The new Brower Center in Berkeley
A section drawing shown below that cuts through the middle of the building reveals a range of energy-conserving strategies which are shown with explanatory captions in the small images that follow.
Perhaps the building’s most intriguing aspect–what the engineering firm, Tipping Mar, has called its “self-healing” structure–is hidden from view. It is a lateral structural system that uses vertical post-tensioning cables in the building’s walls and frames where they act as springs that allow the building to bend and sway in an earthquake and then pull back to its original alignment. The engineers believe that this re-centering behavior will allow the Brower Center to remain usable following a seismic event which would likely result in costly repair for a conventional structure.
The Brower Center’s design features include:
- Construction using 53% recycled materials.
- Photovoltaic panels which are also sun shades.
- 100% of all office areas are daylit.
- Collection and reuse of rainwater for irrigation and toilet flushing.
- Extremely low energy mechanical systems using radiant heating and cooling within the building’s concrete structural slabs.
- Solar shading devices on all south-facing windows.
- High efficiency lighting with automatic controls to limit use when adequate daylight is available.
- Concrete with slag to significantly reduce CO2 and cement content, and to increase strength.
- Vertically post-tensioned structure to minimize potential damage due to earthquakes.
- Operable windows and low pressure ventilation via the raised floor system to maximize indoor air quality.
- Co2 sensors that call for extra fresh air if required.
- Exterior and interior materials that ensure healthy air quality, maximize recycled content, avoid off-gassing, and minimize environmental impacts from production and transportation.