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Inside Salesforce Tower’s Water Recycling System

Editor’s Note: AI Cloud, Einstein GPT, and other cloud GPT products are now Einstein. For the latest on Salesforce Einstein, go here.

At Salesforce, our real estate is much more than just a place to work, and it’s more than just architecture and design. It’s about creating a space that provides a lasting positive impact for all of our key stakeholders, which include our employees and the environment. 

When we built our headquarters in San Francisco in 2018, we went all in on sustainability — and that included an innovative approach to water conservation. 

The largest on-site water recycling system in a commercial high rise

Amid ongoing droughts across the western United States, Salesforce is working to offset the tower’s environmental impact with a blackwater system in the building’s basement. Named for its treatment of all wastewater, the blackwater system is an innovative, first-of-its-kind green technology in a commercial building. While the system was operational during the pandemic, it is now able to operate at full capacity with many employees returning to Salesforce Tower. 

In collaboration with the City of San Francisco and Boston Properties, it is also the first U.S.-based partnership between a city government, a building owner, and a tenant to support blackwater reuse in a commercial high-rise building. 

The system collects wastewater from sources such as rooftop rainwater, cooling towers, showers, sinks, toilets, and urinals; treats the water through a six-step process in a centralized treatment center; and recirculates it through a separate pipe system to serve non-potable uses in the building, such as toilets and drip irrigation.

Fast facts: Salesforce Tower’s blackwater system

  • It recycles an estimated 30,000 gallons of water per work day. This is equivalent to offsetting the total daily water usage of about 300 people per day.
  • It saves an estimated 7.8 million gallons of drinking water per year.
  • The annual water saved is equivalent to the annual water consumption of 16,000 San Francisco residents.
  • It takes up the space of 10 parking spots.
  • It is the first of its kind in San Francisco. Other systems include those in Park Habitat (San Jose, Calif.), Facebook Headquarters (Menlo Park, Calif.), and Domino Sugar Refinery (Brooklyn, New York).

Public officials tour the innovative water recycling system

After touring the water treatment facility at Salesforce Tower today, officials from the Environmental Protection Agency and San Francisco Public Utilities Commission shared comments on the project. 

  • “The water reuse project at Salesforce Tower shows how infrastructure innovation, corporate leadership, and policy come together to benefit local communities,” said Radhika Fox, Environmental Protection Agency Assistant Administrator for Water. “This project is a great example of how public-private partnerships can maximize limited water resources in climate-stressed regions.” 
  • General Manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission Dennis Herrera commented, “The water recycling system at Salesforce Tower is a pioneering example of what the future looks like for our state. The climate is changing, and drought resilience is essential. San Franciscans know that innovation starts at the local level. We’re pioneering new water reuse and management approaches that save water and showcase success for state and federal lawmakers.”

An integrated approach to sustainable buildings

Our march toward sustainable workspaces expands far beyond water recycling. 

We embed sustainability into all of our operational decisions to further avoid and reduce absolute emissions across our value chain. 

Specifically, we focus on the materials within our buildings as well as air quality. For materials to be used in our buildings, they first must be scored using our Healthy and Sustainable Materials Scoring Tool, which holistically evaluates products across six categories: health, carbon, circularity, water, waste, and social attributes. As part of this program, we’ve been measuring indoor air quality through professional testing and continuous monitoring for quite some time. 

As we continue to grow as a company, Salesforce is committed to building a more sustainable future for all. We are proud to help lead the way when it comes to commercial real estate water recycling and offer a blueprint for how other companies can harness sustainable innovation to make a positive impact in the world.

Learn more about Salesforce’s commitment to sustainability here and read more sustainability news and stories here

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