The David Brower Center, which was unveiled two years ago on the corner of Allston Way and Oxford, was always intended to be more than your average edifice. “We set out to create an exemplary building,” said its architect, Daniel Solomon.
Now the center, named after the prominent Berkeley environmentalist, and designed to be a hub for environmental and social action, has earned one of the top green-building accolades, with a Platinum LEED certification from the US Green Building Council. It’s the first platinum-certified building in Berkeley, and one of only 30 in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Because the building is state of the art in terms of green construction, it is also being closely monitored by UC Berkeley’s Center for the Built Environment. Fred Bowman, Research Specialist at CBE, said they are keeping tabs on the building’s Energy Star rating, as well as on the occupant experience. Other areas being measured include power monitoring and workplace acoustics. “We are using the building as a living lab to support new research findings on cutting edge technologies,” he said.
This morning, the team responsible for the building’s design gathered at the Brower Center to be congratulated for gaining the LEED status. “It’s our green dream team,” said the center’s Executive Director Amy Tobin, mentioning, among others, its architect Solomon, as well as structural engineers Tipping Mar and the center’s founder Peter Buckley, who, she said, “pushed the envelope” to achieve such a pioneering space.
“In many ways we have exceeded the LEED targets,” Tobin said. “And it’s so thrilling to see the living, breathing space working so well every day.”
Some of the immediately obvious green features include the building’s ample natural daylight and operable windows. Less evident are its energy efficiency, solar power and waste recycling systems.
Solomon also cites less transparent, but no less important, factors such as the building’s longevity and seismic robustness. “The Brower Center is built almost on top of the Hayward Fault, and when we designed it we went beyond the need to preserve life and limb. We built it to last, which is an important aspect of sustainability,” he said.
Another consideration not measured by organizations such as the Green Building Council, or Berkeley’s Green Point Rated system, is what it feels like to be in the building, said Solomon. “This is hard to quantify. But when you enter the Brower Center it feels good, it smells good, there are views of the hills and you have a distinct sense of the weather. People who work there feel it. There is throbbing life there. It lives up to Peter Buckley’s vision for a ‘lively, thriving, spirited place’.”
The Brower Center has held more than 500 events since it opened. It acts as a hub for environmental nonprofits, offering meeting and exhibition spaces, and there are 40 resident organizations under its roof. “They collaborate and cut down on duplicating efforts,” said Tobin. “This has become a destination for dozens of emerging grassroots networks and businesses committed to sustainability. They’re rushing to save the world.”