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$20 Million Straw-Bale Transit Facility Open in Santa Clarita

The new City of Santa Clarita Transit Maintenance Facility, designed by HOK, is one of the first LEED-certified straw-bale buildings in the world. The $20-million project is designed to accommodate more than 150 buses and nearly 160 staff.

In an effort to improve air quality in the Santa Clarita Valley, the City of Santa Clarita’s municipal transit system decided to convert its entire bus fleet from diesel to compressed natural gas, a conversion that required a modern maintenance headquarters. The new facility includes a 22,000-square-foot administration building, 25,000-square-foot maintenance building, bus wash facility, CNG fueling island for City buses, and publicly accessible CNG fueling station.

The Santa Clarita building envelope is constructed of straw bales with a lime plaster layer on both the interior and exterior. “Straw-bale construction may be a rediscovered technology, but it is appropriate and sustainable by today’s standards,” said HOK’s Charles Smith, Senior Project Manager. “When combined with more recent technologies such as under-floor air distribution, high-performance glazing, and daylighting – as it is in this project – it can be part of a powerful strategy for creating an energy and resource-efficient building.” 

The design exceeds California Energy Efficiency Standards by over 40 percent. Additional sustainable features of the building include: skylights and clerestory daylighting, a well-insulated “cool” roof with deep overhangs to shade clerestories and protect straw-bale walls from moisture, on-site stormwater collection and treatment, water-efficient plumbing fixtures, a gray water reclamation system, an under-floor air system, water-source heat pumps, a courtyard and native plant garden, 25 percent fly ash paving, and use of local, recycled materials.

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