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Environmental responsibility is a core value of the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands. Embracing creative and innovative solutions is central to the Sunnylands culture. We strive to be a leader in implementing sustainable practices to meet our current needs without compromising the environment for future generations.

Above Sunnylands Center. Photograph by Kerun Ip. 2011. Right Visitors walk toward the entrance of Sunnylands Center. Photograph by Kerun Ip. 2011.

Sharing our environmental experiences with the public broadens the impact of our actions. Sunnylands Green Vision Statement


Above Sunnylands Center sits among the Gardens planted with arid-landscape plants. Photograph by Kerun Ip. 2011. Right At dusk soft lighting within the Center helps illuminate the West Terrace. Photograph by Mark Davidson. 2011.

Designed by Frederick Fisher & Partners, Architects, the Center is a contemporary building inspired by Midcentury Modern architecture with an emphasis on sustainability. Pre- and post-consumer recycled materials and regional sources were used whenever possible, including the installation of the terrazzo tile floors created on-site using recycled material. Wood used for construction was certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Exterior surfaces all have a high “solar reflective index� (SRI) which reduces heat absorption of the hardscaped surfaces, requiring less electricity to cool the building. Vegetated open space fills 66% of the site. Preferred parking has been provided for fuelefficient and low-emitting vehicles, as well as car and vanpools. Inside the Center, material selection was made with an emphasis on creating a comfortable and safe environment. An Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Management Plan includes using low-emitting materials for adhesives, sealants, paint and coatings, carpets, composite wood, agrifiber products, and a Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) Free HVAC system. Light pollution reduction was achieved through the installation of downward, low lumen lighting and control of interior lighting angles to reduce the light exiting the building.


Above The iconic pink roof now features low maintenance tiles. Photograph by Graydon Wood. 2006. Right The historic golf course and estate grounds now incorporate modern maintenance practices. Official White House Photograph. 1981.

The historic estate renovation includes seismic retrofitting according to current earthquake standards. The replacement of windows with lowemissivity glass protects the artwork and furnishings on display and helps reduce electricity needs. The original roof tiles required repainting every five years causing degradation of the concrete material. They have been replaced with new pink tiles where the imbedded color increases the life expectancy of the roof and reduces its required maintenance. On the estate grounds and golf course, additional green practices have been incorporated into daily operations. Lakes on the golf course have been fully re-lined to prevent seepage. Plant and fish species within the lakes help maintain a healthy ecosystem. Turf on the golf course has been reduced by 60 acres and droughttolerant meadow grasses have been introduced into areas requiring no additional irrigation. Electric shuttles are used for guided tours of the historic estate.


Above The plaque for LEED Gold is proudly displayed at Sunnylands Center & Gardens. Right Sunnylands Center & Gardens is constructed and planted with careful consideration to sustainability. Photograph by Kerun Ip. 2011.

Sunnylands Center & Gardens achieved a LEED Gold rating in 2011. LEED is an internationally recognized, green building certification system developed by the United States Green Building Council in 2002. This program provides a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations, and maintenance solutions. Sunnylands Center & Gardens received the second highest rating based on credits earned in five environmental categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environment. The formation of a staff sustainability team ensures the use of best practices at Sunnylands. The team has written the Green Vision Statement and assists in ensuring that decisions made for procurement, operations, and maintenance of Sunnylands Center & Gardens and the historic estate remain focused on sustainable practices. For more information on the United States Green Building Council or LEED, please visit their website at


Above Sunnylands CafĂŠ uses recyclable and biodegradable products for food packaging. Photograph by Kerun Ip. 2011. Right Composting of green waste produced by regular garden maintenance is a routine activity at Sunnylands. Photograph by Kerun Ip. 2011.

Purchasing decisions for the historic estate and Center & Gardens emphasize green choices. Cleaning supplies are selected with an understanding of their full lifecycle and environmental footprint. CafĂŠ packaging is recyclable and biodegradable. It is integrated into an on-site comprehensive compost plan. Recyclable and reusable bags are used in the Shop. Approximately 1,000 yards of greenwaste is collected annually on the historic estate and Center & Gardens and composted for reuse on-site as part of green practices. Post-construction planning included keeping 70% of construction waste out of the landfill. An active recycling program for staff and visitors includes clearly visible receptacles for depositing plastics, metals, paper, cardboard, and glass. Printed materials are kept to a minimum and, whenever feasible, are printed by an FSC printer on recycled paper using environmentally friendly inks.


Above The specimen garden is a short walk from the solar field. Photograph by Dillon Diers, Office of James Burnett. 2011. Right The Sunnylands solar field provides electricity to the Center & Gardens. Photograph by Mark Davidson. 2011.

The solar field contains 864 collector panels providing power to the Center & Gardens. This system is connected to the public grid. When electricity production at the Center exceeds usage, the excess energy feeds the grid, and when production is lower than usage, the Center can draw energy from the grid. The natural lighting in the Center reduces the need for continual electric lighting. Windows provide access to natural light in most of the building. Low-emissivity glass protects the artwork. Motion sensor lighting controls are used in some spaces. The Center’s internal environment is monitored daily for usage and occupancy. Adjustments can be made based on changing needs to use the generated power in the most responsible way. Visit the interactive media stations in the Gallery for more information on our solar field.


Above KISSS™ irrigation system is used in the Center Gardens. Photograph by Dillon Diers, Office of James Burnett. 2011. Right Underground pipes wrapped in a geotextile fabric water plants from the roots. Photograph by Dillon Diers, Office of James Burnett. 2011.

Remediation on the estate reduces water and power use by 50%. A 45-year-old hydraulic block irrigation system was replaced. High-density polyetheline pipes, which have a low volatile organic compound (VOC) rate during production, installation, and usage, were added. Using individual head control, this system can irrigate the entire estate property in six hours between midnight and six in the morning. An on-site weather station allows water use to be calculated based on real time soil moisture needs. At the Center, a selection of desert natives and arid-landscape plants reduces water use. The KISSS™ irrigation system uses a geotextile fiber membrane to bring water to the root-zone. Designed to keep water below the ground, this system reduces evaporation. Water emitters and location-specific, above-ground irrigation can increase water to plants while becoming established and can be turned off when no longer needed. Retention basins catch water runoff and gray-water pipes have been installed in anticipation of a future city-wide gray-water program.


Above Beneath the grounds of Sunnylands Gardens lies a system of 96 geothermal wells. Photograph by Clark Duggar. 2011. Š ClimateMaster. Right Underground controls monitor the geothermal wells. Photograph by Clark Duggar. 2011. Š ClimateMaster.

One non-visible green technology used at Sunnylands is the heating and cooling system for the Center. Ninety-six geothermal wells extend 396 feet below the Great Lawn. This system uses the earth’s thermal storage capacity to regulate building temperatures. In winter, the higher underground temperatures bring heat into the building and, in summer, the earth becomes a heat sink where heat from the building is transferred into the ground. The hot and cold air circulates through the series of underground tubes and can be pumped into or away from the Center. This closed-loop system prevents the water evaporation that occurs with standard air conditioners. Daily occupancy, seasonal changes, and other environmental factors are monitored so adjustments can be made to compensate for Center activity. Electric shades are lowered to prevent unnecessary heating of the building, while temperature and humidity are adjusted at peak and low occupancy times. Visit the interactive media stations in the Gallery for more information on our geothermal system.


Green Vision Guide  

Sunnylands subscribes to a green vision and sustainable practices.

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