Yet many people go to work, sometimes in flip-flops and shorts, only to sit in a climate-controlled comfort zone.
Local designers have tried to convince clients to work otherwise. It seems like an uphill battle.
Some–but not many– have had better luck with their own offices. Many of them live in historic buildings designed before air conditioning became a necessity in our temperate city (like Mithun’s office at Pier 56). Fewer strive to recreate those principles in new buildings.
Most recent of the latter group is Weber Thompson’s new office building at Terry and Thomas in South Lake Union, shown in the two images here. (Yep, it’s Weber Thompson now, they got rid of the + between the names.)
Principals there said employees wanted natural ventilation and copious amounts of daylighting above all else.
The building has operable windows and louvers that draw heat out. A courtyard in the center is designed as a thermal chimney. A highly reflective roof and sunshades help repel heat.
The passive cooling elements plus the hot water heating system cost about $300,000 more than it would have cost to build a traditional HVAC system. That’s less than 3 percent of the project’s $10.3 million construction costs, and total energy savings are estimated at 30 percent.
When mechanical engineer Stantec ran thermal analysis of the building, it found the building’s inhabitants would likely need to brave only about 20 hours a year above 85 degrees.
That is uncomfortably hot, for sure. And as we all know, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Weber Thompson moved in just a week ago and time will tell how the building–and its inhabitants–will fare in late July and August.
But hopefully others will be watching. And not just A/E/C firms. Maybe the era of Seattleites bringing a sweater to work in August is drawing to a close.