By Jim Phipps
In 2008, the Chandler City Council adopted a resolution establishing a Green Building Program that provides incentives to encourage the use of sustainable building practices by private sector builders. Additionally, the City resolved to construct “green” city buildings that conform to standards established by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). These standards, known as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), involve a rating system to evaluate the environmental performance of a building.
One of Chandler’s first public buildings to achieve LEED certification was Chandler City Hall, a modern, customer friendly, energy efficient and environmentally designed complex located at 175 S. Arizona Ave. The workplace “home” to more than 140 municipal employees, Chandler City Hall incorporates as many sustainability and energy efficiency features as possible to save long-term operations and maintenance costs.
The extensive use of glass in the six-story tower enables the “harvesting” of daylight, thus reducing the number of lights required for the building. Energy efficient windows and shading features help lessen heat absorption and power consumption. Office lights operate on motion sensors to reduce their use when areas are unoccupied and low energy LED lighting is used extensively throughout the complex.
For water efficiency, the HVAC system uses a cooling tower on the north side of the parking garage that serves multiple functions. Water from the air conditioning system appears as a waterfall as it drops to an enclosed basin where the reclaimed water is reused for irrigation and facility toilets.
The use of sustainable construction materials also was a priority for the City. Wood paneling made from fast-growing bamboo was used instead of lumber from trees. Interior walls snap into place, making them easy to rearrange or remove, thus eliminating the waste that would accompany the demolition of wood framed walls. The use of low-emitting adhesives, sealants, paints and flooring materials also minimized potential impacts on building occupants.
Among the more striking elements of the tower structure are the perforated stainless steel panels shading portions of the tower’s eastern and western face. Artist Ned Kahn was commissioned to create the shade screen, which he called “Turbulent Shade.” The 6-by- 21-inch panels move in waves with natural wind currents, reflecting sun rays away from the building and filtering natural light through office windows. Also, most windows have pull-down shade screens for employees to use as needed.
The complex features an open courtyard, a shaded terrace for special events and a breezeway supporting a pedestrian friendly design where visitors and employees can reach any part of the downtown square as well as the community center, library and other municipal buildings.
Chandler City Hall was designed by SmithGroup and constructed by Sundt Construction. It has received numerous awards, including an Environmental Excellence Crescordia Award from the Arizona Forward Association, a Top 10 Green Projects Award from the American Institute of Architects Committee on the Environment, and Best Government/Public Building Award and Project of the Year by Engineering News Record Magazine.
Jim Phipps is a City of Chandler employee who works on the top floor of Chandler City Hall and helps promote the City’s sustainability efforts.
Read more urban development articles at greenlivingaz.com/urban