The slope and length of the building is designed to maximize natural daylight and views, and to harness passive solar radiation. Louvers mounted on the south face exterior also screen the summer sunshine glare, while allowing light in during winter months, and much use is made of glass and relites to maximize natural light. The “eco-roof” contains hundreds of plants that create a microclimate to provide insulation from heat and cold. The bed is supported atop a stout, fiber-reinforced base structure utilizing technology developed at Oregon State University. This rooftop living garden reduces the building ‘heat-island’ effect while also providing a natural way to manage storm water through absorption before it hits the ground – thereby reducing runoff.
After leaving the roof, water can continue through a system of vegetated swales (similar to very small creeks) and underground rock-infiltration trenches on the ground. These swales allow water to better mimic nature by capturing runoff, slowing flows and allowing water to infiltrate the soil. Basins under the 120-space parking lot also offer percolation. Storm water is taken care of on-site to ensure no water goes into the City storm water system.
The water efficiency theme continues inside the building with low-flow fixtures throughout and waterless urinals, leaving more water in our aquifers and rivers. Radiant heating and cooling is delivered via in-floor water-filled tubing to create an energy-efficient internal temperature, while roof-mounted solar panels heat water.
Recycled material used inside includes countertops made from ‘paperstone’ (utilizing compressed post-consumer recycled waste paper) and fascias of reeds derived from recycled plastic resin. Staff workstation surfaces feature wheat or sunflower seed husk composition. Bamboo, a rapidly renewable resource, is used throughout the building.
An important result of building green is lower operational costs for power and water. Studies indicated that the cost of green infrastructure will be recouped witin 10 years. As this public building is intended to be occupied for at least 50 years, the community will be reaping its benefits for several decades to come.