Wells Fargo's New Net-Positive Campus
Corgan’s design for Wells Fargo’s new net-positive campus in Las Colinas, TX, celebrates the employee experience and prioritizes wellness and sustainability. As an extension of prioritizing health and wellness for their employees, the project is pursuing LEED Platinum certification to measurably minimize the environmental impact of the building while maximizing benefits to staff. It is the first net-positive project for both Corgan and Wells Fargo and indicates the growing push toward sustainable corporate campuses. Net positive goes beyond the current standards for sustainability by not only minimizing the impact the building on the environment but also actually giving power back to the electrical utility grid. The project aligns with Corgan’s recent pledge to the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment with World GBC and taps into the resources and leadership of our sustainability practice, Corgan Echo, to put to practice the power and potential of more sustainable design.
For the Wells Fargo campus, the original goal was to be net zero, but the client decided to aim for net positive instead, pushing the envelope on maximizing the available technology.
“This is a very aspirational goal, and we’re thrilled on many levels to actually achieve this,” said Matt McDonald, the commercial sector leader at Corgan. “The client came back to us late in the design process and said, ‘Hey, we want to really bump the goal here to be net positive.’ We really had to knuckle down and scrutinize every system, every plug load, every computer, taking it down to the actual number of employees who were going to be utilizing power onsite.”
This was especially challenging to accomplish with the energy demands required to manage the Texas climate and required a comprehensive approach from large and small gestures including site planning, solar panels, regionally sourced materials, lighting interventions, and introducing biophilic elements throughout the space.
Based on the sunny Texas location of the campus, its main source of energy is produced by the rooftop solar panels on the office and the parking structure, which became a feature of the design. Since the initiative is something Wells Fargo is proud of, “The visual impact of the solar panels was something they were not afraid of. The solar canopy makes that top level of the parking structure more usable by shading it, while also being able to showcase and make visible what we’re doing on the sustainability front,” Matt said. “The idea of creating that as a thoughtful and very visible approach to sustainability was something that became a design element in itself.”
Having a structure for parking also reduces surface parking and other outdoor paved spaces. “We could maximize the green both from an accessibility and walkability perspective but equally for views. You offset the heat island effect by utilizing more landscaping and create outdoor amenity space that is so desired.”
While the sun provides solar power, it also reduces the need for artificial light in the buildings. The Corgan team designed the massive, 40,000 square foot floor plates to take advantage of the Texas sun.
“One of the sustainability goals is to make sure you’re getting natural light deep into the building floor plates. […] we’ve designed them to be long and narrow so you don’t have dark spots in the middle of the building.”
The team also had to account for too much of a good thing – we have plenty of sunshine in Texas. “When you have too much natural light, you have heat gain and glare that comes along with that. This is probably one of the larger installations on a corporate campus of an electrochromic glazing system on the exterior. What that does is when the sun is bearing down the glass darkens a bit so you are minimizing some of that heat gain, while still taking advantage of the views and the light without using window shades to block the view.”
In addition to the environmental benefits of a net-positive corporate campus, it can be helpful in recruiting new talent. “If you’re a college graduate, you’re going to be looking for an organization that aligns with your priorities. You want to put your career and energy into a place that is giving back to the environment, giving back to a community, or giving back in some capacity.”
To champion the demands and preferences of a modern workforce, the new Wells Fargo campus is not only a flexible, connected space that encourages employee socialization, health, and well-being but is also a powerful model for ambitious sustainability goals — that leads industry trends, challenges design, and shapes the future of work and the continued evolution of its surrounding neighborhood.