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Net-Zero Timber Building Showcase for Sustainability

8 August 2023

A new government office building under construction in San Mateo County, in California’s Silicon Valley region, promises to be the nation’s first net-zero-energy civic structure made from mass timber. A net-zero building is designed to generate more energy than it consumes.

Environmental focus – Designed as “a testament to environmental stewardship,” the new building targets Platinum certification under the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system. 

Although founded on a concrete slab and deep concrete piles — with four steel cores and steel braced frames as its lateral support system — mass timber is used for its columns, beams, and flooring. As a result, the building features an estimated 70% reduction in embodied carbon compared with a similar structure made entirely of steel or concrete. The building is I-shaped in plan, with narrow wings that measure 65 ft wide to facilitate natural ventilation and natural lighting throughout, reducing the facility’s energy footprint.

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