Page N1.2 . 12 March 2008                     
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    Livable Buildings Awards


    The top-awarded buildings share a programmatic focus: they all house environmentally focused programs, whether academic or nonprofit, and were designed to serve as embodiments of an environmental ethic and as examples of sustainable design. Even taking into account that energy performance and resource efficiency were explicitly part of the award-selection criteria, the commonality of program among the 2007 honorees points to the fact that increased sustainability and high-quality indoor environments often go hand in hand.

    Bayfront Foundation

    The Philip Merrill Environmental Center, home of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, was the first building certified LEED Platinum by the U.S. Green Building Council, and was featured in ArchitectureWeek in 2001, shortly after the building opened.

    Designed by SmithGroup, the center exemplifies many elements shared by all three winning buildings: extensive daylighting, mixed-mode ventilation, and the use of open-plan offices to facilitate those two processes.

    "The Philip Merrill Environmental Center synergistically wove an environmental approach into its design," lauded one Livable Building Awards juror. "It embodies an approach that addressed its region, and is an example of design excellence."

    In the CBE Occupant IEQ Survey conducted in November 2004, users reported high levels of satisfaction with the Merrill Center. Ninety-seven percent of occupants surveyed reported being satisfied in the general building satisfaction category, putting the center in the 99th percentile of buildings surveyed prior to 2007. In the areas of air quality and lighting, the building ranks in the 99th and 90th percentiles, respectively, with 87 percent and 81 percent of respondents satisfied.

    Only 41 percent of occupants surveyed reported satisfaction with the building's acoustic quality. The fact that such a low satisfaction rate could put the Merrill Center in the 68th percentile for that category speaks to the weakness of many buildings in that area.

    The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) monitored the energy and water performance of the Merrill Center from 2001 to 2002. Its annual energy usage at the time 39,900 British thermal units per square foot per year (453 megajoules per square meter per year) was 59 percent lower than a typical office building, based on Energy Information Administration data from 1995.

    The center's total water consumption was measured at 1.25 gallons per square foot per year (50.9 liters per square meter per year) about ten percent of a typical office building's, based on BOCA Building Code. Of the water used, about 73 percent is collected rainwater, with the remainder coming from a well on site.

    One juror commented, "The building has been widely published as an example of sustainable design, and appears to live up to its reputation with the results of the survey and the measured energy use intensity."

    Ecological Research

    The Global Ecology Research Center is a laboratory and office building at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. Designed by EHDD Architecture, the two-story, 11,000-square-foot (1,000-square-meter) building houses the Carnegie Institution of Washington's Department of Global Ecology. The building opened in 2004, joining an existing complex, with a newly defined courtyard connecting old and new.

    The center was named one of the Top Ten Green Projects for 2007 by the AIA Committee on the Environment.

    The building's optimized orientation, narrow building depth (40 feet, or 12 meters), and exterior solar shading ensure that diffuse, balanced daylight reaches the open-plan workstations. Laboratory areas are mechanically cooled and ventilated, while non-lab areas are naturally ventilated.

    Located on the courtyard end of the building, the lobby opens to the outside through large bi-fold doors. The building's signature tower employs katabatic air movement to cool the lobby space. Warm air from above enters the tower, where it is cooled with water from a spray ring. Gravity then draws the cooler, denser air down into the lobby.

    Two other special mechanical systems also assist in providing low-energy ventilation and cooling.

    The "night sky" radiant cooling system sprays the roof with a thin film of water, which cools overnight. The cool water is stored and then supplied during the day. The system uses 50 percent less water and 90 percent less energy than a conventional, water-cooled chiller.

    A radiant slab cooling system pumps cool water through pipes in the building, saving 70 percent of fan energy by reserving fan use for ventilation only.

    For general building satisfaction, the Global Ecology Research Center ranks in the 99th percentile among all buildings surveyed before 2007 using CBE's Occupant IEQ Survey. The building also received very high scores for thermal comfort (98th percentile, with 83 percent of respondents satisfied) and air quality (99 percentile, with 100 percent of respondents satisfied).

    In the core survey categories, the center received its lowest marks for lighting, with 74 percent of occupants reporting satisfaction in this area (66th percentile).   >>>

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    ArchWeek Image

    The Philip Merrill Environmental Center, home of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, stands on the Chesapeake Bay shoreline near Annapolis, Maryland.
    Photo: Prakash Patel Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    Materials used in the Merrill Center include salvaged wood from pickle barrels, sustainably harvested timber, renewable bamboo and cork, and steel with high recycled content.
    Photo: Prakash Patel Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    Philip Merrill Environmental Center site plan drawing.
    Image: SmithGroup Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    Ground-floor plan drawing of the Merrill Center.
    Image: SmithGroup Extra Large Image

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    Section drawing through the Merrill Center.
    Image: SmithGroup Extra Large Image

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    Sectional perspective drawing through the Merrill Center.
    Image: SmithGroup Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    In a CBE-designed survey of indoor environmental quality, 97 percent of occupants reported high general satisfaction with the Merrill Center.
    Photo: Prakash Patel Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    At the Merrill Center, open-plan office spaces facilitate daylighting, ventilation, and bay views. Lighting and air quality were ranked highly by occupants.
    Photo: Prakash Patel Extra Large Image


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