Packard Foundation Achieves Goal of Operating Its Headquarters at Net Zero Energy

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation announced today that it has achieved the goal of operating its headquarters building at net zero energy by generating more than enough electricity to meet its needs during the first full year of occupancy.  The 49,000 square foot building, located at 343 Second Street, is the largest building to date to receive Net Zero Energy Building Certification™ through the International Living Future Institute (ILFI). It is one of very few buildings worldwide to carry both that designation and LEED® Platinum (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.

“The Packard Foundation believes that the future of the planet’s health greatly depends on how we live and work today,” said Susan Packard Orr, board chair of the Foundation. “My parents, David and Lucile Packard, cared deeply about science and technology as a means to effect positive change in the lives of real people, everywhere.  I am sure they would see their values reflected in this important achievement that’s been realized through the Foundation’s new headquarters.”

The Foundation chose to use sustainable materials and current technologies to demonstrate that it is possible to construct a building that fosters comfort for employees and care for the environment. Through solar panels, the architects and builders were able to achieve the goal of generating enough electricity to serve the Foundation’s needs. The LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum building’s solar panels are expected to pay for themselves through electricity cost savings within 10 years.

“When the Foundation was designing the building, we made a conscious effort to live the values we support and the building is a physical manifestation of our long-term commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Carol Larson, President and CEO of the Foundation. “Our hope is that the building will serve as an inspiration to other organizations, businesses and individuals who want to move our communities toward more environmentally-sustainable living and build the possibility of a better future.”

Monitoring and managing the electricity consumption and the systems that use it, including heating, air conditioning and lighting has been a crucial part of the Foundation’s efforts to achieve net zero energy operation. One of the important lessons learned from the Foundation’s headquarters is how actively engaged the building’s occupants need to be, including the on-site facilities managers employed by the Foundation to manage the building systems.

“The Net Zero Energy Building Certification of the Packard Foundation building is significant to ILFI because it shows that it is possible for large buildings to live within their energy means,” said Amanda Sturgeon, Vice President of the Living Building Challenge for ILFI. “The Packard Foundation has shown that organizations do not need to trade off comfort to achieve net zero energy. They have shown it is possible to build and operate buildings that meet these dual goals.”

All systems in the building were chosen to provide a comfortable and healthful workspace for employees while maximizing energy efficiency and minimizing environmental impact. Materials used in the interior finishes of the building are low in volatile organic compounds emissions and the ventilation system uses 100 percent outside air. The building was designed to reduce water consumption by 40 percent through capturing and reusing rainwater for irrigation and toilet flushing. The landscaping uses 90 percent California native plants in order to eliminate the use of pesticides and to provide familiar food and shelter for local birds and insects. All wood used in the structure is FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified and 95 percent of materials deconstructed from pre-existing buildings were recycled.

The building was designed by EHDD Architecture, a firm based in San Francisco, California and built by DPR Construction, with overall project and budget management provided by RhodesDahl LLC. Building construction costs were $37.2 million.

A more detailed account of the decision-making and technical details that went into the construction of the Packard Foundation’s building is now available through a commissioned case study by Robert H. Knapp, a professor and green building expert.  An executive summary and long version of the case study are available for download from the Packard Foundation website.

Read the full press release.