Design & Construction

The Environmental Technology Center (ETC) began as a shared vision among students and faculty in the former Department of Environmental Studies and Planning (ENSP) which is now part of the Department of Geography, Environment, and Planning. It was a vision of a site where both the university and the general community could see and experience first-hand the benefits of an integrated approach to energy and building design that demonstrates advanced technology while embodying the philosophy of environmentally sustainable living.

The founding faculty members were Professors Rocky Rohwedder (retired) and Jean (Merriman) Falbo (retired), who secured grants from the National Science Foundation and the California Energy Commission to fund this unique construction project. With additional funding from Sonoma State University and loyal support from many individuals locally, statewide, and nationally, the ETC was completed in the Summer of 2001.

beamsGeorge Beeler of AIM Associates in Petaluma, CA, served as the architect for the ETC who succeeded in weaving the numerous objectives for this highly innovative building into a coherent design. The tall and graceful single story building that resulted is so adept in its capture of the varying hourly and seasonal angles of the sun that additional light and heat are used minimally. Hydronic flooring based on natural gas provides back-up heating for the coldest winter mornings. Through a combination of a living-canopy trellis, motorized sunshades, awnings, and blinds, solar gain during the hot weather months can be accurately controlled. Cool night air floods the building and is stored in the thermal mass of the building’s walls and concrete floor. Through the extensive use of “green” building materials, the ETC makes an environmental contribution in many ways, showcasing materials with high recycled content and low embodied energy. Finally, roof-integrated photovoltaic modules generate up to 3 kilowatts of electricity, turning the building’s electric meter backwards most of the time and supplying solar power to PG&E’s grid.

FlowersOther collaborators on the design team included:

Subcontractors and others who worked on the ETC include, among others:

  • California Coastal Insulation, Alameda, CA
  • Hunter/Bunting Construction, Santa Rosa, CA
  • Mike Brown Electric, Cotati, CA
  • Syserco, Fremont, CA
  • Schram Construction, Santa Rosa, CA
  • Warm Floors, Napa, CA

The photovoltaic system was jointly designed and installed by

  • Steve Heckeroth, Homestead Enterprises, Albion, CA
  • Bruce Roush, Solar Depot, San Rafael, CA
  • Gary Gerber, SunLight & Power, Berkeley, CA