Photo by Tim Griffith, courtesy of ZGF Architects
Other Sustainability Features
As a LEED Platinum and Living Building Challenge Petal Certified building, the Innovation Center showcases other important sustainable design principles beyond energy savings. Everything from building materials to art and interior finishes were carefully selected to ensure an aesthetically pleasing, sustainable, and durable state-of-the-art office space and convening center that draws on a unique connection to nature to keep occupants happy, healthy, and productive.
All building materials were carefully selected by the design and construction team to ensure an aesthetically pleasing, sustainable, and durable state-of-the-art office space and convening center that draws on a unique connection to nature to keep occupants happy, healthy, and productive.
- 90% of building construction waste was recycled
- Durable interior finishes include easily replaceable carpet tiles, concrete floors, painted walls, and acoustic fabric walls
- Healthy materials with non-toxic components that meet LEED low volatile organic compound (VOC) requirements were prioritized for interior finishes (like paints and adhesives)
The building’s Colorado-sourced sandstone walls are battered and textured to encourage the catchment of snow, an expression that relates visually to the natural geology of the region. The linear expression of the stone and the natural variation of layers and color reinforce the idea that the building is of its place, that it is grown or extruded from the ground on which it sits.
Framing and Structural System
Cross-laminated timbers (CLTs) made of salvaged beetle-killed trees are used in the unusual wood ceiling you see throughout the first floor, and as flooring structure on the second floor. CLTs are engineered wood beams whose high strength and dimensional stability offer an attractive structural alternative to concrete, masonry, and steel. CLTs:
- Have a lower embodied energy than a traditional steel structure
- Allow for higher ceilings on the first floor, maximizing the benefits of daylighting and natural ventilation. This is because all data, mechanical, and electric infrastructure can fit in spaces between CLTs
- Reduce the need for conventional concrete or steel support pillars and floor plates, helping achieve an open floor plan
The building is framed with structural insulating panels (SIPs), which provide the dual benefit of super insulation and airtightness.
The connection to the landscape is critical even when inside. The green wall brings living material in, use of wood reflects the wooded groves outside, while windows create a seamless connection to outdoor spaces with visual continuity.
‐Kathy Berg, ZGF Architects
In the arid west, water may be just as important as energy. The Innovation Center has employed aggressive water-conservation measures in our low-flow fixtures and native, drought-tolerant landscaping. Dual plumbing has been installed throughout the building so that once gray water regulations are finalized in Colorado, we will be able to reuse water from sinks and showers in the toilets after a minimal level of on-site filtration.
Eventually, the amount of water used annually, both in the building and for landscaping, will be less than the amount of water that falls on the site, making the building “net-zero water.” Four aspects make net-zero water possible:
- Aggressive water efficiency: We save water in our toilets, sinks, and showers thanks to the most efficient fixtures on the market.
- Landscape Irrigation: Water is used from a pond west of the building that collects rainwater and snowmelt funneled through the bioswale, instead of the Town of Basalt’s potable water system.
- Gray-water Reuse: Gray-water reuse was recently legalized in the State of Colorado by the state legislature. However, the numerous regulatory agencies charged with the details of implementation are still working on the specific requirements for gray-water reuse. Once these requirements are finalized, the Innovation Center plans to complete our gray-water treatment system, making it one of the state’s first gray-water reuse systems in a commercial building. The system will collect, filter, and treat used water from bathroom sinks and showers, and use it for toilet flushing. It will save 19,000–37,000 gallons of potable water annually.
Through biophilic design, the Innovation Center creates a connection to nature, which improves employee alertness, energy levels, and mood, increasing productivity and employee satisfaction. Prominent biophilic features include:
- Interior plants
- Nature-inspired art
- Site orientation and windows that maximize views of nature
- Curved walls
- Natural building materials throughout the building’s interior and exterior
- Dynamic and diffuse light
- Natural colors
The green wall is one way to bring nature into the workplace. The hundreds of hardy, low-maintenance plants create a living wall, providing beauty, interior cooling and humidifaction, sound absorption, and improved indoor air quality.
The green wall also pays homage to RMI’s first headquarters, the home of Cofounder and Chief Scientist Amory Lovins. It features a prominent interior greenhouse with bananas and other tropical fruits at over 7,000 ft. in altitude.