San Francisco Recycled Water Program Is Performative Environmentalism

The Salesforce Tower is an extraordinary building in San Francisco, but not just because of its size and remarkable shape. Before erecting the nearly 1,000-foot tower, the building's owners, Boston Properties, worked with Salesforce and city officials to develop a plan to retrofit a gray water system in an adjacent building while also building an on-site recycled water system to treat “black” water. Black water contains human waste, while gray water usually consists of drains from sinks, bathrooms, laundromats and kitchens.

In total, Salesforce's on-site system recycles approximately 7.8 million gallons of water per year, which the company says is equivalent to the same amount of water that 16,000 residents would use in a year.

“There is ongoing drought in the state of California and in and around the Bay Area,” said Amanda von Almen, Head of Emissions Reduction at Salesforce. “We really wanted to make sure that when we looked at the sustainability of the building, we thought about it locally. “What are the local problems? What environmental factors need to be taken into account? It became clear that we had to do something about water and we really showed leadership here.”

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