Green Building Renovation

Jean Vollum Center, Portland

A Sustainably Renovated Building design…
in the heart of Santa Rosa’s historic downtown

The Arlene Francis Center for Spirit, Art, and Politics is located in the turn-of-the-century Sperry Flour Mill in Santa Rosa’s Railroad Square. Similar to the Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center in Portland, Oregon, our intention is to convert this historic brick and mortar building from conventional methods of heating, cooling, lighting and water use into a showcase for energy conservation and efficiency and, ultimately, energy self-reliance. We plan to renovate utilizing green building materials and techniques while maintaining the historic integrity of the building.

Our goal is to provide a model of sustainability and green building alternatives in Santa Rosa’s historic downtown, an area currently under development. Visitors will have the opportunity to take an educational “how-to” tour around and through the building. We hope that an energy efficient and green building showcase will positively influence development in Santa Rosa and downtown urban centers across the nation.

Green building both conserves energy and is energy efficient, has low short-term and long-term life-cycle costs, is healthy for its occupants, and has a low impact on the environment. Green building design is an all-inclusive philosophy, and such buildings are often the products of a team approach to the design of the building and its various systems. This whole-building philosophy considers site, energy, materials, indoor air quality, acoustics, natural resources, and how they are all interrelated. This design process also takes into consideration the interaction of the whole building structure and systems, and its context.

One way to balance these many issues is to use a comprehensive building rating system such as the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED™ (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System. The building receives a LEED score based on these issues. The Arlene Francis Center has set its renovation standard to LEED Gold.


Guiding principles:
• Create the design and do the work with whole systems in mind
• Preserve the best, repair the damaged and replace the destroyed
• Every voice is important
• Allow the story of the place to be vividly told
• Ask: “Is there a better way to do this task?” “How can it be better integrated, more adaptive, more strategic?” “Are there natural models or processes to apply?”
• Observation

Project Vision:
To create a campus that exemplifies the Arlene Francis Center’s mission of a just, sacred and sustainable world by integrating the best green building materials, practices and insights into a facility that inspires, welcomes, and serves as a model of possibility in an historic downtown core.

Project Goals and Values (partial list):
• Building remodel – inspired by both history and best current building practices
• Integrate the indoors and outdoors as much as is feasible/possible
• Pay close attention to environmental considerations referencing LEED criteria
• Save energy by insulation, high-performance windows, glazing, lighting, renewable
energy, energy-efficient equipment & proper installation
• Recycle as much of the existing building as possible. May also want to use as much
salvaged material from the same era in the redesign
• Select low-environmental impact materials and resource efficient materials
• Create the redesign with the desire to build community – welcoming, close to
transit center, enhanced student and public space
• Optimize design to maximize efficiency of spaces and materials
• Maximize longevity by designing for durability and adaptability
• Preserve and protect local ecosystem and biodiversity
• Design building and landscape to be water efficient (save rainwater, efficient
plumbing, groundwater recharge
• Develop project using a team approach
• Give strong preference to drought tolerant plants in the landscape

To realize the “greening” of the venue project, we are designing a remodel that incorporates the best practices and materials available in the green building field.

The process of renovation of this historic building will be completed in four phases:
Phase One: Green Remodeling Planning, Programming, Feasibility Studies & Conceptual Design
Phase Two: Fundraising (on-going)
Phase Three: Final Construction Documents
Phase Four: Renovation: Building the Green Arlene Francis Center
Phase Five: Educational Plaques for the “How-to” building tour citing “Green Building” features

Phase One: Green Remodeling Planning & Conceptual Design:
Programming & Feasibility Studies:
Phase Two: Fundraising (on-going)
Phase Three: Final Construction Documents
Phase Four: Construction
Phase Five: Educational signage: begins

The Arlene Francis Center for Spirit, Art, and Politics is situated on the corner of Sixth and Wilson Streets, an intersection that is an increasingly busy thoroughfare and a secondary north south artery, it is highly visible to the general public who pass by daily. The campus also sits adjacent to the proposed light rail line station, wine center and live/work building complex. The City of Santa Rosa is just embarking on a Green Building Program and could be further influenced to support these types of building strategies. With the increased densification of downtown and the prominent visibility of our site, we could impact and influence development in the downtown area and in other urban cores (as previously mentioned, an example of a historical and green renovation is found at in the Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center in Portland, Oregon). We envision the green renovation will be a model for energy conservation (and generation), human-healthy and environmentally friendly building materials, and how-to-do-it education. Along with our supporters and staff, the general public, developers, architects and city planners will be constituents served and influenced by this project. Future generations will perhaps benefit by the efforts of this project and projects like this that conserve resources and provide examples of a sustainable future.

Specific remodeling objectives include:
1) Redesign interior spaces for more effective educational use.
2) Add insulation to the roof (using sustainable materials)
3) Insulate interior walls (using sustainable materials)
4) Plaster interior walls with natural plasters
5) Develop external shading devices for western exposed walls, principally made of vegetative materials such as living vines that will provide shade and cooling in the summer and natural warmth in the winter as the plants drop their leaves.
6) Explore various strategies to increase wintertime solar gain including both passive and active solar systems
7) Explore the possibility of installing radiant floor system, which would be connected to a solar panel system for heating water
8.Install photovoltaic panels for generating electricity with an inter-tie system to pump extra electricity back into the grid (which would run our meter backwards). Included in this system would be a battery back-up system for energy blackouts
9) Create a water catchment system for capturing some of the water from winter rains and store it for use in summer months to water plants on the property
10) Create a demonstration container grey-water system to show how wastewater from the kitchen sink can be purified through a system of “living machines”. Living machines is a term coined to mean the use of biological materials (living plants) in a series or steps (from simple to complex) to remove toxic properties out of the water and purify the water for re-use.

%d bloggers like this: