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San Diego
Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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Training Center is a Model of Sustainability

ARCHITECTURE: AVRP Studios Designs $16M ‘Benchmark Project’

AVRP Studios, an architectural firm based in East Village, has designed a Mission Valley training center for utility workers that is meant to be a prototype for similar projects that strive to be net zero energy.

Chris Veum
Partner and President
AVRP Studios

“What makes this unique is it’s really a benchmark project from a sustainability standpoint,” said Chris Veum, a partner and president of AVRP Studios. “We’re taking this approach to other buildings as well.”

The center is designed to be LEED gold certified, providing all its own energy and water or landscape irrigation – designs that make it net zero.

The $16 million training center “is actually two separate structures,” Veum said. “One is an L-shape and the other’s a rectangular shape.”

Totaling 18,000 square feet, the two structures come together, creating a courtyard in the middle.

“We tried to do some special strategies, like with the solar panels, normally people put them on the roof. We do have them on the roof, but we added additional solar panels that stick out of the skin of the building on the east and west side,” Veum said.

The additional solar panels provide electricity but also help shade the building when the sunlight is at its peak.

Zane Ely
Senior Associate
AVRP Studios

“It’s a nice architectural element on the building,” said Zane Ely, a senior associate at AVRP Studios.

In all, the center has 256 solar panels.

Additional shading is provided by translucent solar shades that cover exterior walkways on the second floor.

“Heat reflects up, but they allow light to go through,” Ely said. “It’s like a fiberglass sandwich panel.”

The windows on the sides of the center are designed to open and close, either manually or with a mechanical system that can be tied to the heating and cooling systems to allow for natural ventilation when the air conditioning isn’t needed.

In addition to training classrooms, the center includes a 1,000-square-foot outdoor gym on the ground level.

Earth Conscious

Structurally, the center is made of concrete blocks that use recycled materials in their manufacture.

The center is also designed to use prefabricated components as much as possible to reduce construction waste.

Just a few years ago, designing net zero buildings was thought to make structures costlier to build, but Veum said the training center is proof that’s no longer the case.

“It’s kind of reaching that balance point right now where we’re finding that we can do these strategies without costing the owner,” Veum said. “If you’re creating a high-performance building and you’re using sustainable strategies, there’s no additional cost. “

As companies push for employees to return to the office post-COVID, sustainable buildings such as the training center are an added incentive.

“The younger generation wants to know that their employer is earth conscious,” Veum said. “This building is an example of that.”

Although the technology is far from new, the building is designed to provide its own water for irrigation through two 3,250-gallon tanks that capture rainwater from the roof.

“Water comes down through the drainpipes, we pump it into these tanks, we fill the tanks during the rainy season, then we hold it until we need it during the dry season,” Ely said.

The practice was common elsewhere, but Ely said it had been discouraged in California because the thinking was that it was better to get the water back into the ground.

Pending permitting, the center will be finished by the end of 2024.

AVRP Studios

Founded: 1976
Founder & Chairman: Douglas Austin, FAIA
Headquarters: East Village
Business:   Architects and Interior Designers
Employees: 44
Website:    www.avrpstudios.com
Contact: San Diego office, 619-704-2700; Canada office,   T: 604-662-4479
Notable:   AVRP Studios has designed more than $3 billion worth of construction projects and was awarded patents for a new methodology involving prefabricating modules   to construct concrete buildings up to 75 stories tall.

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