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SFPUC plan for green building held up by cost

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Lofty city plans to construct an ultra-green windmill-studded, solar-panel-embedded, water-recycling office building near City Hall have been thwarted by growing costs.

Work on the 12-story San Francisco Public Utilities building was slated to begin this year but SFPUC General Manager Ed Harrington announced Tuesday the project will be placed "on hold" because of rising costs.

Moving forward with the project while the SFPUC is spending billions of dollars on seismic improvements might have been unpopular with the agency’s water and electricity customers, who would have borne the construction costs, Harrington said.

The price of planned environmental features in the new building has risen, while detailed analysis has found the benefits of those features would have been lower than originally expected, according to SFPUC spokesman Tony Winnicker.

The solar panels planned for the skin of the building would have added more weight and cost than expected, while shadows would have reduced their effectiveness, according to Winnicker.

jupton@sfexaminer.com