Metropolitan Magazine’s The Next Generation 2011 Design Competition winner is a team of emerging architects and engineers who propose bringing an existing GSA building office building in downtown Los Angeles to net-zero energy. The design team, consisting of members from Vanderweil and HOK, used the design principles of the Living Building Challenge 2.0 to radically modify the building’s infrastructure and program.

Process Zero: Retrofit Resolution uses bio-engineering processes to create energy onsite, process all waste water and clean polluted air. The southern façade is retrofitted with tubes to farm algae which will be feed carbon rich air from the freeway. The algae will then be feed into a bio-reactor to create lipids than can be stored and burned in a combined cycle generator. Much of the building’s waste water will be used in the process and finally filtered in ponds adjacent to the office.

A full arsenal of technologies are proposed to reduce the building’s energy needs including ground source heat pump powered chillers connected to chilled beams, Energy Recovery Ventilation, waste heat coils, natural ventilation and radiant floors along with energy producing and harvesting solar technologies. The technologies are highly organized to use natural energy and systems before relying on conventional means.

The key change to the program is to introduce three full story height light shafts to introduce daylight into 100% of the floor plate. The shafts will also provide operable windows to provide fresh air near work stations. The design is intended to create a template for many more Government buildings to incorporate deep energy saving technologies and techniques that are fully integrated systems.

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