The client and the architects jointly sought alternative means of achieving these aims through the project. The building illustrates seldom-seen yet reasonable ways of reducing embodied energy in buildings, equitably distributing wealth through the construction project, updating vernacular materials and forms, and curtailing energy consumption and CO2 emissions.
The design, materials, and techniques of Development Alternatives world headquarters demonstrate a fundamental alternative for the construction of comfortable, green, and affordable buildings of many types.
The project tests innovative, specially designed elements and components such as a hybrid air-handling unit that incorporates available components in a new way to achieve great energy savings.
Nearly all interior and exterior walls are built of cement-stabilized compressed-earth block and cement-stabilized fly-ash lime-gypsum block, the manufacture of which recycles plentiful local materials in processes that use local labor and low energy. Efficiently built in reinforced concrete and masonry, Development Alternatives world headquarters uses less than half the reinforcing steel used in comparable structures of conventional design.
The approach holds significant potential for reducing resource consumption and greenhouse-gas emissions. The building uses predominantly natural, recycled, renewable, and reusable materials embodying low process energy. Highly energy intensive materials like aluminum are shunned; others, such as glass and steel, are used frugally.
Eighty percent (by volume) of the building materials were sourced within 500 kilometers of the site, thus holding down CO2 emissions of transport. All rainwater that falls on the site is used to recharge the groundwater. All wastewater is recycled, treated on site and used for irrigation and flushing toilets.