Packard Foundation Plans Eco-friendly Expansion

Posted on March 23, 2010 by  
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With conservation one of their chief concerns, officials with the Los Altos-based David and Lucile Packard Foundation are taking great care to lead by example with plans for their new 45,000-square-foot office building on Second Street.

The two-story building, across from the current headquarters at 300 Second St., will employ an extreme-green philosophy, featuring net-zero energy efficiency. The goal, according to foundation president Carol Larson and vice president Chris DeCardy, is a building as environmentally friendly as possible – right down to rainwater runoff from the building that would water plants rather than spill into the street. Larson said 95 percent of the existing buildings’ materials would be recycled.

“We’re helping (the downtown) with this new building,” DeCardy said.

Added Larson: “We want it to be a place for the future while fitting into the past.”

Packard officials hope to receive city go-ahead by midyear and break ground by December. They said they anticipate the new building would be open for business by summer 2012.

Since the Packard board of directors decided to move forward with the building last December, Larson, DeCardy and other Packard officials have held meetings with city leaders and the public to tout their building’s benefits. The latest was a Community Conversation with members of the general public, scheduled March 9 at foundation headquarters.

Construction is likely to be painstaking, given Packard’s ambitious goals in creating a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum Certified building, the highest possible green certification. Larson said plans call for smaller offices and more “common space.”

“We’re driving our employees to be in better contact with each other,” Larson said.

Meeting space, videoconferencing and high-tech improvements also will be among the features.

The new building, designed to accommodate the foundation over the next 40 years, has capacity for 124 employees, Larson said, although she imagines the foundation will not need that many. The 45-year-old foundation, active in 10 countries and focused on some of the planet’s most pressing problems, currently has 100 employees.

To make way for the new building, the

existing buildings on Packard-owned land bordered by Whitney and Second streets and San Antonio Road will be deconstructed, Larson and DeCardy said, further reflecting the green approach. Instead of demolition, Packard will have crews tear down the old buildings piece by piece. Deconstruction could start as soon as this month, they said.

Larson emphasized Packard’s commitment to staying in Los Altos and that the foundation is proud to call it home.

“People are proud of it being here, and we’re grateful for that,” she said. “We want Los Altos to continue being the exemplary community it already is.”

Note: This is a slightly edited version of a recent article featured in the Los Altos Town Crier.

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