SunPower's sustainable headquarters

05 Sep 2012

Valerio Dewalt Train Associates transforms three single-storey buildings to provide SunPower Corporation with a new HQ

Valerio Dewalt Train Associates and SunPower Corporation, a provider of solar cells and panels, have completed the latter's headquarters, situated in three existing single-storey concrete tilt-up buildings in San Jose. They have transformed the grounds and buildings with photovoltaics and cutting-edge product development technology while enhancing opportunities for creative interaction among employees and adhering to a strict budget.

The 185,000 sq ft project has provided office space for approximately 500 employees with open workstations, private offices, and conference rooms. The facility also includes a fitness centre, a full-service cafeteria, a corporate training centre, and a customer briefing centre. One of the three buildings houses a research and development laboratory with a class 1,000 clean room and flexible general lab space for lab benches and testing equipment. Design/construction costs were kept to $80/sq ft.

To encourage interaction between employees, the ratio of open workstations to private offices is 80/20, and the 6' x 8' workstations are only 30 inches high. To break up the spacious interiors, ‘cork clouds’ were introduced to the design, sub-ceilings that define neighbourhoods of workstations within the overall space, which has 14ft-high ceilings. Collaboration areas are placed between open workstation areas and encircled with wooden posts below lighted panels.

The designers provided imagery of completed SunPower’s product installations for environmental graphics intended to enliven the walls of conference rooms, the customer briefing centre, and the lobby. The addition of skylights throughout the office space bring plenty of daylight, and walls within the space alternate 5ft sections of glazed and solid walls to enhance visibility and allow daylight to penetrate.

The project looks to achieve a LEED-CI Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. To assist their aim, sustainable strategies including low-flow plumbing fixtures; bio-swales in the courtyard that treat stormwater runoff; and an area with bicycle storage, changing rooms, and showers to encourage employees to bike to work have been incorporated in the design. The building’s rooftop was modified to include photovoltaic panels, which are also placed on top of the new carport structures.

Samantha Morley

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