The Palo Alto Weekly's 10,000-square-foot headquarters building at 450 Cambridge Ave. has been awarded LEED Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council, realizing a dream hatched more than four years ago to build Palo Alto's first such facility and to be a model for future commercial "green" development.
The public is invited to tour the three-story building and enjoy refreshments at an open house Sunday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., coinciding with "To Life," a Jewish cultural street festival taking place that day on California Avenue.
LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the nation's pre-eminent program for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings.
The Weekly achieved the Gold-level certification due to green design and construction features that substantially reduced energy and water use, utilized local and sustainable building materials and provided amenities for employees that make for a healthier and more comfortable work environment.
In addition to using the most efficient heating and air conditioning on the market, the building has eight different climate zones, uses motion detectors for lighting and is designed to maximize passive solar heating in the winter. Carbon-dioxide sensors constantly measure the quality of the air and when the air is stale automatically signal the heating and air-conditioning system to bring in and circulate fresh air from the outside.
The building features an open office space plan that allows natural light from expansive windows to reach almost every employee.
An underground Roman drain system diverts all surface and roof rain water away from the city's storm drain system into an underground gravel-filled reservoir and is absorbed into the aquifer.
"We wanted to use this project as an opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to sustainability and to create a building that will be healthy and comfortable for our employees, as well as a model for future developers," said Bill Johnson, Weekly publisher and president of Embarcadero Media, the company he formed in 1979 to start the paper.
Johnson credited the vision of Palo Alto developer Jim Baer, who managed the construction, for the inspiration to maximize green features. The building was the first LEED project for both Baer and the general contractor, Cody-Brock of San Carlos, as well as many of the subcontractors. Interior design was by Rise Krag of Menlo Park and lighting design was done by Rita Koltai of Palo Alto. The project architect was the Hagman Group of San Jose.
"We jointly made the decision as a display of leadership," said Baer, owner of Premier Properties Management and a longtime environmentalist. "We should all be on that learning edge of what sustainable building means. If not us, who?"
"Building operations are nearly 40 percent of the solution to the global climate-change challenge," said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair of the U.S. Green Building Council. "While climate change is a global problem, innovative companies like Embarcadero Media are addressing it through local solutions."
Palo Alto Weekly Open House
What: Free tour of the Weekly's LEED Gold building, with refreshments
When: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Sunday (Oct. 10)