Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative Employee Service Center
A repeat client, Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative, a major supplier of electric service to counties stretching from the east side of Austin to an area northwest of Houston, hired BBA Architects to design a new employee service center on Bluebonnet’s 20-acre site in a Brenham industrial park. The new facility consists of an office component, a public-accessible lobby and conference room, warehouse/loading dock, maintenance building, and fuel island while allowing for future expansion. The building materials reflect the utility company’s architectural brand identity and recall the local building vernacular of Brenham’s rural, German-settled Texas past. Through the use of local stone as well as metal roof and wall panels, the building maintains a modest image while enduring the elements of time and weather.
Bluebonnet approached the project with the intent of exposing its customers to examples of sustainability within the building itself. Utilizing the building’s purposely designed shed roofs as catchment surfaces for rainwater harvesting, the community will see firsthand how the building is sensitive to energy conservation. By orienting the building according to the path of the sun, natural daylighting is maximized, thus minimizing energy consumption during working hours. A super insulated and ventilated building envelope with photovoltaic panel arrays to shade the southern face lessens the heat load of the mechanical system. Aligning the maintenance and warehouse with the general direction of prevailing winds takes advantage of natural air ventilation for those portions of the building that are not conditioned. The building’s placement on the site was chosen to minimize the building’s impact on the land as well as downplay the less-than-desirable views of the support components of the service center yard which are screened by landscaping and by the building itself.