The limited access to utilities and contaminated brownfield soil became project drivers for sustainability. A 6” layer of clean fill was added throughout the site and the helical pier foundation system limits soil disturbance. Prefabrication helped limit construction waste and led to a thermally sealed building assembled in a controlled environment.
Given the funding streams, the design team balanced building energy use with the photovoltaic array production capacity, size and cost. The roof material, building massing and orientation, and thermal envelope were all carefully designed to maximize impact of the array and minimize energy use. Utilization of natural and renewable materials, triple pane glazing, operable windows, low flow plumbing fixtures, high efficiency lighting, and stormwater capture make it one of the most environmentally responsible buildings in the region.
Residential scale building systems act as demonstration tools for visitors. Heating and cooling of partially occupied spaces is provided by on-demand units and all roof rainwater is collected in barrels for irrigation. Supply water through a public utility was not available, so all potable water is delivered to a storage tank that employs a charcoal filter and ultraviolet system to further clean the water. If state regulations change, the system could be adapted to feed the supply water tank with collected rainwater.
The impact the project can be felt at an urban scale: a once blighted industrial site is now filled with thousands of trees that improve air quality and a building that educates visitors about sustainable strategies in their homes.