Exterior of California New Natural Resources Headquarters; Exterior of California New Natural Resources Headquarters;

California Department of General Services' New Natural Resources Headquarters, Sacramento, California

Bringing to life the new sustainably designed home of the California Natural Resources Agency

The California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) is an arm of the state government tasked with protecting, managing, and restoring the natural, historical, and cultural resources of the country’s most populous state. A superagency overseeing 26 distinct departments, conservancies, and commissions across the state, CNRA was in need of a new, modern headquarters to house its growing staff, particularly one that could embody the mission and ethos of the agency in its design.

The resulting headquarters, called the New Natural Resources Headquarters (NNRH), is certified LEED Platinum and incorporates design elements that pay homage to the California’s scenic landscape. The new headquarters includes collaborative workspaces and the largest childcare facility constructed by the state, as well as assembly and storage spaces, parking, retail, a commercial food court, and a pedestrian plaza. Located on P Street in Sacramento (and often referred to as the P Street Building), the 21-story office complex was also designed with an emphasis on employee wellness.

Project Summary

Zero net energy building

Over 800,000ft²serving 3,500 state employees

23Arup disciplines contributed to the criteria

Arup served as the leader of the criteria architect/engineer (CAE) team throughout six years of design, construction, and commissioning of the building. The team worked closely with the California Department of General Services (DGS), which provides real estate services to California agencies as the business manager for the state of California, acting as a trusted advisor for DGS throughout the process. Arup led the development of the project design criteria and performance specifications, engaging 32 total disciplines on the CAE team — 23 of which were contributed by Arup — from structural engineering to sustainability consulting; prepared the Request for Proposal (RFP) and assisted in evaluation and selection of the design-build contractor; proactively de-risked the project during construction; and ensured that the vision was achieved for DGS both on budget and on schedule.

Guiding a strategic vision for the headquarters

At the outset of the project, Arup worked with DGS and CNRA to help develop nine critical success factors, which defined the project’s goals and aspirations. These factors were incorporated into the project’s performance criteria to clearly inform the design, serving as mission statements for the design build team during design, construction, and commissioning.

Exterior of New Natural Resources Headquarters Exterior of New Natural Resources Headquarters

The critical success factors include:

  1. Zero net energy
  2. Activated streetscape
  3. Community connectivity
  4. Transparent government
  5. Elegant and sophisticated
  6. Value-driven
  7. Human capital
  8. Wellness and happiness
  9. Maintainable

© Lawrence Anderson Studio

Driving sustainability

Sustainability is a key element of the NNRH, which pays homage to the mission of CNRA as well as the natural history and environmental landscape of California. The NNRH is a zero net energy (ZNE) building, which means that the total amount of energy the building uses on an annual basis is equal to the amount of renewable energy created on site. With features such as a high-performing façade, radiant floor heating, chilled beams, and reclaimed water systems, the building is designed to operate with an ultra-low energy use intensity and use 50% less water than a comparable office building of similar size. In achieving the targets set forth by DGS and Arup, the design of the building aligns with the core mission of CNRA, as the NNRH actively conserves what the agency is working to protect in California — water and energy.

As the CAE on the project, Arup was influential in the sustainable design for the new headquarters. We provided DGS with a toolkit for achieving an ambitious level of sustainability by taking a holistic look across different industry standards and developing criteria bespoke to the needs of DGS. The Arup CAE team conducted early analysis for performance, bringing together a range of disciplines to outline the critical success factors that were instrumental in achieving a sustainable, resource-conscious office complex.

© Lawrence Anderson Studio

Enhancing employee wellbeing

Created with employee wellbeing in mind, the NNRH emphasizes natural daylight and clean air as well as the use of solar shading to minimize glare. Arup collaborated with CO Architects and FXCollaborative Architects to develop the healthy workspace criteria for the office. An emphasis was placed on access to outdoor spaces and natural light, resulting in a working environment where state employees can feel connected to nature while progressing the important mission of the CRNA.

Also included on the campus is the largest childcare facility constructed by the state, able to accommodate up to 120 children. This amenity actively supports work-life balance for staff who are parents.

Advancing a wider program to upgrade California government buildings

NNRH is the first and largest project completed under the State Project Infrastructure Fund (SPIF) program to date, which encompasses 10 improvement projects and new or retrofit development of over five million square feet in Sacramento.

Following on our work on NNRH, Arup is leading the CAE team for the Richards Boulevard Office Complex (RBOC). RBOC is the largest project in the SPIF program, at 1.25m ft2 and with just under a $1bn construction cost. The new RBOC will provide office space for 5,000 state employees who are currently working in a variety of DGS owned or leased properties across Sacramento, and the campus will be the largest development in the city’s burgeoning River District. Building on our relationship with DGS and success with the NNRH, Arup led the criteria development for this new state office complex. The development of the office campus criteria was a collaboration between 23 different Arup disciplines, from mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering services to sustainability and resilience consulting and nine external consultants such as architecture and food service.

We are thrilled to see this significant project come to life and to help progress another important building project for DGS in Sacramento. As with the new 1.2m ft² Richards Boulevard Office Complex, which is currently under construction, the critical success factors established at the beginning of the project have helped to provide direction for the decisions made by the many collaborators involved in the project, making the process more efficient, seamless, and concerted. ” Professional Headshot of Amie Nulman Amie Nulman Associate Principal

Leading the two largest new SPIF program office projects, Arup is helping DGS to improve the efficiencies and sustainability performance across multiple buildings, creating centralized, people-focused, healthy workspaces for state employees in alignment with California’s wider sustainability goals.

Lobby of California New Natural Resources Headquarters Lobby of California New Natural Resources Headquarters