• Credit: Weber Thompson

Many companies look to reduce their energy footprint by scaling back their use of air conditioning, but the staff of Seattle architecture firm Weber Thompson has taken it a step further. With the design of its new office building, the firm has challenged traditional notions of comfort by doing away with traditional air conditioning. The 40,000-square-foot (3716-m²) Terry Thomas received the third-place award in the “ecommercial” category of eco-structure’s inaugural Evergreen Awards. “I am very impressed with and encouraged by the natural-ventilation approach for this project,” says Ralph DiNola, a principal at Portland, Ore.-based Green Building Services Inc., and one of the judges of this year’s Evergreen Awards.

“Many developers and building owners are reluctant to implement such a significant move away from artificial cooling, but this is certainly one key step toward significant energy savings.” Passive cooling, which was one of the project’s major design goals, was achieved by using a number of strategies in tandem. Operable windows work in concert with automated louvers. A shallow floor plate enables effective airflow and a central courtyard acts like a chimney, drawing warmer air out. Together, these elements create a system that intends to reduce energy use by 30 percent compared with a comparable office building constructed to code. Although the Terry Thomas still is in its first year of operation, thermal and natural ventilation modeling show the internal temperature only will rise to more than 80 F (27 C) for 18 to 20 hours per year. Daylighting is another important element in the design of the Terry Thomas. Sensors measure the amount of sunlight coming into the space and adjust the fluorescent lighting accordingly to maintain acceptable levels of light. Smart blinds adjust automatically to sunlight levels. Glass sunshades reduce heat gain while allowing natural light into the space.

  • Credit: Weber Thompson

Using these strategies reduces the wattage per square foot in the building by 35 percent compared with a traditional office. Although energy and comfort were clearly at the center of the design of this innovative structure, many other sustainable considerations also were taken into account. The site is in a dense urban setting with numerous amenities and public transportation within walking distance.

Low-flow fixtures, toilets and urinals, as well as a storm-water drainage system, are part of a waterconservation plan that seeks to use approximately 50 percent less water than a standard building of its size. Ultimately, the Terry Thomas is a reflection of its tenants. Weber Thompson’s staff offsets the carbon emissions it generates from travel and has active recycling, composting and bike-to-work programs. This kind of synergy between natural, built and human elements provides an all new paradigm of what an office can be.


CASTELLATED STEEL BEAMS / SmartBeam from R.F. STEARNS, West Linn, Ore., www.rfstearns.com

METAL STUDS / SCAFCO STEEL STUD MANUFACTURING CO., Spokane, Wash., www.scafco.com/stud

WALL PANELS / Pinnacle 440 from HOMASOTE CO., West Trenton, N.J., www.homasote.com

ROOF MEMBRANE / UltraPly TPO from FIRESTONE BUILDING PRODUCTS, Indianapolis, www.firestonebpco.com

WINDOW WALL / Tri-Fab VG 451T from KAWNEER, Norcross, Ga., www.kawneer.com

GLAZING / PPG INDUSTRIES INC., Pittsburgh, www.ppg.com EXTERIOR VENETIAN BLINDS / EL 80 AS from NYSAN SOLAR CONTROL, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, www.hunterdouglascontract.com/nysan

AUTOMATED LOUVERS / EAC louver/damper from GREENHECK, Schofield, Wis., www.greenheck.com

HYDRONIC RADIATORS / Solidoflux N from BUDERUS HYDRONIC SYSTEMS, Londonderry, N.H., www.buderus.net


ARCHITECT / Weber Thompson, Seattle, www.weberthompson.com /

OWNER AND DEVELOPER / First Western Development, Seattle, (425) 329-0848 /

GENERAL CONTRACTOR / Rafn Co., Bellevue, Wash., www.rafn.com /

MECHANICAL ENGINEER AND THERMAL MODELING / Stantec Consulting, Seattle, www.stantec.com /

CIVIL AND STRUCTURAL ENGINEER / DCI Engineers, Bellevue, www.dci-engineers.com /

DAYLIGHT MODELING / University of Washington Integrated Design Lab, Seattle, www.daylightinglab.com