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Meet the Father of Green Building

Bisnow just got a tour of the new Exploratorium on the Embarcadero with Point Energy Innovations CEO Peter Rumsey, the mechanical engineer behind the long-awaited project—the world's first net zero museum.

When Peter first got on board with the Exploratorium project, the site was a decrepit bus repair facility. A large share of the budget (30% to 40%) was spent on drilling 100-foot-long concrete piers. Peter tells us he pushed extremely hard to allocate even more of the budget to make it the first net zero energy museum in the US.

Peter explains how the original museum sparked his love for engineering and science when he was a kid, fondly recalling his mom having to drag him out of the building. The search for a new Exploratorium space took 10 years, and he was on board for the latter half. He calls this site the most stunning and logical, adding that being close to Pier 39 helps attract lots of tourist traffic.

The Exploratorium is lit up through windows with a refracting material and exhibits turn off automatically to save energy. The engineering geek in Peter wishes this heating and cooling system, which takes in water from the Bay to heat and cool the building, was labeled as its own exhibit.

Peter hopes the green museum will set the stage for others to follow suit, though none are in the works yet. The nonprofit world is known for being the first to do these types of buildings (he also designed the David and Lucile Packard Foundation in Los Altos, crowned the largest net zero building the world). Here's a West Coast slideshow of net zero projects, many of which he worked on. 

Peter founded Rumsey Engineers in 1998, which was acquired by Integral Group in 2009. He realized a smaller-scale operation where he could dedicate more time and attention to clients was the way to go, so he broke off in 2012 to start Point Energy Innovations. He's gearing up to move his office from Oakland to S.F. (220 Montgomery), where the bulk of his clients are.

His resume spans the Bay Area and beyond, and Bisnow just profiled one of his designs: 1400 Page Mill Road, aka the most sustainable development to hit Silicon Valley yet. His designs include the first certified Net Zero project, the world's first LEED Platinum pre-certified data center, the first Net Zero laboratory, the first radiant cooled building in India for Infosys, and the high-profile greening of The Empire State Building. Other miscellaneous projects he's working on: a heated and cooled chair design and a book on sustainable design. To save time when he's traveling around the Bay, he often works in an Uber.