Landscape So Beautiful You Can, Literally, Eat It!
Suitably opened on Earth Day 2020, Santa Monica’s City Hall East achieved a series of sustainability firsts:
- First municipal building in Southern California to achieve Net Zero Water and Energy, indoors and out
- First building in California to convert rainwater to drinkable water
- First building in the U.S. with over a dozen composting toilets
- First municipal building in the world (pending) to achieve the highest standard in sustainability—full Living Building Challenge (LBC) certification
The City wanted its new City Hall to express its commitment to environmental and fiscal responsibility. The new landscape design for the 1.25-acre site is anchored by a central courtyard that functions as an outdoor lobby linking the historic City Hall—a designated landmark—with the new City Hall.
The planting scheme and irrigation systems balance beauty and performance with the water and energy needed to meet both the rigorous requirements of the LBC and the City’s need for low maintenance. The building recycles water from every source—including gray and rainwater harvesting systems. Many of the plants need only low amounts of supplemental water.
To meet LBC urban agriculture criteria, 58% of the landscape is either edible or has medicinal properties and can be easily harvested and consumed. The courtyard provides herbs, tangerines, pomegranates, and edible greens to workers and visitors.
As a 100% self-sustaining building, it will have no utility bill for its projected lifespan and will have little to no impact on waste, water or energy. It demonstrates a paradigm shift from buildings that consume resources to those that generate resources and benefit the environment and community around them.
US Green Building Council Los Angeles Sustainable Innovation Honor Award, Zero Waste + Circular Solutions