New Facility at Southeast Treatment Plant Honored for Excellence in Sustainable Infrastructure

The SFPUC’s new Headworks Facility at the Southeast Treatment Plant has been named an Envision Gold recipient, a national award that celebrates sustainability excellence in civil infrastructure projects. 

The Headworks Facility is the first public infrastructure project in the City to receive such an honor, which is designated by the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure. To reach Gold status, a project must demonstrate that it delivers a heightened range of environmental, social, and economic benefits to the host and affected communities.

Projects like this will accelerate the SFPUC’s vision to transform San Francisco’s largest wastewater treatment plant into a state-of-the-art resource recovery facility.

The Southeast Treatment Plant, which treats 80 percent of San Francisco’s wastewater, which includes both sanitary sewage and stormwater runoff, is being upgraded and modernized as the centerpiece of the Sewer System Improvement Program, a 20-year citywide investment to upgrade the City’s aging sewer infrastructure to ensure a reliable, sustainable and seismically safe system for generations to come.

The first step in the wastewater treatment process occurs at the Headworks Facility, where debris (such as baby wipes) and grit (like sand) are removed from the wastewater stream. This process is critical to protect downstream equipment, help control odors and ensure that the treatment plan can operate efficiently.

A group of CityWorks interns view the Headworks demolition work currently taking place on a recent tour of the Southeast Treatment Plant. 

The new Headworks facility will replace and consolidate the two aging facilities. The improvements will increase the reliability and resiliency of the system, reduce operations and maintenance costs and reduce odor and noise impacts to the community, among other benefits. The new site will include a large integrated artwork by artist Norie Sato which draws inspiration from resource recovery processes and infrastructure at the southeast treatment plant. 

The ISI Envision system examines the impact of sustainable infrastructure projects as a whole, through five distinct categories: Quality of Life, Leadership, Resource Allocation, Natural World, and Climate and Resilience. These key areas contribute to the positive social, economic, and environmental impacts on a community. The SFPUC’s Headworks Facility met the standards of all five components of the award. 

The SFPUC is working in close collaboration with Carollo Engineers, Inc. (Design Engineer) and Sundt/-Walsh (Construction Manager/General Contractor) on the award-winning Headworks Facility project.

As demolition work of the old Headworks facility continues at the Southeast Treatment Plant, the new facility designed to take its place recently won the City’s first ever Envision Gold award.