Green Buildings of San Mateo County

Jasper Ridge Field Station

jasper ridge external view

The Leslie Shao-ming Sun Field Station at Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve is the commercial winner for the First Green Building Award in the County. This building is owned by Stanford University and was designed by architect Rob Wellington Quigley, San Diego and built by W.L. Butler Construction, Inc., Redwood City.

David Schnee, a local architect (Group 4 Architecture Research + Planning) and one of the three judges for the award, said "The Jasper Ridge Field Station demonstrates that beauty and environmental responsiveness can go hand in hand. The building form responds to daylighting and photovoltaics in a fresh and harmonious way. The extensive use of salvaged materials such as bricks from Jane Leland Stanford's residence and the bathroom partitions from the old chemistry building give this very new design a timeless link to the past."

jasper ridge entrance

This beautiful building is located in Unincorporated San Mateo County (with a Woodside address) and is an excellent example of sustainable practices in choosing materials to build from. The design/build/owner team has set a high benchmark for future green building awards!

Dr. Philippe Cohen, the Administrative Director of the Jasper Ridge Field Station described the process of designing the building, "The guiding principle of sustainability emerged from the growing recognition that, sooner or later, what we discard makes its way back to us. One of our objectives was to be sure that when it comes back it is useful and harmless. With this in mind, we incorporated ways to make the by-products of one activity the raw materials and resources for another. One example of this was the use of flyash to replace half the cement employed in the concrete. At Jasper Ridge, we are trying to assure that the price paid for the Preserve's new building is not one more frayed strand in the web of life.

jasper ridge solar panels

It is rare when a project comes along that promotes a legacy of world-class research and education in the field sciences also provides a tangible example of how to meet our needs without compromising the prospects of future generations. It is our sincere hope that this project will help us move toward a time when stewardship of our natural heritage is not an extraordinary effort, but a core element of how we live our lives."

In addition to having a building that fits in beautifully with the surrounding natural environment, some of the outstanding green features of this building include:

Green materials:

  • High fly ash concrete. This significantly reduced cement content in the concrete. Fly ash is a waste product, further reducing the waste stream. Manufacture and use of cement is responsible for about 8% of global carbon emissions.
  • Recycled newsprint for wall insulation.
  • Salvaged redwood for exterior siding.
  • 120 year-old bricks at main and rear entrance salvaged from Jane Leland Stanford's residence on the main Stanford University campus.
  • Salvaged or re-used casework and building furnishings.
  • Bathroom partitions salvaged from 1902 Old Chemistry Building on Stanford University campus.

Building Systems:

  • 22kW grid-connected photovoltaic system makes building net producer of electricity. As a result, the building achieves its goal of net zero carbon emissions for annual electrical consumption. You can view the energy monitoring system and the photovoltaic output in charts and data on their Energy Performance Page.
  • Solar collector system for winter heating. Solar collectors also pitched to provide shading over south facing glass, contributing to the passive cooling of the building.
  • Passive cooling system so only one room in the building (herbarium/biological collections) uses air conditioning.
  • Daylighting meets majority of daytime lighting needs. North facing light monitors to provide diffuse, and ergonomically superior north light.

Other Design Features:

  • Site selection included: good solar access and orientation; no loss or impact on significant habitat; no archaeological resources at risk; setback at least 250 feet from a water source (lake or creek).
  • Construction site management included fencing to prevent any work under the drip line of mature oaks. Hence, no mature oaks damaged or lost during construction. In addition, a snag that is also an acorn woodpecker granary was preserved near the building.
  • Engineered with no load-bearing walls and other features that reduce total lumber and steel materials used. This also allows for easy renovation of interior design, if needed.
  • Designed to harvest rainwater for storage and use in a 25,000 gallon cistern.
  • Operable windows in all occupied spaces.
  • Full spectrum fluorescent lights and high efficiency electronic ballasts were used in all lighting.
  • Roof insulated from the exterior side to reduce thermal leaks and increase efficiency. The increased efficiency helps make air conditioning unnecessary for over 90% of the interior building space.
  • High performance glazing to maximize daylighting while also providing energy efficient insulation (Heat Mirror glass from Southwall Technology).
  • Waterless urinals.
  • All appliances Energy Star rated for energy efficiency.
  • Tankless water heater for domestic hot water.
  • Native landscaping, including cuttings of honeysuckle being used for vines and shading on the trellis on the south side of the building.

Project Team:
Jasper Ridge Staff -Philippe Cohen, Nona Chiariello, Cindy Wilber
Capital Management & Planning-Laura Goldstein, Ted Geising
Architect-Rob Wellington Quigley,
FAIA (Catherine Herbst)
General Contractor-W. L. Butler Construction (Mark Vonholle, Cary Tronson)
Structural Engineer-EndresWare
Mechanical Design/Build-CalAir, Inc.
Electrical Design/Build-Redwood City Electric
Environmental Consultants-Lynn Simon, David Gottfried, Alan Daly