Water works in Watsonville

26 Apr 2010

City of Watsonville Water Resources Center named AIA/COTE top ten green project

The American Institute of Architects’ Committee on the Environment (AIA/COTE) named the City of Watsonville Water Resources Center as a Top Ten Green project for 2010, announced Pauline Souza, AIA, LEED AP, partner at San Francisco-based WRNS Studio, which designed the facility.

The Watsonville Area Water Resources Center supports the Water Recycling Project, a joint effort of the City of Watsonville and the Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency to provide recycled water to farmers throughout the coastal areas of South Santa Cruz and North Monterey counties. Groundwater in the Pajaro Valley is being consumed more quickly than it can be replenished, causing saltwater to intrude into coastal wells. By treating wastewater for the $400 million local agricultural industry, the Water Recycling Project recharges the aquifer and significantly reduces wastewater discharges into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

Designed to achieve LEED Platinum, the Water Resources Center is a functional, educational, and visual extension of the water recycling plant it supports, consolidating three different city and county water departments into a workspace designed to foster collaboration on issues of water management, conservation, and quality in the Pajaro Valley. The building incorporates administrative offices, a regional command center, and a water quality lab. In addition, the building, its systems, and its surrounding land educate the public through exhibitions and guided tours on the issues of water, energy management, and air quality.

The building’s green design elements are nearly all tied to water. The water feature relies on recycled water. The radiant floor uses water in a closed-loop system to heat and cool the building. Low-flow plumbing fixtures conserve water and drought-tolerant native landscaping do not depend on potable water. The building’s rain screen cladding system incorporates California redwood owned by the city and slated for fire hazard clearance. Custom-milled eight miles from the project site, the redwood will withstand coastal area saltwater and develop a brown-grey patina, helping the facility blend in with its surroundings. Other sustainable elements include low-VOC materials, high-efficiency lighting, and an energy-saving mixed-mode mechanical system that incorporates natural ventilation through operable windows.

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