HMC Architects was recognized for excellence in sustainable design at the San Diego Green Building Council (SDGBC) 2021 Sustainability Awards. The awards were presented at the annual event on October 14. Among the award-winning projects were civic and PreK-12 spaces that emphasize sustainable design strategies and enrich the communities they serve.

Honeybee Discovery Center

Registered LEED BD+C Merit Award

Considered the “Queen Bee Capital of North America,” Orland, California is the annual home of a million honeybee colonies, which pollinate the local almond groves. The Honeybee Discovery Center, a non-profit dedicated to educating the public, envisions a new high-performance building illustrating how development can alleviate the very problems that plague bees. Housed in a large indoor-outdoor shed, the Center provides an exhibit, an event space, and a public landmark shaped to be intelligent and memorable. The enclosed spaces are oriented east-west under an umbrella roof, which suits the needs of the different programs and performance goals. At the south entry, a low roof with a pollinator garden is tilted to be visible to arriving school buses but low enough to create a stable soil bed. The hovering garden keeps bees visible, but out of reach. Over the main hall, the angle of the roof is nearly ideal for solar exposure at this latitude, allowing photovoltaic arrays to generate power just over the site’s energy demand. Together, the solar array and the roof garden represent two kinds of photosynthetic roofs—artificial and natural. The project, currently in design, is pursuing net-zero-energy, net-zero water, LEED Platinum, and Living Building Challenge.

The County of San Diego North Coastal Live Well Health Center

Zero Net Energy Merit Award

HMC worked with the County of San Diego to design a beautiful and energy-efficient building that brings together aging and independence services, a military and veterans resource center, community health promotions, regional administration, public health services, and behavioral health services. The site enjoys plentiful Pacific Ocean breezes, so the project took a “passive first” approach to the design. The result is a beautiful building that generates more energy than it needs to operate with an energy use intensity (EUI) 75 percent less than the national average. The project is only the second LEED Platinum building in Oceanside and the first in nearly a decade. It is also the only net-zero public medical office in California.

City of San Clemente Marine Safety Headquarters

Most Efficient EUI Unbuilt Merit Award

The San Clemente Marine Safety Headquarters, built in 1968, is a familiar landmark on the Southern California coast. Located directly on the beach, it has fallen into disrepair, due to coastal erosion and harsh salt winds. Renovating the existing structure in its current location would be very expensive and still not align with modern standards, and rising sea levels and storm surges will increasingly threaten the property. To avoid this, the architects proposed using the equivalent budget to create a new public plaza on the bluff above the beach, in the area known as the “Pier Bowl.” The design takes advantage of topography by placing the new public safety facility, the administrative headquarters of the lifeguard corps, underneath a new public plaza. This move gives the staff uninterrupted views of the beach while significantly expanding and improving public space and amenities. Many of the facility’s functions, such as loading, maintenance, and storage, are unsightly and take up valuable public space, but the new design hides these functions below grade. Moving the facility to the bluff gives the beach back to the public, providing 20,000 square feet of new public space along the shore. On the bluff, extending the terrace outward increases the plaza area by 12 times and the linear footage of seating by 25 times, while maintaining the same amount of planted area. Cradled in the thermal mass of the earth, the new subterranean space will enjoy good natural light, passive ventilation, and extreme energy efficiency, with the building anticipated to use 87 percent less energy than average.

Portola High School

Metrics & Research Built Merit Award and Certified HPI/CHPS Merit Award

Surrounded by regional history and inspired by local geography, Portola High School in Irvine, California, is a twenty-first-century school where learning happens everywhere. With flexible open spaces, collaboration zones, and science and innovation labs, it looks and feels more like a college campus than a high school. The site rests on the edge of a new planned development surrounding the Great Park, formerly the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station. Classroom buildings are clustered to promote cross-collaboration between students, teachers, and different disciplines, with second-floor walkways connecting the learning clusters. By identifying multiple uses for spaces, HMC reduced the number of rooms built. This cost savings enabled the district to add a performing arts building with a 700-seat theater, aquatic center, and stadium in the initial construction phase rather than subsequent phases, which is more typical.

Floyd Farms Food Literacy Center

Social Equity Merit Award

A dream of the Food Literacy Program and Sacramento City USD for over a decade, Floyd Farms will house the program’s headquarters, a cooking classroom, and a farm where students and community members can actively practice the “Farm to Fork” philosophy. As an organization built around the tenets of health, wellness, and the environment, it was paramount that the headquarters reflected these same values while adhering to the non-profit’s tight budget. Fruits and veggies will be grown on-site and washed and prepared in the shade of the outdoor learning classroom. Meals are later prepared in the Net Zero Energy kitchen for healthy bodies and a healthy environment. The learning kitchen is anchored by a large demonstration counter and is surrounded by domestic cooking stations for kids to gain a hands-on kitchen experience. The building itself also functions as a learning tool where users actively observe on-site energy-conscious features in action. Solar panels, rainwater collection, operable windows and ceiling fans, and a holistic heating and cooling system are employed to reduce energy waste. As Sacramento City USD’s first project to pursue ZNE, the building will produce as much energy as it uses and is free from all fossil fuels.

At HMC, we aim to design healthy, resilient, sustainable spaces that enrich the lives of our communities. We share these awards with our wonderful clients and partners who allow us to continue designing solutions that enrich people’s lives. SDGBC is a community of over 250 members working together to create a better world through better buildings. Their annual awards program celebrates the people, projects, and innovations in the sustainability community. To learn more visit SDGBC’s website.