Page N1.3. 12 March 2008                     
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    Livable Buildings Awards


    "From an engineering and building science perspective, this is a fascinating project," said one juror.

    Another juror commented, "The building couples passive systems of environmental control to a laboratory building program... with strong massing, a clear spatial layout, and an attention to detail, creating a building that makes the expression of a sustainable ethic clear, but not overwhelming."

    Green features less directly related to the occupant experience include careful materials choices and water conservation. Redwood salvaged from old wine vats forms the exterior siding. Doors, trim, and other interior wood is domestic ash certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Water-saving bathroom fixtures and native landscaping save an estimated 20,000 gallons (76,000 liters) of water per year.

    Teaching Tool

    Just a few miles southeast of Stanford stands the Kirsch Center for Environmental Studies. Since it opened at De Anza College in 2005, the center has housed the community college's environmental studies and energy management programs, as well as serving as a general classroom facility. Open circulation areas serve as popular gathering spots.

    Van der Ryn Architects (now EcoDesign Collaborative) designed the two-story, 22,000-square-foot (2,000-square-meter) building, with VBN Architects as executive architect.

    User ratings of the Kirsch Center are almost off the charts. Of buildings in the CBE survey database, it ranks in the 100th percentile for general building satisfaction, as well as in the areas of thermal comfort, air quality, lighting, and, notably, acoustic quality a weak point for many buildings in the database.

    It received its lowest score 85th percentile in cleanliness and maintenance, an area less directly related to the architectural design.

    "The Kirsch Center has so many ratings in the top 100 percentile. Does it get better than this?" wondered one juror. "And it has acoustical, comfort, and air quality scores just not heard of in almost any buildings."

    Like the other two award-winning buildings, the Kirsch Center was conceived as a demonstration building for sustainable design. The four exterior elevations respond to solar paths, optimizing daylighting while managing the building's thermal balance. In addition to daylighting and mixed-mode ventilation, the building includes such green features as radiant floor heating, a rooftop photovoltaic array, and high-recycled-content steel.

    The design committee also worked to develop the building as a teaching tool about resource-efficiency and stewardship.

    "When people see and experience those elevations from both the inside and outside, they say, 'Wow! I get it,'" reports Dave Deppen, the design architect. "What were abstractions before become body experiences to people using and learning from the building."

    Throughout the building, various structural and utility systems are exposed to view for students. Transparent panels reveal the manifolds of the radiant floor, and windows reveal the interiors of utility rooms. A real-time display shows the power generated by the photovoltaic panels.

    An "informed occupancy" system engages students and other building occupants in management of the building's ventilation. At every operable window, a light communicates the suggested window position: green for open, red for closed.

    Students played several important roles in bringing the Kirsch Center to fruition. In support of an idea initiated by a group of faculty, staff, and students, the student government voted to spend $180,000 to hire a design team for conceptual studies. Students participated in workshops for developing the program and design, and students also help with building operation.

    The Kirsch Center's total regulated energy costs are 88 percent lower than a typical building's (per ASHRAE 90.1-99), and well below California's Title 24 energy standards. A LEED Platinum rating is being sought for the center; certification is currently under review.

    More on the Awards

    Two buildings received honorable mentions in the 2007 Livable Buildings Awards:

    Donald Bren Hall, University of California, Santa Barbara, designed by Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects .

    The William & Flora Hewlett Foundation Building in Menlo Park, California, designed by B.H. Bocook Architect, Inc.

    The other five finalist buildings were: Blakely Hall in Issaquah, Washington; the Chicago Center for Green Technology in Chicago, Illinois; the Department of the Interior National Business Center in Denver, Colorado; McCuen Center One in Sacramento, California; and Swinerton Headquarters in San Francisco, California.

    The 2007 Livable Buildings Awards were announced on October 18, 2007. CBE selected ten finalist buildings from among those that used the CBE survey before January 1, 2007.

    The jury comprised Timothy Irvin, LEED AP, Johnson Controls, Inc.; Kevin Kelly, AIA, U.S. General Services Administration; Blair McCarry, P.E., LEED AP, Stantec; Nicholas Rajkovich, LEED AP, Pacific Gas & Electric Company; Benedict Tranel, AIA, LEED AP, Gensler; Phillip Williams, P.E., Webcor; Paul Woolford, AIA, LEED AP, HOK.

    The Center for the Built Environment at UC Berkeley is a collaborative research center that brings together university researchers with industry partners, including manufacturers, owners, contractors, architects, engineers, utilities, and government agencies.   >>>


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    ArchWeek Image

    The Global Ecology Research Center, by EHDD Architecture, received a 2007 Livable Buildings Award.
    Photo: Bodo Littmann Extra Large Image

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    Light-colored interior surfaces increase the effectiveness of daylighting strategies at the Global Ecology Center, located at Stanford University.
    Photo: Peter Aaron/ Esto

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    Site plan drawing of the Global Ecology Center, home of the Carnegie Institution of Washington's Department of Global Ecology.
    Image: EHDD Extra Large Image

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    Global Ecology Center first- and second-floor plan drawings.
    Image: EHDD Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    Section diagram of the night sky radiant cooling system.
    Image: EHDD

    ArchWeek Image

    Section drawing through the Global Ecology Center.
    Image: EHDD Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    Diagram of the Global Ecology Center lobby and katabatic cooling tower.
    Image: EHDD Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    The Kirsch Center for Environmental Studies, designed by Van der Ryn Architects with VBN Architects, received a Livable Buildings Award for 2007.
    Photo: Don Aitken Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    Located at De Anza College in Cupertino, California, the Kirsch Center was designed to teach students about resource issues and stewardship.
    Photo: John Linden Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    Spaces surrounding the Kirsch Center are intended as outdoor classrooms and labs.
    Photo: Cody Anderssen


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