Cargas Systems is a local, family run business in Lancaster that has sustainability woven throughout its culture. This culture starts from the top down with their innovative founder Chip Cargas. Chip believes in creating a workplace that is fun, environmentally friendly and is dedicated to customer service. From the early stages of planning, Chip and his team at Cargas were committed to incorporating sustainability into their office. Chip was primarily focused on energy savings, daylighting and a minimalist approach with materials. The envelope was designed to be highly insulated and allow for the maximum amount of daylight through skylights and large windows on the south face of the building. Also on the south face of the building are solar panel covered sunshades on the exterior and Trombe walls on the interior. In the winter, these trombe walls act as heat sinks and absorb the winter sun and radiate that heat throughout the interior space, reducing the cost of heating the building. In the summer months, the solar sunshade absorbs the sun before it enters the building.
The major design strategy which remained throughout the entire project was sustainability and comfort. Chip Cargas and his company (National Award Winning Business for Sustainability through the Green Plus Program) were dedicated to this process and implementing green strategies which made sense over the long term. Another unique aspect of the building which is truly sustainable is that the structure was built to easily add a second story in the future. The building was completely designed for vertical expansion to limit the impact to the surrounding area which is a fantastic concept.
Early in the design process, a charette was conducted to determine the LEED Credits which were both feasible and necessary to receive the High Performance Building Grant. Through the use of an energy model we were able to determine an approximate payback cost for using a variety of systems. The team compared using water source heat pumps, rooftop VAVs, and geothermal heat pumps. We finalized on using geothermal heat pumps. We submitted for and were approved for the high performance grant, which had us on track for LEED Platinum Certification. During the design-build phase, it became apparent that the cost for achieving the high performance building was more than the grant had to offer. The HVAC system was then revised to a water source heat pump (still highly efficient) with a roof top cooling tower and high efficiency gas boiler. The final outcome was a solid and very energy efficient LEED Silver building (nearing Gold Status) that was built both within budget and on schedule.
A very important design strategy that was included in the project was the inclusion of a 50 kw Solar Photovoltaic array. This array provides 20% of the electrical demand for the entire building which coupled with the 40% more efficient HVAC & Lighting system, reduces the overall building energy consumption by over 60%! This is a remarkable feat for a new building.
The construction process included many different aspects for the subcontractors involved. Training on LEED, the process, waste management, indoor air quality management and general green building practices. The end result was a team effort from all parties involved, including the ongoing training and education which is provided by Chip and his staff to various local organizations and schools.
Some Of The Unique Green Aspects Of The Building:
- 53 kw PV Solar Array which provides close to 20% of their annual energy
- Water source heat pump system for heating and cooling (Utility bills average $.20-.50/sf)
- Trombe walls to act as a heat sink inside the main windows of the building
- Highly Efficient Glazing with sun shades and blinds to control sunlight and heat
- Lighting control systems to dim entire areas when natural daylight is available
- Flexible design for vertical expansion in 5-10 years (can add a 2nd story)
- 100% Low VOC Materials
- Local materials were a focus
- Recycled content of materials was high (Over 20%)
- Custom bike rack and shower facilities (numerous employees bike to work!)
- Preferential parking for low emitting and high efficiency vehicles
Their new office building is located at the old site of the Lancaster Stockyards (contaminated site).
Check out some of the before photos here : http://www.behance.net/gallery/Lancaster-Stockyards/386610
Cargas is an innovative business focused on custom software and technology for a broad range of industries.
Learn more about their company here: http://www.cargas.com
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