Named for the scientist whose research first alerted the world to the possibility of the human impact on global atmospheric carbon, the Charles David Keeling Apartments employ a variety of tactics to address environmental challenges such as stormwater management, water scarcity, and carbon emissions reductions.

Located on the edge of the UC San Diego campus, overlooking the coastal cliffs of La Jolla, Calif., the C-shaped dwelling provides expansive views and offers student housing close to the core academic buildings. The project team of Philadelphia-based KieranTimberlake and locally based Swinerton Inc. capitalized on the site’s favorable environmental features, while moderating or eliminating undesirable ones. To optimize the cooling effect and negate the need for air conditioning, the building mass and window openings were shaped and sized to best capture ocean breezes based on landscape-scale CFD modeling. By relying on natural ventilation, project planners estimated that they saved 38 percent in energy consumption.

Jury: “This is an example of a relatively large-scale student dormitory that had an opportunity to really break some important ground in terms of water performance and an on-site black- and graywater treatment facility. … This was buttressed with having a business case that showed that the cost of doing on-site water treatment was actually less expensive than the conventional approach to plug into the grid. That is quite compelling in terms of the pattern of connectedness to utilities that we really need to be viewing as the future for our utility and resource dependency.”

An extensive network of integrated shading and railing panels and highly efficient low-E glass on the western façades helps to moderate solar radiation, while exterior walkways on the south and west provide additional protection. Mechanical heating is supplied by a localized arrangement of individually controlled radiant panels. A PV array funded through a local utility lease agreement supplies 6 percent of the building’s total energy.

KieranTimberlake addressed water scarcity through a comprehensive strategy of conservation and reuse, including water-efficient landscaping, efficient plumbing fixtures, low-flow toilets, and on-site wastewater recycling—a first for California’s university system. Designers were able to control the amount of stormwater that flows into the Pacific Ocean using a system of landscape bioswales and retention basins that reduces water quantity, delays peak water flow, and controls flooding. In addition, a vegetated roof absorbs and evaporates rain that falls on that portion of the building, with overflow directed to courtyard retention basins. Within the basins and bioswales, native vegetation slows runoff, allowing sediment and pollutants to settle before water leaves the site.

Stephen Kieran, FAIA, and James Timberlake, FAIA, partners, KieranTimberlake: “The most significant reduction of energy comes from using natural cooling instead of mechanical systems. The design incorporates single-loaded corridors, exterior walkways, operable windows, and a building orientation aligned to best capture cooling breezes from the Pacific Ocean. Heating efficiencies are achieved by thermal mass, and by an innovative backwards-constructed rainscreen and air barrier exterior wall that reduces heat loss and water vapor infiltration. Any necessary mechanical heating is provided by radiant panels. Lighting energy demand is largely met by daylighting, complemented in public spaces with occupancy-controlled lighting systems.” 

The owner and the design team will monitor energy and water use and conduct a post-occupancy evaluation of occupant satisfaction, with the goal of applying the lessons from the project’s many pilot features to other building projects.

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Building gross floor area:
147,000 square feet
Estimated percent of occupants using public transit, cycling, or walking: 100
Percent of views to the outdoors: 98
Percent of spaces within 15 feet of an operable window: 90
Percent reduction of regulated potable water: 37
Potable water used for irrigation: No
Percent of rainwater from maximum anticipated 24-hour, two-year storm event that can be managed on site: 100
Total EUI (kBtu per square foot per year): 31
Net EUI (kBtu per square foot per year): 29
Percent reduction from national average EUI for building type: 54
Lighting power density (watts per square foot): 0.61
Third-party rating: LEED Platinum
Total project cost at time of completion (land excluded): $46 million

Data and project information provided by KieranTimberlake via AIA COTE Top Ten entry documents.