Global Ecology Research Center at Stanford University is an extremely low-energy laboratory and office building for the Carnegie Institution of Washington. The mission of the new Department of Global Ecology is to conduct basic research on the interactions between the earth's ecosystems, land, atmosphere, and oceans.
This project unified several buildings and activated spaces on a site that the Carnegie Institution has occupied since 1928, improving contact and circulation between two departments and creating an outdoor collaboration space.
From the Global Ecology researchers' perspective, the most pressing environmental issues are global climate change, biodiversity, and water issues. The client encouraged the design team to reduce carbon impacts and address biodiversity and water issues while providing laboratory and research spaces that meet the highest standards of comfort and performance. This focus resulted in a 72% reduction in carbon emissions associated with building operation and a 50% reduction in embodied carbon for building materials.
Proper orientation, exceptional daylighting, sunshading, and natural ventilation set the stage for innovative mechanical systems. A "night sky" radiant cooling system demonstrates the same principles of radiant heat loss to deep space in which the researchers are investigating. An evaporative katabatic (downdraft) cooling tower serves as an iconic focal point, while tempering an indoor/outdoor lobby and collaboration space.
The team also aggressively pursued habitat- and water-conservation goals. The exterior wood cladding is salvaged wine-cask redwood, the interior wood and veneers are FSC-certified domestic ash, tables in the conference room and lobby were made from trees salvaged from a nearby municipal yard, workstation tabletops were made from salvaged doors, and recycled aggregate substituted for about 20% of site concrete aggregate. Water use is reduced by one-third through no-irrigation landscaping, dual-flush toilets, a waterless urinal, and low-flow sinks.