Workbook: Green Means Go

edited899WestEvelyn_ReleaseFinal copyA green roof tops a new office building in Mountain View, California. It offers practical and pleasurable benefits for its tenants. Image courtesy Brick LLP.

A green roof can be a game-changer these days. That’s the takeaway when it comes to 899 West Evelyn, a new office building in Mountain View, California, designed by Rob Zirkle, the founder and principal of Brick, a Berkeley-based architecture firm. The project took shape right before the recession, and its green roof was a part of the design from the beginning. Once the economy picked up, and the building was back on track, the green roof became a major selling point for tenants. “It leveraged the sustainability agenda because of the storm water treatment element,” explains Zirkle. The quality-of-life piece also proved to be catnip to potential tenants: “It provides a unique experience with the outdoors not found in other office buildings.”

“We created a series of spaces that give form and character to different portions of the roof,” notes Zirkle. “Small groups can sit under the shade of trellis, there’s an area for all-hands meetings, an undulating lawn, space to watch movies and a bocce court.” Though it seems like a lot, a set of requirements substantially circumscribed what type of program the roof could support. Room for chillers and boilers, for example, took up a fair share of real estate as did the need to screen them from view. Some of the space had to be softscaped, some hardscaped. Even the wavy feel of the lawn was dictated by code restrictions—no more than 300 people can be on the roof at any one time, so the bumps make it less than desirable as a gathering space.

At the moment, Zirkle and company are at work on another project with a green roof. He predicts the trend will continue: “These will be on the agenda moving forward because of their functionality and because of the market.”

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