It’s Easy Being Green: LS&Co. Breaks Ground With The Commonwealth Club

Levi Strauss & Co.
June 12, 2014

Let the green construction begin.

Yesterday, Levi Strauss & Co. celebrated the next chapter of another storied and pioneering San Francisco organization. The Commonwealth Club of California hosted a groundbreaking ceremony yesterday afternoon to mark the beginning of the green retrofit of the club’s soon-to-be headquarters.

Not unlike LS&Co., The Commonwealth Club of California is a San Francisco mainstay. Started all the way back in 1903—just one year after the death of Levi Strauss—the club is dedicated to advancing nonpartisan dialogue in the community and facilitating an exchange of ideas. Founder Edward F. Adams wasn’t afraid to take on a challenge, and proclaimed of the group’s mission, “We only propose to find the truth and set it loose in the world.” An admirable objective, if we may say so ourselves. So it’s no surprise that Sigmund Stern, nephew of Levi Strauss and third President of the company (following his uncle and brother Jacob), was an early member of the Commonwealth Club.

A mural of the organization's motto on the untouched wall of the new Commonwealth Club building.

A mural of the organization’s motto on the untouched wall of the new Commonwealth Club building.

For the past century, the organization has served members and hosted countless readings, panels, discussions, and events in various rented spaces throughout San Francisco. When a historic building at 110 The Embarcadero went up for sale, the club’s leadership jumped at the chance to finally have an official headquarters in an ideal location. (Hello, sweeping Bay views!) At the time of purchase, the structure was essentially a shell, and The Commonwealth Club committed to a slew of sustainable renovations, making certain that their new space will achieve LEED Gold certification.

How, you ask? Architects and engineers will preserve the building’s historic façade in the redesign. Reclaimed wooden wall paneling from the original structure will be utilized throughout, and a public rooftop garden will grow native flora. The building’s systems will include LED light fixtures, Energy Star rated appliances, and an innovative ventilation system that will use Bay air for cooling. And of course, the entire structure will be insulated with denim insulation, made from recycled jean fibers and extending the life of our beloved blue jeans. The insulation was made possible by LS&Co.’s Denim Insulation Fund, which provides establishments with grants to offset the costs associated with using denim insulation versus less environmentally-friendly alternatives. For the promise of a greener tomorrow, it’s money well spent.

110 The Embarcadero will harbor a whopping 7,800 pairs of jeans within its walls. That’s 7,800 pairs of jeans that won’t wind up in a landfill. Beyond delivering maximum thermal benefits, and reducing the amount of energy used to heat and cool the building, denim insulation also has a high percentage of recycled content.

“As an organization with deep historical roots in San Francisco, we are delighted to accept a contribution of Levi’s denim insulation for our new home,” said The Commonwealth Club of California’s CEO and President, Dr. Gloria C. Duffy. “Use of the recycled denim represents our mutual commitment to environmental sustainability, and it will be a point of pride that our walls will be rich in the fabric of San Francisco history.” That’s quite the cause for celebration!