive property investments. Learn more at

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