In a California political environment built on give-and-take, it’s only fitting that the state’s Department of General Services managed to build a new structure that was designed to make an even trade with the environment.
Completed last November and opened to the public in January 2022, DGS’ 472,000-square-foot building at 1021 O St. was designed to be what’s known as a zero-net-energy structure, meaning that it produces as much energy as it uses. For a 10-story building that will temporarily house more than 1,200 legislative and executive branch government workers ultimately earmarked for a permanent home at the new Capitol Annex Building when it’s completed in a few years, the process is not as simple as it sounds.
First, the $432.6 million building, which sits on a 1-acre site that was previously a parking lot, has been designed to use about one-third of the energy typically required in a comparably sized structure. Much of the energy savings was achieved with the building’s exterior mix of precast concrete and multipaned insulated glass as well as sunshades, all of which minimize lighting, heating and cooling requirements. The building, which also strategically cycles in outside air, requires no natural gas because it’s all-electric.
Additionally, 1021 O St., which includes four public-hearing rooms and a press room, is one of many state-owned properties in Downtown Sacramento subject to an agreement with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, where the building is powered off-site by one of SMUD’s solar-energy farms about 40 miles southeast of Sacramento.
Moreover, DGS attempted to further reduce the building’s environmental footprint by procuring items such as concrete, ceiling tiles and carpeting that contained a high content of recycled materials.
“It doesn’t take a lot of energy to heat and cool the building,” said Joel Griffith, the DGS’ capital outlay program manager, who added that DGS’ goal is for the building to be certified within the highest-performing Platinum level by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. “I think this building will age well.”
The building’s sleek profile also belies many of the challenges DGS had to overcome to build it. Working with general contractor Hensel Phelps and architects HOK and Dreyfuss + Blackford, DGS had to address recurring air-quality issues from nearby wildfires since breaking ground in 2019. With the additional impact of Covid-19 and local protests in the wake of the George Floyd murder in 2020 as well as ensuing labor and supply shortages, both Griffith and Jason Kenney, deputy director of the California Department of General Services’ real estate service division, say that finishing the building on time and within budget was a major accomplishment.
“It’s got to be a very accessible, transparent building, yet safe and secure,” added Kenney. “To build that in the pandemic during some pretty crazy wildfire situations and be able to navigate with all of our partners through their important needs for public engagement, it was a hell of a lift.”