• Courtesy of Jason O'Rear

Mission Rock Central Plant Study + Concepts

San Francisco, CA

Business Type

Mixed-use residential and commercial neighborhood


3.5 million square feet: 28 acres of buildings with acreage and 8 acres dedicated to parks

PAE developed the design of the central heating and cooling plant which features heat recovery chillers as well as a district-scale Bay-source heat pump system that exchanges thermal energy with the San Francisco Bay in order to provide a high-efficiency, all-electric heating and cooling supply.

During the evaluation stage of central plant options, we utilized detailed system simulation modeling to predict energy performance and fed the results into a comprehensive 25-year Life-Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA). First costs, maintenance costs, and energy costs of each option were evaluated as part of the LCCA, and numerous central plants were developed and analyzed through simulation modeling tools.

We went on to lead the design development of the Block A Residential Tower with MVRDV architects and the Block F Residential Tower with Studio Gang architecture.


Progress Report

  • In addition to operating with zero onsite carbon emissions, the system will save 4 million gallons of water per year compared with a traditional water-cooled chiller system.

  • The central plant features a black water treatment system that recycles wastewater from the residential components of the development and utilizes it for toilet and urinal flushing as well as sub-surface irrigation.

Special features

  • Blackwater and district energy system includes central chilled water production, heating hot water production, and bay water exchange.

  • As compared with the code baseline approach, the proposed central plant is anticipated to achieve a 65% reduction in annual energy use, a 3.7-million-gallon reduction in annual cooling tower water use, and a 1,760 ton reduction in onsite carbon emissions.

  • San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s Article 12C Non-Potable Water Program required Mission Rock to install and operate a non-potable water system onsite to treat and reuse available graywater, rainwater, and foundation drainage for toilet and urinal flushing and irrigation.

Media Coverage

Archinect: MVRDV completes ‘The Canyon’ tower in San Francisco inspired by California’s geology


Facing Severe Droughts, Developers Seek to Reuse the Water They Have


Design Build


Mission Rock Neighborhood


Port of San Francisco