New building construction can be resource intensive, during the initial building phase as well as daily operations throughout the life of the structure, therefore increasing levels of sustainability was the basic objective when the U.S. Green Building Council created the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standard in 2000.
The LEED Certification process provides independent, third-party verification that a building, home or entire community was designed and built using strategies aimed at achieving high performance in various key areas of human and environmental health: Sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.
The David Brower Center was the first new building in Berkeley, CA to achieve LEED Platinum Certification. Designed by San Francisco-based WRT Design, it was named after the prominent environmentalist David Brower and is one of only 30 buildings in the San Francisco Bay Area to secure LEED Platinum. The building includes 50,000 square feet of office space, public education space, and a restaurant. The Center provides rental office space for environmental non-profit organisations along with a conference center for environmentally conscious events.
A host of energy- and water-efficient design strategies were included to secure the LEED certification such as optimal siting; 100% daylighting of all office areas; natural ventilation; a high performance building skin; and a high efficiency HVAC system that includes in-slab radiant heating and cooling. The Brower Center Building Dashboard provides a range of sustainability statistics are in real time.
The building has utilized concrete with slag reduce CO2 and cement content and to increase strength. A vertically post-tensioned structure has been built to minimise potential damage due to future earthquakes. Operable windows and low pressure ventilation in the building is achieved through a raised flooring system to maximise indoor air quality. Co2 sensors have been employed throughout that indicates the level of fresh air inside.
Through the LEED® green building certification program, the U.S. Green Building Council is transforming the built environment. The green building movement offers an unprecedented opportunity to respond to some of the most important challenges of our time, which include global climate change, dependence on non sustainable and expensive sources of energy, and threats to human health.
Photovoltaic power generation with panels doubling as sun shade devices have been employed throughout, along with collection and reuse of rainwater for irrigation and toilet flushing. Waterless urinals have been installed across the facility, which is the first such in the city. A rainwater catchment system has also been employed that provides water for flushing toilets and outside irrigation along with low-flow fixtures and a solar hot water system. The building was constructed using 53% recycled & non-toxic materials.
The upper three floors of the David Brower Center include 24,000 square feet of new office space, home to organizations working for environmental and social justice. It’s a place designed to foster collaborations, engage people in advocacy and facilitate cross-sector communication and partnerships.
Tenants include national and international groups and activists working on everything from sustainability education in schools to healthy river systems, ecological diversity to the protection of regional agriculture. Current list of tenants:
- American Rivers
- Bay Area Green Tours
- Bay Area Open Space Council
- Center for Ecoliteracy
- Center for Safe Energy
- Citizen Engagement Laboratory
- Climate Earth
- Earth Island Institute
- Equity Community Builders
- Global Issues Network
- Green Jobs Network
- Green Schools Initiative
- The Hub
- The Institute for Environmental Entrepreneurship
- International Marine Mammal Project
- International Rivers
- Madera Group
- NextNow Collaboratory
- Potential Energy
- Regenerative Ventures
- Sacred Land Film Project
- SAGE (Sustainable Agriculture Education)
- Slow Money
- StrateGen Consulting
- Transportation Sustainability Research Center
- TruNorth Labs
- Wilderness Torah
- Women’s Earth Alliance
All Photo Credits – Tim Griffith