San Francisco’s Chase Center Highlights Environmental Innovation

The Golden State Warriors' new state-of-the-art arena will host more than 200 sports and entertainment events every year. WSP USA led commissioning services for the project.

Located in San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighborhood, the Chase Center arena is ready to serve as the home of the Golden State Warriors, with environmental features that rival the on-court innovations of the three-time NBA champions themselves.

The venue began its rookie season with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Sept. 3 attended by California Gov. Gavin Newsom, San Francisco Mayor London Breed, and representatives of the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors had played their home games at Oakland Arena since 1971.

The Chase Center hosted its first event on Sept. 6, when the legendary rock band Metallica took the stage for a unique concert event that featured a performance with the San Francisco Symphony.

The 18,000-seat venue includes a 3.2-acre public plaza facing the waterfront, 580,000 square feet of office space in a building adjacent to the arena, and 100,000 square feet of retail space featuring a variety of restaurants, shops and other small businesses.

The road to this milestone began more than seven years ago when the Warriors, owners of the downtown arena, publicly announced plans to create a facility that would become “a beacon for the entire Bay Area community.”

WSP USA served as a key part of the team that helped make that vision a reality, providing commissioning work on the project for Kendall/Heaton Associates, the arena’s architect.

WSP is responsible for ensuring that the arena is compliant with California’s Title 24 building energy efficiency standard commissioning requirements. WSP is also assisting with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, and worked on the lighting control, domestic hot water, recycled water, submetering, irrigation and heating-ventilation-air conditioning (HVAC) systems to help the arena achieve and exceed the high standards set by Title 24.

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©2019 WSP USA

The 18,000-seat arena is the completion of the Golden State Warriors’ vision to have it serve as “a beacon for the entire Bay Area community.”

Conserving Resources

One of the building’s innovative features is its recycled water system. The building’s plumbing system is designed to harvest rainwater and recycled gray water for use in non-potable applications, such as irrigation and flushing of toilets. This system lowers the facility’s demand for treated water from the local utility.

“In California, there is a focus on water reduction and demand,” said Jesse Eisenhart, WSP project manager. “For a facility like the Chase Center, it’s a tremendous asset to have the ability to recycle water, rather than use potable water, whenever possible.”

The recycled water system will enable the arena to achieve a high level of water efficiency, conserving natural resources and reducing energy required for domestic service water heating.

The building features several sustainable features intended to far exceed code compliance. It incorporated efficient LED lighting fixtures throughout the interior of the Building, and meters were installed to monitor energy and water use. Light-colored material was used on the roof to reflect, rather than absorb, solar heat, reducing the building’s “heat island” effect.

The HVAC system features four large bowl air handlers with direct expansion and indirect and direct evaporative cooling. The Chase Center also employs a heat pump chiller and heat recovery loop to transfer heat efficiently dependent on thermal comfort demands. The system also features six condensing boilers, cooling towers, water source heat pumps, local variable refrigerant flow systems. The HVAC system and the building envelope was designed to exceed the “Thermal Environmental Conditions for Human Occupancy” requirements as outlined by ASHRAE Standard 55-2004.

“WSP facilitated communication and collaboration between the contractors, engineers, and facility staff who worked on these various systems to enable them to reach a higher level of quality than what would otherwise have been possible,” Eisenhart said.

The Chase Center includes a 950-space parking garage that will be primarily used by employees of the facility and VIP guests. Most visitors will use public transportation to arrive at the event.

To encourage alternative transportation use, the arena offers 300 spaces for valet bicycle parking, a service provided by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition that has been provided at many city events over the past 25 years.

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©2019 WSP USA

Most visitors will use mass transit, such as light rail and buses, to attend events at the Chase Center arena.

Teamwork Is Key

Eisenhart said the Chase Center project is a good example of how commissioning services can enhance the overall value of a project.

“We can see the importance of commissioning from many angles,” he said. “When we coordinate with the designers, the subcontractors, the owner’s team, and all of the parties involved, it gets everyone on the same page to work as a team and opens the lines of communication to deliver a superior product.”

Eisenhart and his team were fully aware of the responsibility and expectations that came with designing and building a new home for the team that won the 2015, 2017 and 2018 NBA championships.

“Understanding this expectation definitely drove us to provide a quality product,” Eisenhart said. “The big test, of course, will be once it is full of 20,000 people, and everything operates as intended. We want to be sure that the fans are focused on the action on the basketball court or the stage.”

Although he was not a basketball fan before moving to San Francisco five years ago, Eisenhart said he has since adopted the Warriors as his favorite team, and now has a personal connection that makes it even easier to root for Stephen Curry and company.

“This is a marquee project, and I’m proud to have had the opportunity to be a part of this team,” Eisenhart said. “It incorporates some very interesting and unique systems and coordination challenges that are inherited with a project of this magnitude. It can be a challenge to coordinate the number of systems and contractors teaming together, but once you get to the point where you can see the results of that collaboration, you feel really good about the quality of the final product, and how much better it is because of that cooperation.”

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