Client News: 6/17/09

Green from the ground up and open to the world with Wausau’s windows

When the David Brower Center in Berkeley, Calif., opened its doors to the public in May 2009, thousands of people toured this new four-story office building as warm, natural daylight and fresh Bay Area breezes filled the interior though windows provided by Wausau Windows and Wall Systems.

The first building of its kind in Berkeley and one of fewer than 10 such buildings in Northern California, the David Brower Center exemplifies modern green building and is on track to attain LEED Platinum rating, the highest certification level in the U.S. Green Building Council‘s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)® Green Building Rating System™.

The center is named after David Brower, first executive director of the Sierra Club and considered by many the father of the modern environmental movement. On what used to be a parking lot, the new center stands on a prime parcel of land eight blocks from the house where David Brower was born and directly across the street from the University of California Berkeley campus. The Brower Center includes 24,000 useable square feet of office space on its top three floors and is home to a wide range of nonprofit groups working for environmental and social action.

Wausau supplied 163 windows as part of the $28 million project, which took two years to complete. The rectangular building is only 65 feet wide, narrow for most office buildings, but ideal for bringing natural ventilation and daylight into the entire space. Operable windows contribute to a healthy indoor environment and take advantage of Berkeley’s moderate climate (median annual temperature of 68° F). The center achieves 100% daylighting in all office areas.

A distinctive feature of the Brower Center is the rounded corner at the east end of the building. Two streets come together here, Allston Way and Fulton Street, with Fulton Street curving as it heads north. Cahill Contractors, the general contractor for the project, and Hayward Glass, the glazing subcontractor, followed the curve in segments, using special mullions and other hardware to accommodate the angles of the splayed radius. Field measurements of the openings were taken before the windows were ordered for a precise fit.

Dave Tausheck, owner of Hayward Glass, comments on following the curve of the building, “Where the window sections adjoined, brake shapes were used inside and out and anchored to adjoining window jambs to meet the radius of the building.”

Another unique feature of the building related to windows may not be initially apparent from the outside. The windows are actually different heights, changing in size from floor to floor to maximize natural daylight while reducing heat gain.

WRT / Solomon E.T.C. were the architects for the project. Malcolm Harris, project architect, describes the reason for the varying heights, “The lowest office level, the second floor, gets the most shading from other buildings so it gets the biggest windows. The middle floor has a slightly lower floor to ceiling height. The windows on the top floor are the smallest and are shaded by photovoltaic panels on the cornice, which wraps around the top of the building. Skylights provide daylight deep in the office space.”

Harris continues with remarks on daylighting, “The windows go right up to the ceiling, which is a concrete slab painted reflective white on the underside, the ceiling. We used the brightest white we could find, which helps the light wash back in. During the day, office workers typically don’t need to use overhead lights.”

In fact, the center is designed to be more than 40% more efficient than required by code. More than 50% of the total material used in the Brower Center is recycled material, and during construction more than 75% of the project’s construction waste was diverted from landfill.

Windows selected for the Brower Center are from Advantage by Wausau‘s 3250 Series, which are high-performance windows featuring a 3.5-inch frame depth with polyurethane thermal barrier. The finish for exposed areas is clear anodize, applied by Linetec. Wausau’s 3250 Series windows are AAMA AW-70 rated, meeting the industry’s most stringent testing for air infiltration, water and condensation resistance, structural integrity and thermal performance.

Download a PDF of this success story from Wausau by clicking here.

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