Watershed Resource Center Awards

Watershed Resource Center
Green Building Award
Santa Barbara Contractors Association

Community Environmental Council Resource Center
National Chrysalis Award--Best Commercial Remodel under $500,000
National Remodel Council

Watershed Resource Center
Savings by Design Award
California Chapter of the American Institute of Architects

Allen Associates was named 37th on the Qualified Remodeler Top 500 Companies
Received their special star recognition for environmentally friendly practices
Qualified Remodeler Magazine

South Coast Watershed Resource Center at Arroyo Burro Beach
Commercial Building Restoration
Santa Barbara Beautiful

Up close: Building better buildings.
For the past four years,

Except from: Community Environmental Council

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Dennis Allen, principal of Allen Associates, has been the recipient of the Santa Barbara Contractors Association’s Green Building Award. His long-standing relationship with CEC dates back to 1983, when he built our headquarters, the Gildea Resource Center.

“Up to that time, most of my green buildings were passive solar houses,” Allen says. “CEC gave me my first opportunity to build a larger green building.”

Allen’s practice and his green building portfolio have grown dramatically since those days. His firm now has “a basic menu of green technologies we apply to every building, whether the architect, or owner, requests them or not,” Allen says. “We only call a project ‘green’ if it pushes the envelope beyond those basic measures.”

CEC’s new Watershed Resource Center, located at Arroyo Burro Beach, “pushes the envelope” in virtually every area — from materials to lighting to landscaping.

Karen Feeney, CEC’s Community Programs Director, explains: “When the County asked us to create an educational center from an abandoned ranger station at Arroyo Burro Beach, we wanted to do it right. We wanted to ‘walk our talk,’ and demonstrate low environmental impact — in the siting, construction, landscaping, and operation of whatever building we created. In addition to teaching visitors about watershed ecology, we wanted the Center to serve as a model of green building technologies.”

“CEC gave us the goal of creating the greenest, most cost-effective building possible,” Allen continues. “By bringing us all together at the outset, we were able to come up with some exciting solutions.”

One of the more challenging aspects of the building’s construction was selecting materials that were not only “green,” but that also could withstand the harsh marine environment, characterized by salt-laden moisture in the morning, followed by scorching sun in the afternoon.

“We chose fiber-cement composite materials for the siding and roofing,” Allen says. “These are termite- and fire-resistant, impervious to moisture and sun damage, extremely durable, and cost about half the price of wood siding.”

The Center’s decking and two of its three staircases are of Nexwood, a composite product made of recycled grocery bags and cellulose fibers. Although similar to wood in texture and appearance, the plastic content makes Nexwood resistant to rot, moisture, and wood-boring insects. It does not require protection with potentially hazardous paints, stains, or sealers.

Another intriguing feature is the building’s photovoltaic panels, which are integrated into the roofing shingles. Located on the south-facing roof of the building, the shingles convert light energy into direct current, which is then converted to alternating current. The system generates 6,000 kW of electricity a year — about the amount needed to power a 2,000-square-foot home occupied by a family of four. Because the Center is so much more efficient than a standard residence, however, the photovoltaics produce excess electricity, which is fed back into the power grid.

Another innovation is the building’s integrated space- and water-heating system, which uses an on-demand — or tankless — water heater. In contrast to a conventional water heater, which continually uses energy to keep a tank of water hot, this heats water only as needed. It also supplies hot water to a heat exchanger, where air is drawn over the heated coil and warmed for distribution through the building. In addition to being very efficient, the system saved $15,000 in construction costs.

In fact, the owners of the neighboring Brown Pelican Restaurant were so impressed by the system that they have installed one of their own. This is precisely the kind of “ripple effect” the Center is expected to generate.

Allen has no doubt that it will. “The fact that this is a public building means it will have much more impact than most green buildings in the area, which, typically, are private residences. Plus, the Center is unique in that it demonstrates solutions applicable to both commercial and residential projects — because it is commercial in use, but residential in size.”

Already, dozens of builders, architects, planning commissioners, and elected officials have toured the site, some of them during this year’s “Parade of Green Buildings.” Allen himself says he plans to use several of the materials and techniques applied in the Watershed Resource Center in future construction projects — f or example, in eight new buildings at UCSB’s Sedgewick Natural Reserve — and he is aware of a project in Sandyland Cove that will incorporate technologies inspired by the Center.

One of them, Bill Hayward, CEO of Hayward Lumber, a leading supplier of green lumber and other building materials, told Allen, “I’ve visited green buildings in all of the Western states, and this is the most impressive I’ve seen.”

Community Environmental Council
930 Miramonte Drive • Santa Barbara, Calif. • 93109
(805) 963-0583 • Fax: (805) 962-9080

Allen Associates
1427 Tunnel Road, Santa Barbara, Ca 93105
Phone (805) 682-4305

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