If Volvo intended to make a statement about its future, it certainly found a good place to do so in Sunnyvale. The company’s Research & Development Silicon Valley Tech Center will be taking over the entire 45,000 square-foot building at 380 N. Pastoria Avenue, one of the few zero net energy developments in the region, according to two sources.
The Swedish luxury vehicle manufacturer that was established over 90 years ago, today is a subsidiary of Chinese automotive company Geely. In those nine decades, the world has transformed many times over, as has Volvo, its fortunes and its owners. Geely purchased the vehicle brand from Ford, which owned the company for about a decade from 1999 until 2010. Prior to that, the company was independent for 72 years as it navigated the changing global auto manufacturing landscape in the 20th century.
In the Bay Area, the company announced its presence with a Research & Development Silicon Valley Tech Center established at 335 E. Middlefield Rd. in Mountain View, where it occupied the 23,700 square-foot, 1982 vintage property. Silicon Valley had become in recent years the hotbed of automotive research, and every major global auto manufacturer has a presence in the region. Along with home-grown Tesla, other companies with a research facility in the region include BMW, Ford, General Motors, Mercedes, Honda, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen, to name a few.
And the location on Pastoria is just next door to Mercedes’ own R&D office at 340 North Pastoria Avenue in Sunnyvale and across the street from the Mercedes-Benz corporate campus located at 309 North Pastoria Avenue.
Yet, Volvo’s facility looks to add a little more pizzaz. The 380 N. Pastoria is a single-story office building that is attempting to move the bar on zero net energy (ZNE) development. The WRNS Studio-designed project was redeveloped by Sharp Development and Hillhouse Construction as a follow up project to the companies’ similar carbon-neutral buildings at 435 Indio Way and 415 Mathilda Avenue, also in Sunnyvale. The project is owned by H&S Properties, a company that has been a partner in the other two ZNE developments.
At the rear of the building, the development team used a special type of watertight solar paneling to create a canopy housing a usable workspace underneath. The canopy not only supplements the solar panels on the building’s roof, but also provides an all-seasons area that seamlessly blends into the indoors for an environment that feels natural. Mature, drought-tolerant trees will provide a pleasing transition between at-grade parking and the outdoor work area, bathed in light filtered down through the speciality solar panels. Large doors and windows featuring View Dynamic Glass work to reduce energy consumption by insulating the space at a rate of six to eight times that of regular glass as well as offering interior areas with natural light. South facing skylights dot the ceiling harvesting sunlight year round and provide natural lighting inside the space.
“Our whole mantra is to do this in a way that’s more profitable,” explained Kevin Bates, president, Sharp Development during the construction of the building in 2016. “One way that we drive down energy needs to reduce the reliance on solar panels is by driving down the need for HVAC for heating and cooling. We rarely have to run AC in the other nearby ZNE buildings.”
A unique aspect of the project is that it weaves kelvin tunable lighting into a Power over Ethernet (PoE) system that runs through a network of cable tray racks, suspended above light fixtures, that ultimately feed into a server room. The system utilizes category five cables to supply energy throughout the structure instead of standard line voltage.
Light fixtures throughout the building that use kelvin tunable lighting are able to adapt to and replicate outdoor lighting levels imbuing office spaces with a natural atmosphere. This, along with a moss-fern wall installation and regular air quality, acoustic, noise and moisture monitoring, contributes to the project’s considerable health and wellness benefits. Building components were sourced from repurposing excess materials of other projects and the site’s prior structure. Amenities include bicycle racks, lockers, showers and a community garden.