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C.R.E.A.M. (Carbon Rules Everything Around Me)
San Diego, California
Competition Entry for the ASHRAE Lowdown Showdown with Jason Lackie, Zachary Stevens, Audrey Ng, Kristy Kwong, Xinxin Hu, Mohammad Abbasi, Joelle Jahn

Winner: First Place
Winner: Fan Favorite

The ASHRAE competition called for a new 90,000 square foot City Hall for San Diego that could also function as an Emergency Operation Center (EOC) in case of a natural or man-made disaster. The competition brief required a focus on net zero energy, resiliency, and health and wellness. In addition, the team added their own criteria by seeking to reduce the embodied carbon of the structure through the use of mass timber construction.

The San Diego climate is comfortable but blocking solar radiation is critical to maintain occupant comfort conditions and minimize cooling energy use. The design organized the building program around a central courtyard, staggering floors to provide self-shading. A massive PV array spans the courtyard, generating more energy than the building uses annually while providing shade for the interior facade and the outdoor spaces.

Porous openings in the walls of the courtyard allow light and ventilation into the interior, while creating terraces that provided flexible outdoor working spaces on every floor, enhancing occupant connection with nature. The plantings around the courtyard and on the terraces create biophilic elements that can be viewed on every level of the building. Narrow floor plates enhance daylight and natural ventilation, both saving energy but also allowing the building to function for longer on battery power in the case of an emergency.

Aggressive water saving features were also implemented with low flow fixtures, a recirculating shower technology developed by NASA engineers, and rainwater collection from the roof of the parking structure.