The Global Ecology Resource Center at Stanford University houses the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Department of Global Ecology, which conducts research on the interactions between the earth’s ecosystems, land, atmosphere, and oceans. Driven by the organization’s acute awareness of the of humanity’s impact on the planet, ambitious environmental sustainability goals were set for the building at the outset of the design process. Those goals included minimizing energy and water use, limiting carbon emissions, and conserving resources. During the design process the architect, EHDD Architecture, came to discover the benefits of reclaimed materials not only in terms of achieving these goals, but also for their aesthetic character, durability, and long term cost benefits.
For instance, EHDD initially specified an FSC-certified tropical hardwood as the building’s exterior cladding. But after further research and discussions with GERC scientists, they decided they could not endorse tropical forestry, even if sustainable. They settled instead upon old-growth redwood from out-of-use wine vats. Due to the tight-grained quality of this old-growth wood, no sealer or paint was necessary as a preservative, reducing cost and maintenance over time. Other reclaimed materials included casework, workstation tabletops, sinks, and faucets, some of which were found on the California Materials Exchange.
A demanding client and the architect’s willingness to try new things yielded a beautiful building which truly pushed the limits of sustainable design. The project also served as a springboard for EHDD, which went on to use reclaimed materials on future projects including the Chartwell School (featured in the Design for Reuse Primer).
Reclaimed Materials (by application): Furnishings, Plumbing, Wood/Lumber
Location: Palo Alto, CA
Year completed: 2004
Architect: EHDD Architecture
Client: Carnegie Institution Department of Global Ecology
Contractor: DPR Construction, Inc.
AIA COTE Case Study