Dreyfuss & Blackford Architects (D&B), located in Sacramento, California, was a runner-up in the Energy Star 2010 National Building Competition. Many of D&B’s projects incorporate innovative and efficient building design. Initially, the energy practices D&B advocated to clients and incorporated into their projects were not reflected in their own office space: a two-story building in downtown Sacramento. This building was designed by the firm’s founders and built in 1965. Today, it houses a staff of thirty. As energy efficiency was not a top priority when the building was designed and built, D&B found many potential energy-saving projects such as replacing old windows and doors, obsolete lighting fixtures as well as the cooling and heating systems.
To improve their efficiency, D&B formed “DB Green” in 2007. DB Green is a group of D&B employees that meets monthly to plan and execute the energy-saving renovations for the office building. DB Green analyzed the office building and made recommendations for change. They noted that one surprising obstacle was inertia: it was hard to create momentum for internal work that naturally took a back seat to client-driven projects. The team turned to the ENERGY STAR website for resources to chart a path forward. DB Green worked from the Energy Star Special Offers and Rebates lists to purchase Energy Star products to replace outdated kitchen appliances. The Energy Star Building Upgrade Manual and Guidelines for Energy Analysis helped cost out potential upgrades: both initial costs as well as the net present value expected over the lifetime of each upgrade.
D&B hired several consultants to implement the recommendations and actions from their planning which included: Edward J. Cansino Lighting Design, Lutron, Inc. and Frank M. Booth, Inc. Edward J. Cansino Lighting Design and Lutron, Inc. who provided guidance for lighting, automated shades, and integrated controls; Frank M. Booth, Inc. for mechanical upgrades.
As a first step, the entire ceiling and lighting system was replaced. The new lighting is an integrated system that uses daylight sensors, occupancy sensors, and an astronomical time clock. It has electronic dimming ballasts powering T-5 lamps; the lumen levels are tuned to maximize the benefit of the new bright-white ceiling. To control glare and heat-gain, automated roller-shades are integrated with lighting controls. Existing incandescent recessed down lights were replaced with compact-fluorescent models. After the ceiling was removed, roof insulation was added and an improved air flow system installed. Additionally, the roof was cleaned, vapor-retarded, and inspected for maximum benefit.
Secondly, Frank M. Booth, Inc. designed and implemented mechanical system improvements. The compressor and cooling coils were replaced with high-efficiency Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER)-rated equipment. Additionally, all components were thoroughly cleaned, lubricated, and adjusted and new high-flow filters were installed. A new multi-stage time clock was wired into the system to facilitate orderly shutdown and restart.
In addition to lighting and mechanical upgrades, D&B implemented many smaller-scale changes. These include:
The results of the changes DB Green implemented reduced electricity consumption by 32% and natural gas by 35%. The changes made at D&B inspired employees to make personal commitments to energy efficiency as well. Many of them bike to work and they worked together to plant a vegetable garden on-site. As one employee writes, “Our office is now a sort-of research lab where we can demonstrate to our clients and consultants our internal dedication to the principals of sustainability and efficiency.”