LCRA Redbud Center
Project type: Commercial
Project size: 35400
Cost/sq ft: $313
Completion date: March 01, 2008

Project Goals

The Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) completed the Redbud Center, a new facility across from its general office complex on Lake Austin Boulevard, in 2008. The center provides a central location for LCRA's emergency management, public safety, and river management operations. With this project, LCRA aimed to create:

  • a high performance facility
  • a healthy, inviting, and attractive workplace
  • an efficient, functional, durable, and aesthetically pleasing structure
  • a building that will be viable for more than 75 years

Project Description

The Redbud Center is a three-story, 35,400 square-foot building on the shore of Ladybird Lake, which is part of the Colorado River system that LCRA manages.

Project architects, BGK Architects wanted to expand the standard notion of green building by “trying to think of sustainable design as part of a larger concept-- something akin to socially responsible design.”

The building’s orientation and passive design reduce energy use. Other energy-saving features include high performance windows positioned to make the most of natural daylight and motion detectors that turn off lights in unoccupied rooms. Water conservation methods, such as installing low-flow sinks and using air-conditioning condensate water and rainwater to flush toilets, reduce the use of indoor potable water by 83% a year.

More than 50% of the site’s open land supports native and adaptive plants and trees. The landscape design reuses granite blocks from a historic dam discovered during excavation.

The construction phase diverted 82% of construction waste (1,242 tons) from the landfill. More than 50% of new building materials (by cost) were manufactured in Texas.

The building site required remediation of a former brownfield for redevelopment. Reuse of a previously developed site saves virgin land from new development.

Other features of the Redbud Center include a conservation plaza, an interpretive garden and water feature, and four water storage cisterns. The project achieved a four-star rating from Austin Energy Green Building and has a Gold LEED Rating from the U.S Green Building Council (USGBC). The building functions as a healthy and productive work environment for LCRA employees, as well as a place for visitors to learn about the Lower Colorado River.

Project Features


  • Initial project team charrette established a comprehensive sustainable design plan that represented LCRA’s priorities
  • LCRA drew on technical staff experience to design and execute a thorough water conservation plan


  • Rehabilitated an underused brownfield site
  • 90% of paved areas such as parking lots, drives, and sidewalks, are high albedo concrete which does not absorb heat like other materials such as asphalt, thereby reducing heat island effect
  • More than 50% of open area restored with native and adaptive plants and trees


  • Rainwater and condensate harvesting system channels water to four cisterns with a total capacity of 31,100 gallons
  • Rainwater harvesting system received the Texas Rain Catcher Award from the Texas Water Development Board
  • Collected rainwater and condensate are used to flush water-efficient toilets
  • Various water conservation methods reduce potable water use indoors by 83% or 110,500 gallons per year
  • Collected rainwater and condensate are also used for irrigation along with water from the adjacent Lower Colorado River
  • Drip and high-efficiency irrigation system is used for 12,000 native or adapted plants
  • On-site evapotranspiration radio monitoring system determines optimal watering quantities
  • Stormwater runoff directed into purifying bio-swales and natural retention ponds

Energy & Atmosphere:

  • Building orientation and passive design elements minimize solar gain, HVAC strain, and energy usage
  • Daylighting techniques contribute to the building’s impressive lighting density of 0.82 W/s.f
  • Windows have a high performance glazing (0.3 U-Value)
  • Lights are energy efficient (T8/T5/Light Harvesting), on dimmable ballasts with occupant motion sensors
  • 31.7% energy reduction = 398,670 kWh/year savings , eliminating 515,778 lbs of CO2 or taking 57 cars off the road

Materials & Resources:

  • 82% of construction waste, or 1,242 tons diverted from the landfill
  • 24% of the building's materials (by cost) have recycled content
  • Carpet has 100% recycled content
  • 28% of the materials (by cost) are locally extracted and manufactured products
  • More than 50% of the materials (by cost) were manufactured in Texas
  • Granite blocks from historic dam discovered during excavation incorporated into the landscape

Indoor Environmental Quality:

  • Passive design provides ample natural light to all work areas
  • Unique floor plan places low-partition cubicles around the perimeter and enclosed offices in the core to provide day lighting and outdoor views to a majority of occupants
  • Daylight harvesting controls (photo sensors and dimmable ballasts) around the perimeter allow daylight to illuminate the building and minimize energy consumption and heat generation from electrical lights
  • CO2 monitoring helps keep the interior optimally ventilated
  • Staff follows a schedule of regular, thorough preventive maintenance for the building and site including monitoring the use of sealants, adhesives, paints, and cleaning products

Innovations & Other:

  • Rainwater and condensate water used for all flush fixtures
  • Interpretive and interactive water feature demonstrates LCRA’s role in managing the Lower Colorado River
  • Effective use of the building and site as a teaching tool for water conservation strategies
  • Elevated overlook of the Lower Colorado River and the Tom Miller Dam
  • Shaded learning pavilion and amphitheater for public gatherings
  • Colorado River historical timeline exhibit

Testing/General Results:

LCRA brought the architects, the contractor, and Austin Energy Green Building together very early in the design process to formulate a strategy that fused their core priorities with a timeless design approach and a foundation of green building practices. The project focused on water, material, and energy-saving design techniques that produced an impressive, high-performance, public space.

Last Updated: 12/30/14
Project Team
Four cisterns store 31,500 gallons of collected rainwater and condensate that is used for all flush fixtures.
Photo by Thomas McConnell

Daylighting design methods provide ample natural light to all interior work areas. Carpet is 100% recycled material.
Photo by Thomas McConnell

LCRA Redbud center redeveloped a former brownfield site. Main building is incorporated into the site’s existing slope and is oriented for optimal interior light and views. Drip and low flow system irrigates the native and adapted plant landscape.
Photo by Thomas McConnell