Lighting is one of the biggest energy eaters in any corporate office, but for the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, whose mission is improving the lives of children, families, and communities—all while restoring the planet—building green was always part of the plan, especially when the plan called for achieving net-zero energy and LEED Platinum certification. In addition to rainwater and storm-water collection, daylighting, roof-mounted photovoltaic panels, and conference rooms outfitted for maximum remote collaboration, lighting experts at JS Nolan + Associates Lighting Design brought their knowledge of efficiency and function to the project. JS Nolan president Janet Nolan walks us through the project one challenge at a time.
Location Los Altos, CA
Size 49,000 ft²
Completed July 2012
Program Private offices, open office spaces, conference and meeting rooms
Warm and Welcoming
The nonprofit organization’s headquarters is a two-story building with private and open-plan offices, small two- to four-person conference rooms around the perimeter, and a private boardroom. At the front of the building, a multipurpose conference room opens into a pre-function space that holds 250 people and can be configured to meet a variety of needs. The rectangular property includes a full catering kitchen, employee break stations, and has a landscaped courtyard in the center, which brings extensive daylight into the space. The architects incorporated wood, natural stone, and copper, and the lighting was chosen to match the warm and welcoming feel of the building.
The architectural requirements called for achieving a lighting power density of 35 percent below California’s Title 24 requirements. The property was mostly daylit, and electric lighting was used to complement that while a daylight-harvesting control system was installed throughout the building. To help achieve its power density goal, JS Nolan used both direct and indirect illumination, which created the illusion of more light. “If you took two identical rooms and lit one with all direct lighting coming from the ceiling and the other with a combination of direct and indirect lighting and both had the same foot-candle level on the desk,” Nolan says, “the one that includes both direct and indirect lighting is going to feel like a brighter space.”
Lighting Design Consultant JS Nolan + Associates Lighting Design
Client David and Lucile Packard Foundation
Electrical Contractor Redwood Electric Group (formerly Redwood City Electric)
Training for Net Zero
Achieving the ultimate green goal of net-zero energy took time and a team effort. “There’s a lot involved,” Nolan says. “The multiple types of control systems—dimming, daylight harvesting, and building energy-management systems—all have to talk to each other and integrate seamlessly.” A project like this, she says, can really fall apart once the client moves in if strategies are not put into place to properly manage the central systems. To ensure success, staff members from the Packard Foundation were heavily involved throughout the project. Also, representatives from the architectural firm are monitoring the project and metrics for a full year after completion to ensure that the employees are properly trained and all systems are calibrated correctly.
In the Offices
In the private offices around the perimeter, there are no visible light fixtures. Concealed, indirect luminaires were mounted in the tops of the millwork of the workstations to provide general illumination of 30 foot-candles with supplemental task lighting if needed. “There was a lot of concealed cove lighting and wall-grazing where you could see the effect of uplighting, but luminaires and light sources were concealed from view, allowing the architecture to take precedence,” Nolan says. Depending on the amount of daylight available, the electric lighting automatically dims up or down to a preset level. In the open offices and workstations, partitions were low and the ceilings were sloped and very detailed. Suspended linear pendant luminaires provided a 70 percent direct and 30 percent indirect light distribution to highlight the high, sloped ceilings and provide adequate light levels on the desks. Since there were no overhead cabinets in which to conceal them, accent and visible light fixtures became part of the design.
Certification LEED-NC Platinum (expected)
Power Density 35% below California Title 24
Lighting Management Integrated daylight harvesting, dimming, and building-automation systems
Behavioral Efforts Employee training to ensure goals are met
A wide variety of ceiling heights, both flat and sloped, added to the challenge of finding the perfect lighting treatments. Some ceilings were acoustical tile, while others were a combination of tile and other materials. Large chilled beams ran across the ceiling, but lighting couldn’t be incorporated into them because, in 2008, when JS Nolan was researching manufacturers that incorporated lighting into chilled beams, there weren’t any good options. Today, there are some lighting-integrated, chilled-beam options available, but they still have a long way to go, Nolan says.
Finding the Fixtures
To find the perfect lighting treatment for each location, JS Nolan looked at performance for high efficiency, good photometrics, and good glare control. Dozens of manufacturers were narrowed down by reviewing photometric test data from the Illuminating Engineering Society, then culled by who could provide the best distribution and efficiency. After that, Nolan says, it came down to extensive experience with the brands. Samples of almost every fixture on the project were ordered. Those that first met JS Nolan’s criteria were then presented to the client in a series of meetings, and a collective decision was made based on the preferred style and aesthetics. Eleven lamp types in all were chosen, including Ledalite for the offices and cove lighting, Peerless for the suspended linear pendant fixtures in the open plan offices, and A-light for the second-floor private offices.
Two parking lots across the streets to the north and east of the building also had some carefully considered light fixtures. Nothing off the shelf worked with the family of materials used in the building, so the parking lot lighting was customized to keep within the look and feel of the property. Local California manufacturer BK Lighting/Teka Illumination provided the low-level path lighting and decorative wall sconces on the exterior of the building. Shaper custom-built the bronze and copper wedge-shaped parking luminaires and bollards, which were used along the public sidewalk.