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Every company needs a spark. For the Sacramento Municipal District (SMUD), that spark was net-zero energy design. Envisioning a new operations center, SMUD leaders hoped to conserve energy use in their buildings while increasing the energy of their people. This efficient and inspiring campus is that vision realized.

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Energy saved

The amount of the district's estimated annual energy savings calculated in US dollars.

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Buildings' square footage

SMUD's buildings takes up about 16% of space on campus. The entire campus covers 51 acres (21 hectacres) of land and is equal to about 51 football fields.

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How SMUD ranks

SMUD is ranked sixth on the nation’s list of largest community-owned electric service providers.

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<p>For SMUD, getting a campus to offset its own energy relies on two things:&nbsp;technology and the weather. Five to six key technologies work together in a cooling system to make the building a comfortable place, but their roles and contributions can change depending on the forecast.&nbsp;</p> <p>On a hot summer day, the heat generated by people, and the electricity they use in outlets, appliances, and lights is&nbsp;collected by the cooling system and&nbsp;delivered to a special storage tank.</p> <p>When it cools off at night, the building removes the heat from the tank in two ways:</p> <p>1. By using a cooling tower the same way our bodies release heat by perspiring, and</p> <p>2. By releasing hot water into a buried pipe system known as a geothermal exchange field.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>The ground, still cold from the winter, decreases the water's temperature.</p> <p>Now what?</p> <p>The cooled water then goes to the building’s chiller. The chiller checks the weather forecast for the next day’s temperatures to determine just how cold the water should be. It then chills the water to the right temperature. Once chilled, the water gets moved to the storage tank.&nbsp;</p> <p>At 2 pm the next day when everyone’s air conditioner is running in Sacramento, the chiller will turn off&nbsp;to help minimize the energy load during this peak consumption period. The chilled water that was being stored in the tanks gets sent through a network of tubes in the concrete ceilings to cool the building.</p> <p>All the technologies together help create a comfortable workspace, with little to no impact on Sacramento’s utility grid. &nbsp;</p> <p>Clear as SMUD, right?</p>
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Before
After

Split it 50/50

Energy-efficient buildings are a balancing act between energy and people. For SMUD, our design team studied the physical building—and what people actually did inside it. We measured how they used every electrical outlet in their old offices and recommended systems and appliances that helped them reduce power use in the new spaces.

Before
After

A balancing act

Less light can lead to a bright idea. SMUD’s East Campus Operations Center uses low-wattage lighting that shuts off when people leave a room or when natural light is substantial. Also, special window shades and louvers project daylight into the workspaces while keeping the sun’s heat out.

WHERE WE HELPED, WHY WE'RE PROUD

“I helped measure how the buildings used electricity—before there were even buildings.”

Porus Antia Mechanical Lead

“I helped bring hot summer weather into the offices during chilly winters.”

Joe Tai Mechanical Engineer

“I helped technologies interact with each other like a team of soccer players on a field—all working toward the same goal.”

Jeff Rent Mechanical Engineer

“I helped people embrace change with cardboard boxes and creativity.”

Bret Harper Interior Design

“I helped create cool places for people to share ideas and talents.”

Stephanie Jackson Interior Design

“I helped lead a team of architects driven by energy.”

Christopher Wilson Architect

“I helped design a corporate campus that will be a model for utilities across the country.”

Arun Kalwar Project Manager

We're better together

Our work begins at the intersection of community, creativity, and client relationships. With a long-term commitment to the people and places we serve, we have the unique ability to connect to projects on a personal level and advance the quality of life in communities across the globe.

Christopher Wilson
Senior Principal, Architecture
Christopher Wilson
Senior Principal, Architecture

Leading my team to create vibrant and healthy places makes me feel like I’m contributing to the entire community.… Read More

Porus Sam Antia
Sustainable Building Specialist
Porus Sam Antia
Sustainable Building Specialist

I provide vision for the next generation of living and adaptive buildings, achieving harmony between the built environment and the natural world.… Read More

Bret Harper
Principal
Bret Harper
Principal

I consider hands-on involvement in the planning and design process vital to a project’s success.… Read More

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