Two buildings paved way for Y2E2
The Jerry Yang and Akiko Yamazaki Environment and Energy Building may represent
the cutting edge of sustainability, but it is not the first “green” building
on campus. It has two important, award-winning predecessors—and additional green
construction is soon to be under way.
The Carnegie ecology building, which opened in 2004 at 260 Panama St., was designed
to underscore the philosophy of the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global
Ecology. The independent research organization, which has extensive collaborative
ties to Stanford, seeks to develop a scientific foundation for a sustainable
“The building has performed extremely well, and it has been an inspiration for
some of the features in Y2E2,” said the department’s director, Stanford biology
Professor Chris Field. “We interacted a lot with the design team for Y2E2 and
answered their questions.”
The building has been a winner: In 2007, the American Institute of Architects
named it one of the group’s annual Top Ten Green Projects. It also was one of
two buildings to win top honors in the first-ever Livable Buildings Awards sponsored
by the Center for the Built Environment at the University of California-Berkeley.
The Carnegie building’s green vision begins with its footprint—its long, skinny
shape is oriented along an east-west axis to minimize energy use. A cooling tower
combines the effects of evaporation and gravity to efficiently lower the temperature
of the lobby, which is encased in glass that slides up, to create a covered patio
effect, or down, to form a sun room. Recycled materials are used throughout the
When the architects first considered a hillside field station for the Jasper
Ridge Biological Preserve, it seemed almost sacrilegious to do anything on the
oak-dotted hill, part of a 1,200-acre oasis with such rich diversity of plant
and animal life that it is included in an international biosphere reserve (a
conservation designation given by UNESCO). Green was the only way to go.
The path brought distinction: In 2005, Jasper Ridge’s Leslie Shao-ming Sun Field
Station was the first Stanford building to win the American Institute of Architects’
Top Ten Green Projects award.
“Stanford is incredibly fortunate and far-sighted to have two such buildings
on its campus,” said Field, who is also the faculty director at Jasper Ridge.
“It shows a significant commitment to pushing the envelope with this new direction.”
Twenty-five banks of photovoltaic panels at the field station convert sunlight
into electricity. Light monitors on the roof balance the amount of interior light
that shines into the building.
The building’s skylights are recycled from another building, a walk-in cold room
was salvaged from a lab on campus, and cabinetry was salvaged from a biotech
firm remodel. The entrance is paved with Scottish bricks from Jane and Leland
Stanford’s country home in Palo Alto, which was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake.
Every attempt was made to keep the landscape as pristine as possible. The drip
lines of all the mature oak trees on the site were fenced off from construction,
and young oak seedlings were transplanted elsewhere on the preserve.
These buildings will soon be joined by two other notable examples of sustainable
architecture: the new Graduate School of Business complex and a special dormitory
for undergraduate and graduate students.
The Business School’s Knight Management Center—to be built at the corner of Serra
Street and Campus Drive East—is expected to set the gold standard for sustainability
in its design, construction and use. Planners are looking closely at a host of
green features. These include using rainwater or recirculated gray water for
the building’s sewage system, and choosing materials that emit little or no volatile
organic compounds that cause poor indoor air quality. Designers also are looking
into a system that monitors indoor and outdoor temperatures and lets people know
when it is acceptable to open the windows, helping to reduce air conditioning.
The Business School created an Environmental Sustainability Task Force of 15
members made up of key stakeholders: faculty, staff, students and alumni. Through
discussion among themselves and consultations with nationally renowned experts,
members identified existing and emerging sustainability technologies and solutions.
Among the goals it set are a flexible site design to ensure it will accommodate
future needs, mechanical and electrical systems to exceed current energy efficiency
standards by 40 to 45 percent. The project is scheduled to break ground this
The center is expected to demonstrate how smart building design can dramatically
reduce environmental impacts and decrease lifetime cost. The effort represents
a tremendous opportunity for the school to promote environmental leadership by
demonstrating its environmental commitment to academia, business and the world.
Also in the works is a Green Dorm, which planners hope will be a research platform
for testing new energy, water and structural technologies and systems. The residents
not only will determine if there are workable solutions, but also desirable solutions
from a user’s point of view. As now conceived, it will house 50 students at a
tiny fraction of the environmental cost of a traditional dormitory. The building
will recycle its own water and generate its own electricity. It also will include
teaching, lab and demonstration facilities. The feasibility study was approved
in 2006, and the dorm already has its own website: http://www.stanford.edu/group/greendorm.