The global headquarters for the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation officially made the move from its Century City offices to Agoura Hills on Monday with 40 employees now on premises.
"It's definitely going to take some getting use to, all the wildlife," said Marc Moorghen, communications manager for the Foundation.
Construction of the 22,931 square foot building, which began in February of 2011 on the easterly edge of a 70-acre site on Agoura Road, is phase one of a four phase project. The Foundation’s long-term goal includes the erection of four buildings with a total of 90,300 square feet covering about 12 acres of the site, which will take about 25 years to complete.
With leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified by the U.S. Green Building Council, the Foundation’s building includes the use of hybrid concrete and steel reinforcement with glass and tight angular shapes in its facade, which are intended to promote the natural landscape surrounding Ladyface Mountain.
The building is a collaboration of many entities in addition to ZFG Architects, LLP., lead design architect, R. Doss Mabe, and general contractor, MATT Construction Corporation.
The use of a unique chimney and cooling system that both heats and cools the structure naturally is what sets it apart from other LEED certified buildings, and is what may help it achieve Platinum LEED certification, the highest designation for green standards available, said Nathan Jarvis, Assistant Project Manager with MATT Construction.
The passive ventilation system captures air through a series of 17 chimneys, which allow the cooler and denser air to flow into the building without the assistance of fans, minimizing the use of energy. When the weather is cooler, air is heated by a rooftop solar-heated water system (glass tubes with an aluminum fin and a pipe that pump water through them), said Jarvis.
“As the sun hits the tubes the water heats up,” Jarvis said. “On a sunny day it heats up to a steamy boil… If the building requires heat, it uses that water.”
Additionally, a clerestory design (normally seen in ancient Egyptian temples) permits the warm air to rise and escape through a band of narrow lever controlled windows along the top of the office walls.
As for electrical energy, the Foundation’s headquarters will receive 100 percent of its power from on-site solar panels located on top of canopies in the parking lot. The building will not be entirely off the grid but will achieve “zero net energy by the end of the year,” Jarvis said. “There is only one other building of its kind in the United States.”
Other green features on-site include a green roof utilizing plants to reflect sunlight, a design utilizing natural light to illuminate the indoors while minimizing the use of lamps, and charging stations for electric cars.
Construction of the project also required the mitigation of uncommon flowering plants known as Ojai Navarretia.
“The [biologists] germinated the seeds in the nursery and crews planted each little seedling on the slopes and marked it with a flag,” Jarvis said. “Part of the program is to get them to sustain themselves and they were really successful in the first round.”
Environmentalists working on the project were very pleased with the progress, Jarvis said.
The four phase project also required the removal of 36 protected oak trees, 16 valley oaks and 20 coastal oaks. The vast majority of the oaks were preserved in their natural state or replaced with three additional oaks of the same species. One of the preserved oaks can found at the front entrance of the new building.
“The natural beauty of this particular site, the size of the plot of land, and the overall quality of life in Agoura Hills were among the primary factors in the decision to acquire this site, ” said Steven M. Hilton, chairman, president and CEO of the Foundation.
Hilton hopes the site can serve as an education resource to teach visitors about building green, renewable power and the importance of native plant species in landscaping.
“We’re hoping that if organizations like us take the lead to do things like this then eventually it will bring down the cost for others…you have early adopters with any kind of new technology,” said Moorghen.
The Foundation, named after its founder Conrad N. Hilton, was first established in 1944 and is an entity legally separate from the Hilton Hotel Corporation. The Foundation’s aim is to relieve the suffering of disadvantaged and vulnerable people throughout the world.
Their works includes everything from helping those impacted by natural disasters to creating supporting housing for the chronically homeless.
The Foundation is set to add a few more positions in the future and will consider local applicants.
They are also planning to host a grand opening at the beginning of next year, although an exact date has not yet been set.
“We hope the public will be able to come visit and learn some of the great features that make us all proud,” said Moorghen. “We do think it’s a really good opportunity to learn about these techniques and learn how to build green.”