Bright Ideas

Lighting System Leads to Cost Savings, Happier Worker

The San Francisco-based Energy Foundation is a partnership of major donors interested in solving the world’s energy crises. Its mission is to advance energy efficiency and renewable energy — new technologies that are essential components of a clean energy future. Since its inception in 1991, the foundation has supported efforts to promote the energy efficiency of buildings through appliance standards, building codes and other programs.

While planning the move to a new space in 2007, foundation executives saw an opportunity to align the foundation’s vision with its own workplace. “We saw our move into new offices as a chance to unite our mission with our facilities,” says Jacqui Wilson, assistant to the president of the Energy Foundation. “We wanted to make the space a showcase for intelligent design — a place whose layout and design supported open communication and where people would look forward to working.”

One way in which the Energy Foundation’s new office supports its mission is through lighting. The aesthetics, quality of light and intuitive wall controls make the office an attractive place to work and has achieved a 66 percent reduction in lighting energy use.

The New Home

Foundation administrators chose a new workspace in a landmark building that already had a good start on energy efficiency. The Bently Reserve Building was built in 1924 and once housed a U.S. Federal Reserve Bank. Today the building serves as a conference center, and the upper floors are leased as office space. The stately edifice had been renovated and already addressed the green aspects of basic building elements, like structure, envelope, HVAC and control systems. Moreover, the Bently Reserve had been outfitted with a state-of-the-art total light-management system.

“The building was a good fit for the Energy Foundation because they’re all about promoting conservation,” says David Hecht of TannerHecht Architecture in San Francisco. Hecht designed the foundation’s new workspace.

Hecht and his team set several design goals for the renovation of the 17,600-square-foot space on the fifth floor of the Bently Reserve. First, it had to be a showcase for energy savings. Second, it had to complement the “bones” of the building, using the existing structure, which included 15-foot windows and 18-foot ceilings, to create an atmosphere of understated elegance. Finally, the space had to support open communication among staff.

With such large windows, light control was a critical factor in the renovation. The design team wanted to harvest daylight from the windows for aesthetic and energy-saving reasons. However, the team also needed to manage glare on monitors and screens, as well as meet building-code requirements for task and ambient light.

Project Team

  • Architect: TannerHecht Architecture, San Francisco, www.tannerhecht.com
  • Interior Design: Gail Gordon Design, San Francisco
  • Green Building Consultant: Simon & Associates, San Francisco, www.greenbuild.com
  • Mechanical Engineer: CB Engineers, Bellevue, Wash., www.cbengineers.com
  • Products: EcoSystem lighting-control system; GRAFIK Eye QS preset light-control solution; Sivoia QS shading solution

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