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Ward-Young Seeks Leed Certification on Forest Service Office and Lassen National Park Visitor's Center

Ward-Young Seeks Leed Certification on Forest Service Office and Lassen National Park Visitor's Center
By David Bourke, Associate, Ward-Young Architecture and Planning

The first building in Truckee to receive LEED certification was the Natural Resources Management Center at Old Greenwood, which was designed by Ward-Young Architects. More recently, Ward-Young has designed two buildings that they are hoping will receive gold and platinum level LEED certification. They are the Forest Service Truckee Ranger District Office Building and the Lassen National Park Visitors Center.

LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an evaluation system created and administered by the USGBC. The purpose of LEED is to provide the basis for an objective evaluation of how sustainably designed and constructed a building is, as well as to provide guide to assist designers to meet their sustainable goals. These goals include reducing a buildings environmental impact by minimizing site disturbance, limiting energy usage, using materials with low embodied energy, providing healthy indoor environments for occupants, and considering energy and chemical use required for maintenance.

LEED can be used to evaluate everything from remodels to neighborhoods. Separate evaluation criteria have been developed for nine different categories of construction. Within each construction class credits are earned within different categories, such as, sustainable sites, energy and atmosphere, etc. Different levels of certification can be achieved depending on how many credits are earned. The levels are certified, silver, gold and platinum.

The USFS Truckee Ranger District Office Building is currently being constructed by Geney/Gassiot and is expected to be completed in July of this year. The building functions as an office building for up to 60 employees, with open and private offices, conference rooms, a public reception area, and support spaces. The Forest Service went through an extensive process to create a 70 page document detailing overall and specific project requirements. One of those requirements was for the project was to receive LEED silver certification. In order to design the building to meet the goals of the Forest Service, Ward-Young Architects lead a design team of architects, engineers, and other specialists.

Design of the building started with site analysis. The site is at the top of a bluff overlooking the railroad tracks just east of downtown Truckee. There is a beautiful view to Lookout Mountain, great southern exposure, and trees to the west that provide afternoon shade. A Solar Pathfinder was used to evaluate solar exposure at different times of day and year. During soil studies, lead contamination was found on site. The Forest Service performed a complete decontamination of the site. This process was expensive, but did gain a LEED credit for the project.

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Passive Solar features of the new Truckee USFS Office
As the project moved on to preliminary design concepts, basic layout of the spaces and the building section were determined. The building was stretched out along the east/west axis to maximize winter solar gain in the winter, minimize summer solar gain from east and west, and to effectively provide glare-free daylight to the interior. A two-story sunspace corridor that acts as a comfort buffer zone was set along the southern edge of the building. Open office spaces were placed in the center of the building, and private offices were set along the north wall.
During development of the design, roof overhangs and exterior shading devices were refined to block summer sun, while allowing winter sun to be absorbed by the slate floors and concrete block half-walls. Sky lites were placed at the ridge, and light wells were extended through the upper floor to bring light to the center of the building. Lighting control systems were incorporated that measure daylight and dim the electric lights accordingly. High performance windows, manufactured by Alpen Glass, were selected for the project. These windows maintain a very low U-value of 0.18, while still providing excellent visible transmittance and a high solar heat gain coefficient. A mechanical system was incorporated that distributes air through an under-floor plenum created by an access floor system. Natural stack-effect carries air up through the space to the ridge were it is exhausted or mixed with fresh air and heated or cooled and redistributed to the under-floor plenum.
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The integration of architectural, mechanical, and electrical design resulted in expected energy efficiency (as determined by computer modeling) of 60% better than ASHRAE 90-2004 standards. This model is currently being reviewed by the USGBC, and if they agree with our analysis, the project will receive 10 LEED credits for energy performance.

Beyond energy efficiency, the project has incorporated materials and construction practices that help it to meet its environmental goals. Over 10% of all materials used in the project are recycled. Over 50% of wood used in the building comes from sustainably managed forests that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Adhesives, flooring, and paints all have low emissions. More than 10% of all materials are harvested and or manufactured regionally. More than 50% of construction waste is being diverted from the landfill.

Many additional sustainable design measures have been incorporated into the design and construction of the Truckee Ranger District Office Building. These measures are being documented and submitted to the USGBC for their review. It is expected, that upon completion, the building will receive LEED gold certification.

Ward-Young Architects is fortunate to have been given the opportunity to design several buildings which have been, or are on their way to becoming, LEED certified. We look forward to incorporating sustainable design concepts into all of our future work.

Ward Young Architect's
Our firm was founded in Truckee over thirty years ago. Over that time we have worked on everything from small remodels to resort hotels. Today about half of our business is custom residential design, with the remainder being commercial, mountain resort and public projects. We take a team approach to our work, orchestrating experts in various disciplines to produce creative, sensitive and high performing buildings.

Mail can be sent to: SiGBA P.O. Box 4245 Truckee, CA 96160

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