Passive Air Cooling – It’s not Just for the Birds
In 2007, Matarozzi Pelsinger Builders worked out of a loft-like industrial space in the Mission that lacked sufficient air flow on the handful of warm San Francisco days. During those San Francisco “heat waves,” we had to haul out 6’ tall industrial fans in a feeble attempt to move the air. With the fans howling, it felt like working in an old airplane hangar with prop planes readying to taxi out to the runway.
A few years later Matarozzi Pelsinger teamed up with architects Aidlin Darling to design and build their new space on 11th Street in the SOMA district of San Francisco. The team transformed the 14,000 square foot building, originally the distribution warehouse for the Jackson Brewing Company in the early 1910’s, into a passively cooled LEED Gold Certified building housing offices and a restaurant. Because the building is on the National Register of Historical Places, the City’s planning department required that the new building maintain the historical integrity of the corrugated façade. In order to gain natural light and incorporate operable windows to the east and west, the building was clad with a new perforated zinc skin. The corrugated zinc is perforated with holes ranging from 1/16” to 1” in diameter which allow light and air to pass through new aluminum windows hidden behind it. This perforated siding does double duty as a shield for solar heat gain and as a breathable skin that enables cross-ventilation of the interior spaces. Because the zinc skin is set in front of the windows, a pocket of tempered air is allowed to circulate inside.
The same double-skin passive cooling principal was used in the SF Federal Building. That structure uses a building automation system to control the operation of windows above the 5th floor to allow the building to breathe through a perforated metal skin. Read more here.
San Francisco City College also incorporated a passive cooling system that uses a wind powered louver system in a central atrium and skylights in their newly completed Joint Use Academic Facility. Read more here.
As an added benefit, the Matarozzi Pelsinger Building’s zinc skin inadvertently complies with the new bird safety standards that were approved in San Francisco in 2011. Read them here.
Doug Nomiyama, Director of Business Development, Matarozzi Pelsinger Builders Since joining Matarozzi Pelsinger Builders as a project manager, Doug has managed more than a dozen residential construction projects in San Francisco and Marin. Before joining Matarozzi Pelsinger, he managed several high-end residential projects on the Peninsula—including the construction of a 1,500 SF wine cave in a Los Altos Hills hillside. Doug spent the first twelve years of his career in building material procurement and sales roles for residential housing and commercial projects worldwide. Doug is currently managing projects and leading the business development team at MatPel.
Doug holds a Bachelor of Arts from Stanford University. He is a Certified Green Building Professional and enjoys teaching new tricks to his Australian Shepherd named Bloo.