Stanford University dedicated its most energy-efficient building on campus on Tuesday, one that will use half the electricity and just 10 percent of the potable water of a standard building its size.
The Jerry Yang and Akiko Yamazaki Environment and Energy Building, dubbed Y2E2 for short, is the first of four buildings in the university's new science and engineering quad. The 166,000-square-foot structure is the school's most aggressive effort thus far to reconsider standard building design in favor of sustainable, energy-efficient structures, according to officials.
In 2004, Stanford's president and board of trustees launched the campus-wide Initiative on the Environment and Sustainability to address concerns about consumption and waste. According to the initiative, Y2E2 is "meant to showcase sustainable building practices and serve as a living laboratory for the research conducted inside."
Y2E2 was funded by a $75 million grant from Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang and his wife Akiko Yamazaki. It is a multi-purpose building and will house research labs, classrooms, conference rooms and faculty offices.
Portland-based Boora Architects, Hargreaves Associates and Arup, both based in San Francisco, collaborated on the design.
Over time, the building is projected to use 56 percent less electrical energy and 90 percent less potable water than a traditional building of comparable size.
To make the most use of available heat and light, the building designers sought to draw in cool air during the summer and insulate the interior from cold during the winter. Most of the building's exterior walls have windows that open and shut automatically and are controlled by heat-sensing monitors. The open windows draw in cool air all night and shut to keep out hot air during the day.
"The Peninsula has the perfect climate for 'nighttime cooling' during the summer months," according to architect Tom Bauer, who left Boora last year to become Stanford's assistant director of project management. The building's use of open space, coupled with many of the materials used in its interior, allow it to remain cool for hours longer during the day than a comparably sized traditional building.
Y2E2 has four light-collecting open spaces called "atria," which extend four floors from roof to ground floor. Each atrium is topped by a raised triangular skylight that concentrates and redirects light.
Exterior windows are treated depending on the direction they face and their exposure to sunlight. South- and west-facing windows are more heavily shade-treated, which reduces the amount of radiant heat from the sun and lessens the need for electrical cooling.
Additionally, all of the building's exterior windows sport a feature called a "light shelf" <0x2014> a panel that juts out horizontally to catch and redirect sunlight into the building while shading the windows themselves from the sun's heat.
On a recent tour, Bauer was enthusiastic about the building's innovative design and its energy-saving features.
"The facilities people here at Stanford were really behind the building's 'green' design. They were able to see how the relative expense of some of the project's energy-saving features was justified by how much power use they would eliminate over time," he said.
Other energy efficiency measures include a radiant-cooling technology called "active chilled breath," reducing the number of individual offices and the elimination of carpeting.
The facilitating cooling system uses chilled flowing water running through the ceiling and the principle that heavier cool air falls while lighter hot air rises.
Open-plan workrooms, rather than single-occupant offices, will reduce the need to light, heat and cool individual spaces.
Y2E2's interior flooring is simple polished concrete. By eliminating carpeting, the building's designers saved not only thousands of square feet of raw material, but hours of work and the energy otherwise needed to maintain it.
Aesthetically, the building's designers came up with creative solutions when faced with having to compromise between form and function, according to Stanford.
Many of the building's interior elements are made of inexpensive industrial and recycled materials. The building's flat roof, which supports much of its heating and cooling machinery, is hidden from view on all four sides by sloping panels made to resemble the red tile roofs for which many of Stanford's historic buildings are known.
In addition to its energy-efficient green design, Y2E2 is part of a larger plan to foster innovation by creating an area where professors, researchers, designers and students from different fields of study can work side by side. The building will gather together biologists, engineers, legal scholars, earth scientists and ecologists among others in the hope of breeding new cross-disciplinary collaborations.
"The entire building will constitute a living laboratory for sustainable design," said Jeffrey Koseff, director of Stanford's Woods Institute for the Environment.
The Jerry Yang and Akiko Yamazaki Environment and Energy Building is located at 473 Via Ortega.