Ideas Integral Office

IDeAs Z Squared Building

Location: San Jose, California
Architect: EHDD Architecture
Sustainability: Certified Net Zero Project by International Living Future Institute

Integrated Design Associates (IDeAs) opened their new office, the IDeAs Z2 Design Facility, in October of 2007. The building is the first certified zero energy, zero carbon project, and was designed to produce more electric energy than it uses, by careful shell design and providing onsite power through a rooftop mounted photovoltaic system. The building is carbon neutral, as it uses no fossil fuels for heating or cooling. The design team for the project – EHDD Architecture, architects, Integral Group, mechanical engineers, and IDEAS, electrical engineers – has a long history of working together collaboratively in a number of highly sustainable projects. The team transformed a windowless 1960s concrete former bank building into a beautifully lighted space that is not only highly green, but also spacious, serene and comfortable for its occupants.

An outstanding example of highly sustainable adaptive reuse, the building underwent massive changes in its transformation and has many unique features to save energy. To achieve the seemingly ambitious goal of a zero-energy, zero-carbon building, a combination of different design strategies was used. The main source of heating and cooling is a ground-source heat pump driven by the photovoltaic power source. The heat pump produces both chilled water and hot water efficiently, thus lowering energy use to help meet both the net-zero energy and zero carbon emission goals. The system takes advantage of what the earth naturally provides—a constant belowground temperature of about 10 degrees Celsius. The building plan mandated that all heating and cooling would be achieved through an in-slab radiant system. Using water to heat and cool a space with this system uses considerably less energy than a traditional forced air system.

Daylight was used to light all workspaces, and was provided by several strategically located skylights. During the building’s opening, IDeAs hosted the City of San José’s public release of a comprehensive 15-year plan for conserving energy, combating climate change, and securing Silicon Valley’s position as the nation’s green tech innovation center. Mayor Chuck Reed selected IDeAs new Z2 Design facility to showcase how ambitious goals for environmental protection and economic development can be realized.