In 1970, People's Food Co-op (generally called People's) set up shop in a building nearly one hundred years old that previously hosted a neighborhood grocery. The goal was to set the standard for sustainable groceries. Twenty-five years later, growing membership and an increasing customer base rendered the meager and dimly lit 2,400-square-foot space a liability to retail and office operations. To alleviate these constraints, People's renovated their existing space and grew the building to 5,400 square feet, incorporating innovative sustainable features along the way. The total project cost was approximately $900,000. From start to finish, the People's expansion demonstrates the value of viewing buildings holistically and executing integrated design processes.
People's strategically oriented and designed the building to maximize daylighting potential and take advantage of solar heat gain. A south-facing thermal storage bottle wall fronted by deciduous street trees permits sunlight and heat gain in the winter while the mass of its cob infill actively cools the space in the summer. The building also takes advantage of temperature differentials inside and outside the building to stimulate naturally driven ventilation among other heating and cooling strategies. A geothermal system heats and cools the building.
Rainwater is deemed an asset to the building by virtue of a rainwater recovery system that stores up to 1,500 gallons at a time and meets nearly all on-site irrigation demand throughout the summer, including drip irrigation for the partially vegetated rooftops. The building is plumbed to flush toilets with rainwater but is awaiting permits. Unharvested rainwater is directed to the ground to promote groundwater recharge and reduce the volume of stormwater entering the municipal storm/sewer system.
The courtyard formed by the "L" shaped building is planted with native and drought tolerant vegetation that requires minimal watering and provides shade and evaporative cooling.