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Downtown Sacramento building aims for gold standard of green

The Arch Nexus office building at 930 R Street in downtown Sacramento aims to win Living Building Challenge certification for sustainability from the International Living Future Institute, which has offices in Seattle and Portland.
The Arch Nexus office building at 930 R Street in downtown Sacramento aims to win Living Building Challenge certification for sustainability from the International Living Future Institute, which has offices in Seattle and Portland. Special to The Bee: Josh Allred

A Sacramento architectural design firm will host formal grand opening ceremonies Thursday at its newly renovated building along the R Street corridor, with hopes that the structure will be certified a world leader in sustainability a year from now.

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and city Councilman Steve Hansen are among those scheduled to attend the 9:30 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony at the 8,200-square-foot Arch Nexus building at 930 R St.

Arch Nexus is short for Architectural Nexus Inc. – which also has an office in Salt Lake City. The local building is dubbed Arch/Nexus SAC.

Over the course of a year, what was once a warehouse has been converted into an 8,200 square-foot nucleus of sustainability, with composters, cisterns, solar panels and eye-popping architectural touches that double as ultra-green systems.

About 25 employees moved into the building at the close of 2016, and over the next year, the company’s goal is to win Living Building Challenge certification from the nonprofit International Living Future Institute, which has offices in Seattle and Portland.

The institute’s living building certification program, formed in 2006, is considered far more rigorous than the well-known Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program developed by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Currently, only 11 buildings in the world have living building certification, according to Arch Nexus spokesman Brian Cassil.

“Certification is based on performance,” Cassil said. “You have to prove that you are generating more energy than you’re using and treating all the water on-site.”

Cassil said that said the clock started ticking on the yearlong certification process on Jan. 15. A third party will evaluate the R Street building’s various green systems. If the downtown building meets the institute’s standard, certification could come early next year. He said that would make the Arch Nexus building the first in California to receive living building certification.

One of the most striking features of the building is an extensive “living wall” of plant life stretching through the lobby.

Cheryl McMurtry, business development associate at Arch Nexus, explained that it’s literally plant growth growing out of the wall … an important part of the performance as wastewater gets treated on-site.”

The plant wall’s water source is primarily derived from sinks and drinking fountains. On-site composters help treat water from toilets.

Cassil said solar panels can provide more than 100 percent of the building’s energy needs, and cisterns store water from the roof, which is treated for other uses throughout the building.

Kenner Kingston, Arch Nexus president, said the company will seek LEED’s top-tier platinum certification and certification from the Social Economic Environmental Design network.

Mark Glover: 916-321-1184, @markhglover

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