David Brower Center Berkeley | Light footprint on the earth

This post was written by Andrea Paoletti

This week I was given a special tour of downtown Berkeley’s David Brower Center. It is a powerful model of sustainable, mixed-use development. An inspiring home for environmental and social action, combining both offices and program facilities in a 50,000 square-foot space. I was really interested to visit the building and know more technical details because it has received a LEED Platinum rating, the highest possible rating from the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.  Designed by San Francisco-based WRT Design in collaboration with Loisos and UbbelohdeTipping Mar + associates for structural engineering, and Equity Community Builders as the developer, the architectural process focused on sustainability, from methods to materials. The resulting structure, designed to be 40 percent more energy-efficient than conventional ones, includes:

– Construction using 53% recycled materials;

– Photovoltaic panels which double as a sun shade device;

– 100% daylighting of all office areas;

– Collection and reuse of rainwater for irrigation and toilet flushing;

– Extremely low energy mechanical systems using radiant heating and cooling within the building’s concrete structural slabs;

– Solar shading devices on all south-facing windows;

– High efficiency lighting with automatic controls to limit use when adequate daylight is available;

– Concrete with slag to significantly reduce CO2 and cement content, and to increase strength;

– Vertically post-tensioned structure to minimize potential damage due to earthquakes;

– Operable windows and low pressure ventilation via the raised floor system to maximize indoor air quality;

– Co2 sensors that call for extra fresh air if required; and

– Exterior and interior materials that ensure healthy air quality, maximize recycled content, avoid off-gassing, and minimize environmental impacts from production and transportation.

Moreover  the center’s soaring concrete walls include up to 70 percent slag, that was hailed for its fortifying properties and its ability to help concrete bear weight. The presence of slag in construction also significantly reduced CO2 and cement content. To encourage building occupants to choose a low-carbon route to work, the building is located within walking distance of the Downtown Berkeley BART station and AC Transit bus stops, and offers onsite bike parking and showers for pedal-powered commuters.

In the ground floor visitors and users can find a fascinating feature to monitor the building’s current energy consumption : the Interactive Building Dashboard.

I liked the thing that The Brower Center was designed to foster collaborations between like-minded organizations and individuals, engage new people in advocacy and facilitate cross-sector communication and partnerships: a complete shift of mind. And that’s the reason because The Hub Berkeley is placed in there.

 Energy diagram

all pictures are © tim griffith

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