AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects

Page Tools

Carnegie Institution of Washington Global Ecology Center
(Global Ecology Research Center)

This photo shows the lobby with its bi-fold doors open to passerby.
Photo credit: Peter Aaron / Esto Photographics


  • Location: Stanford, CA
  • Building type(s): Higher education, Laboratory, Campus
  • New construction
  • 10,900 ft2 (1,010 m2)
  • Project scope: 2-story building
  • Suburban setting
  • Completed March 2004

Global Ecology Research Center at Stanford University is an extremely low-energy laboratory and office building for the Carnegie Institution of Washington. The mission of the new Department of Global Ecology is to conduct basic research on the interactions between the earth's ecosystems, land, atmosphere, and oceans.

This project unified several buildings and activated spaces on a site that the Carnegie Institution has occupied since 1928, improving contact and circulation between two departments and creating an outdoor collaboration space.

This project was chosen as an AIA Committee on the Environment Top Ten Green Project for 2007. It was submitted by EHDD Architecture, in San Francisco, California. Additional project team members are listed on the "Process" screen.

Environmental Aspects

From the Global Ecology researchers' perspective, the most pressing environmental issues are global climate change, biodiversity, and water issues. The client encouraged the design team to reduce carbon impacts and address biodiversity and water issues while providing laboratory and research spaces that meet the highest standards of comfort and performance. This focus resulted in a 72% reduction in carbon emissions associated with building operation and a 50% reduction in embodied carbon for building materials.

Proper orientation, exceptional daylighting, sunshading, and natural ventilation set the stage for innovative mechanical systems. A "night sky" radiant cooling system demonstrates the same principles of radiant heat loss to deep space in which the researchers are investigating. An evaporative katabatic (downdraft) cooling tower serves as an iconic focal point, while tempering an indoor/outdoor lobby and collaboration space.

The team also aggressively pursued habitat- and water-conservation goals. The exterior wood cladding is salvaged wine-cask redwood, the interior wood and veneers are FSC-certified domestic ash, tables in the conference room and lobby were made from trees salvaged from a nearby municipal yard, workstation tabletops were made from salvaged doors, and recycled aggregate substituted for about 20% of site concrete aggregate. Water use is reduced by one-third through no-irrigation landscaping, dual-flush toilets, a waterless urinal, and low-flow sinks.

Owner & Occupancy

  • Owned and occupied by Carnegie Institution of Washington, Corporation, nonprofit
  • Typically occupied by 50 people, 30 hours per person per week; and 15 visitors per week, 2 hours per visitor per week

Due to the nature of the research program, flexibility over the short and long term was of utmost importance. Because researchers divide their time equally between field, office, and lab work, all spaces allow for the expansion and contraction of research teams and informal sharing of space.

Building Programs

Indoor Spaces:

Laboratory (40%), Office (30%), Lobby/reception (8%), Conference (7%), Restrooms (7%), Data processing (5%), Mechanical systems (3%)

Outdoor Spaces:

Restored landscape (50%), Patio/hardscape (25%), Pedestrian/non-motorized vehicle path (10%), Parking (10%), Drives/roadway (5%)


Integrated team, Simulation, Green specifications, Commissioning, Performance measurement and verification, Indigenous vegetation, Stormwater management, Efficient fixtures and appliances, Efficient irrigation, Drought-tolerant landscaping, Massing and orientation, Glazing, Passive solar, HVAC, Lighting control and daylight harvesting, Efficient lighting, On-site renewable electricity, Adaptable design, Durability, Benign materials, Salvaged materials, Recycled materials, Local materials, Certified wood, C&D waste management, Connection to outdoors, Daylighting, Natural ventilation, Ventilation effectiveness, Thermal comfort, Low-emitting materials

next topic:
Go to next topic: Process

Last updated: 4/23/2007

Our thanks to the ENERGY STAR program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and to the U.S. Department of Energy, and to BuildingGreen, Inc. for hosting the submission and judging forms.

For more information about the AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects, contact AIA/COTE. For help on how to use this Web site, contact .

Footer Navigation

Copyright & Privacy

  • © The American Institute of Architects
  • Privacy