Sustainable Building: Green Market Keeps Growing

Fuller's environmental decisions for the library include "choosing good materials and being energy efficient."
Sustainable design and construction matches Fuller's philosophy and values.
The David Allan Hubbard Library will be the largest of its kind on the Pacific Rim.
Fuller's environmental decisions for the library include "choosing good materials and being energy efficient."
Sustainable design and construction matches Fuller's philosophy and values.
The David Allan Hubbard Library will be the largest of its kind on the Pacific Rim.

DPR Building Fuller Theological Seminary Library Project, Continuing its Strong Presence and Nearly Decade of Experience Building Sustainable Projects.

In the eight years since DPR completed its first green project for Aspect Communications in San Jose, CA, the movement toward green design and construction has surged from a trickle to a flood of projects encompassing virtually every market sector.

Team Players

Project: David Allan Hubbard Library

Client: Fuller Theological Seminary

Architects: House & Robertson Architects, Inc.; William McDonough + Partners

Public and private owners alike have come to recognize the value that sustainable design and construction adds to their building projects. While the measurable long-term cost savings achieved over the life of a facility have been a key factor driving the green building movement, owners also have been motivated by the advantages of offering employees a healthier and more “people friendly” work environment and the opportunity to be better environmental stewards.

In Pasadena, CA, along with a handful of other municipalities across the U.S., the city’s municipal building code now requires projects over a certain size to be LEED® certifiable. DPR is currently building the first major green project to be permitted under Pasadena’s new code requirements (effective April 2006), the new David Allan Hubbard Library for Fuller Theological Seminary. With House & Robertson Architects, Inc. serving as the architect of record, the project was master planned by architect William McDonough + Partners, a leader in green design that also worked with DPR in 2000 on the Aspect Communications project, as well as more recently on a campus for VMware in Palo Alto, CA.

Kevin Burke, partner and director of practice for William McDonough + Partners, has seen firsthand the explosive growth of projects incorporating sustainable design and construction over the last decade or so. “Ten years ago green design was such a fledgling movement in this country. There were only a handful of green projects in the U.S., and many of the components of green design that are now so prevalent, like green roofs and under-floor air delivery systems, were quite rare,” he commented. “Today, with the ubiquity of LEED, so many members of the project team are conversant in sustainability issues. I think we will continue to see a maturation of the sustainability movement, as owners, contractors and designers become increasingly more sophisticated about green design.”

The David Allan Hubbard Library represents DPR’s second project on the Fuller campus, following completion of a $27 million student housing project last year. As the world’s largest interdenominational seminary, the owner wanted to create a world-class library that would be the largest of its kind on the Pacific Rim. The project includes a new 48,250-sq.-ft. addition to the existing 34,705-sq.-ft. McAlister Library, with two stories below grade and three above. The library will house approximately 1.3 million volumes in multiple languages. Several thousand books are the only known copy, with some dating back as far as the 1500s.

Green components of the project include:

  • extensive use of natural daylighting, accomplished through window placement and design;
  • onsite storm water quality control; water-use reduction through the use of ultra-efficient fixtures;
  • and approximately 90 percent recycled construction and demolition waste diverted from landfill.

A key architectural focal point at the building’s entry is a stylized open book feature, accomplished through a glazing structure.

The selection of DPR for this project was a natural choice for Fuller, according to Howard Wilson, executive vice president of administration for the seminary. Following DPR’s successful completion of the Fuller student housing project, Wilson said: “We are very happy with the DPR team. They are very careful with our money, and we really appreciate that. One of the things we like about DPR is they are very innovative and always look for new and better ways to do things.”

DPR’s ability to innovate has been critical as it contends with construction challenges that include a tight downtown site with very little lay down area. The building is surrounded on all four sides: two sides adjacent to existing buildings, and a city street and a utility right of way on the other sides. DPR project manager Sean Fowler noted that the team chose the internally supported Raker system to shore the adjacent buildings while laying the footprint of the library. The system, which utilizes large, 50-ft.-long, 12-inch-diameter pipes to stabilize the below-grade walls, was chosen in lieu of the more common tie-back system in deference to adjacent property owners who did not want tie backs underneath their structures.

The project will seek LEED certification when it is completed in May 2009. It will eventually be followed by construction of a new worship center, currently in the fundraising stages, which is being designed to Silver LEED certification standards.

Wilson noted that the sustainable design and construction approach is a good fit with the owner’s overall philosophy and values. “We believe we have a calling to be a good steward of the environment in which we live, and we’re exercising that by choosing good materials and being energy efficient,” he commented. “But it’s also a very practical issue. As a nonprofit organization, if we can reduce our operating costs through energy efficient design, we’re interested in doing that.”

While long-term cost savings has clearly been a selling point in moving green into the forefront in recent years, the question for many owners has always been what the upfront costs will be, Burke pointed out. “The ‘Holy Grail’ of the sustainability movement is still around cost, and how to address cost issues and premiums for green projects,” he said.
“There are definitely cost premiums for getting to a truly high level of green performance, a ‘beyond-platinum’ level. By the same token, there are measurable paybacks and savings over the life of the project.”

Michelle Amt, project manager on the Fuller project for William McDonough + Partners, added: “We encourage our clients to think about value in a different way: Buildings aren’t a commodity, they are an investment. Owners that incorporate sustainability as part of a larger strategic plan realize value in other ways—positive publicity, speedy approvals, better community relations, etc. We suggest looking through multiple lenses, not just bottom-line payback, because many strategies do not have directly measurable financial returns but can still be meaningful contributors to project and organizational goals.”