Orange County Sanitation District Headquarters Complex

OCSD Headquarters Mass Timber Lobby

Orange County Sanitation District Headquarters Complex

Rethinking Design for Community Infrastructure


Orange County Sanitation District Headquarters Sustainability
Explore key sustainability strategies for this LEED Gold and net-zero energy targeting project.

"Honesty, Integrity, and Respect" for Environment, Community

The new Orange County Sanitation District Headquarters Complex at Plant 1 is designed to illustrate OC San’s core values of “honesty, integrity and respect for interactions between employees, the greater public and community.” Working closely with OC San, our HDR team developed a design solution that engages the public through educational experiences, prioritizes employee well-being and returns value for public investment, all while focusing on precedent-setting, but cost-conscious, sustainability goals.

With nearly every design feature contributing to improved green building performance, the overall design is practical, timeless, and thoughtful. 

  • Net-Zero Design + Hybrid-Mass Timber Construction
  • Low-impact development infrastructure
  • Sun-shading and building orientation to maximize daylighting while reducing glare and solar heat gain
  • Biogas energy generation and photovoltaic panels for net-zero energy use
  • 100% building heating is provided from the waste heat of the plant operations
The lobby of a facility with an illuminated, timber ceiling and two people walking through
Project nearing completion.

A Community Destination

Ergonomic workplace environments offer flexibility for different work styles, opportunities for connection and collaboration, and seamless technology integration. Public spaces capture ample natural light, while being sensitive to glare and heat gain and supporting a high level of activity with acoustic sensitivity. To emphasize a welcoming posture towards the community, an immersive indoor/outdoor exhibit at the entrance of the space informs and inspires the wide variety of visitors coming to OC San. Public tour touchpoints are thoughtfully integrated throughout the indoor/outdoor exhibit and the building interior. A new pedestrian bridge spans from the Headquarters building over a heavy traffic road, to the inside of the secured perimeter of the treatment plant, providing safe access for employees, utilities, and visiting tour groups.

Jury Comments from AIA LA | COTE NEXT Awards 2019:

The integration of sustainable strategies was very embedded within the design. We appreciated how this team was really looking at innovation and new models that can impact future development within the region and have a bigger impact beyond just a single project. We were very impressed with the energy performance and the renewable strategies. This project had so many integrated sustainable strategies, many of, which are not in widespread use, such as mass timber frame. It’s particularly notable for its use of biogas as a resource, which is normally something that's considered waste. What was unique about this project is the ability to use its own infrastructural processes as an energy source for itself.

OCSD Headquarters Mass Timber Lobby


Honorable Mention (2020)
Unbuilt – Green Category, Best of Design Awards
Architect’s Newspaper
World Changing Ideas Honorable Mention (2020)
Spaces, Places, and Cities Category
Fast Company
State of California Mass Timber Grant (2020)
$40,000 Mass Timber Grant
California GovOps
Honor Award (2019)
Southern California Development Forum
Merit Award (2019)
Committee on the Environment NEXT
American Institute of Architects Los Angeles