Exterior of building with rainbow in background

Carnegie Institution of Washington Global Ecology Center

Carnegie Institution of Washington Global Ecology Center | Stanford, California

Located on Stanford University’s campus, the high-energy efficiency Global Ecology Center for the Carnegie Institution of Washington “represents creative yet common-sense solutions to age-old challenges in building design.” The project consisted of a 10,890-sq.-ft. research and office building and a 3,530-sq.-ft. warehouse that leapfrogs existing standards in energy efficiency, sustainable materials and occupant comfort and safety.



Two of the building’s most notable sustainable elements are the Night Sky cooling system and a 45-ft. katabatic cooling tower. The cooling system, which features a roof irrigation system on a metal panel roof, is activated in the evenings to provide cold water that is funneled through the roof gutters and rainwater leaders and is stored in a thermal storage tank for the building’s radiant cooling system. The katabatic cooling tower has a structural steel “wind catcher” that captures wind driven by the downward movement of cold air. The air descends through the tower, passing through a cold water mister about a third of the way down, and into the main lobby. The center also features sunshades, high-performance glazing, efficient ventilation with heat recovery, radiant slab heating and cooling, light shelves, a naturally ventilated top floor, rainwater catchments, spectrally selective roofing, and a fully daylight interior with lighting controls.

The architect also came up with the idea to use recycled doors for desktops rather than plywood or traditional furniture. “We contacted several of our local door suppliers who provided us with new, unused doors to install free of charge,” said Eddie Parenti, DPR’s project manager.

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