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Agoura Hills Frequently Asked Questions

By Katherine Miller, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, January 1, 2012

Frequently asked questions about the Hilton Foundation’s campus in Agoura Hills, CA

What is the address of the campus?

30440 Agoura Road
Agoura Hills, CA 91301
818.851.3700 tel

Where is Agoura Hills?

Agoura Hills is located in Los Angeles County, California, approximately 30 miles (48 km) northwest of downtown Los Angeles. It is situated in the eastern Conejo Valley between the Simi Hills and the Santa Monica Mountains.

When did the Foundation move?

The Foundation moved into its new headquarters on October 29, 2012.

Why did the Hilton Foundation build an office?

The Foundation outgrew its previous offices in Century City, where commercial rents were among the most expensive in Los Angeles. After considering the projected growth of the Foundation and taking into account its long-term grantmaking strategies, the Foundation carried out an evaluation of its facilities.

One important consideration was whether to build and own a campus or to move into another rental office building. Our board of directors decided in favor of building a permanent home for the Foundation to reflect our goal of carrying out our mission in perpetuity. In the long run, owning a building with lower operating costs and room for future growth will be more affordable than continuing to pay rising rent and tenant expenses, as the costs of construction and moving to Agoura Hills will eventually be recouped.

Why did the Hilton Foundation select this site?

Chairman, President, and CEO Steven M. Hilton had a vision of a cutting-edge, environmentally sensitive, energy-efficient building with the lowest possible impact on the surrounding geography and habitat. The natural beauty of this particular site, the size of the plot of land, and the overall quality of life in Agoura Hills were among the primary factors in the decision to acquire this site.

The new building is located at the foot of Ladyface Mountain, which rises to 2,031 feet above sea level and is visible for miles. Ladyface is a popular hiking trail and is referred to as a gateway to the Santa Monica Mountains. Legend has it that the name “Ladyface” originated with the native Chumash Indians, who perched on the mountain to keep a lookout over the entire valley.

How large will the campus be?

The long-term plan comprises four buildings with a total of 90,300 square feet covering about 12 acres, just one-fifth of the 70-acre site. The buildings will be constructed over a number of years as the Foundation continues to grow.

This first phase of construction yielded an office structure and a maintenance building totaling approximately 23,000 square feet.

How much will the new headquarters building cost?

Over a six-year period, the Foundation invested approximately $41 million in the first phase development of the four-phase campus. The Foundation acquired 70 acres of raw land and has made on- and off-site improvements, including constructing the first-phase building. These costs also include parking, interior roads, underground water storage for irrigation, plant and tree restoration, landscaping, grading, and other installations that will be utilized in future phases of construction. The building includes a number of cutting-edge green features and was constructed to last more than 100 years, so it will not age as quickly as many other buildings. The Foundation views its headquarters as an investment for the future.

Did the building costs divert money from grantmaking projects?

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation considered the possible impact of construction on its grantmaking funds. While there were short-term costs for construction, in the long term, we anticipate that residing in our new building will actually reduce our ongoing fixed costs, enabling us to devote a greater portion of our annual funds to grantmaking. We expect to realize savings in overhead by significantly lowering operating costs and paying no rent. The costs of building are spread over a six-year period.

How did you decide where to locate the building on the site?

One of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation’s primary objectives for its new campus is to work with existing environmental resources and leave a small footprint, making as little impact as possible.

To achieve this, the Foundation initiated conceptual planning and architectural processes aimed at identifying the site’s natural resources and their potential to support both the site plan and building design.

How will the campus serve as an example of environmental responsibility?

The first building on the site has met LEED Platinum standards, the highest certification by the U.S. Green Building Council, and the Foundation is incorporating additional innovative concepts.

One of the special features is the heating and cooling system. Why is it so special?

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation headquarters is employing a unique chimney system to both heat and cool the building naturally. This passive ventilation system captures air through a series of 17 chimneys on top of the building and lets it flow into the building without the assistance of fans. It is an age-old system used as many as 2,000 years ago in the Middle East and in the southern United States before the Civil War, but has been largely neglected since. During the warm summer months, air enters the top of the chimney, where it is cooled before flowing into the building. The cooler air then moves through vents in the floors to each office or room. As the air becomes warmer, it rises and is let out through a clerestory roof (a band of narrow windows along the very top of the office walls).

In cooler months, the air coming in through the chimneys is heated by rooftop solar-heated water.

This innovative chimney system not only reduces the need for electricity, but improves the quality of the indoor environment by constantly bringing in fresh air.

Why is the building so narrow?

The narrow design of the building ensures that every room receives its share of natural daylight. In a typical building, only a few offices along the perimeter enjoy daylight while most of the building must rely on artificial light. With this design, offices will require only task lighting, significantly reducing the amount of energy used.

What “green” features have been designed into the project?

Among the project’s green features are:

  • Natural daylight to enable employee comfort and electricity savings
  • 100 percent fresh air used inside the building instead of re-circulated air
  • Solar water heating, which is also used to heat the building Solar panels, including canopies over the parking lot, to produce electricity to bring the building to a net-zero usage level (see “off the grid” question below)
  • A green roof with native plants for insulation and rain water capture
  • An automated southwest exterior shading system that raises and lowers with the angles of the sun to control glare and limit the need for cooling
  • Interior and exterior use of reclaimed water Bioswales, or natural drainage channels, and bioberms, which encircle catch basins to clean storm water runoff from the driveways and the parking lot before it leaves the property
  • The first-ever reclaimed water blending system that measures water salinity and then, if necessary, produces water with the proper salinity to irrigate California-native plants Moisture sensors monitored by a computer to pinpoint the amount of irrigation water to be distributed for maximum conservation
  • Exterior permeable surfaces that allow rainwater to be filtered into the soil
  • Centralized parking to limit site grading
  • Electric car charging stations
  • Use of building materials that consist mostly of recycled content, and sorting and recycling most of the construction “leftovers”

Is the building “off the grid” (not connected to the main/national electricity transmission grid)?

No. For the present and foreseeable future, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation will still be connected to the grid, but is expected to achieve what is called “net zero energy,” meaning 100 percent of electrical energy needs will come from on-site solar panels. These panels will use the grid as an energy storage system by adding power during daylight hours and using power when needed. The panels will be located on canopies in the parking lot, providing shade for automobiles and walkways underneath.

Due to the many energy-saving elements incorporated into the building, energy use on the campus will be 40 percent less than the mandated minimum Title 24 energy code limits. In addition, the Foundation will heat water through a roof-mounted thermal solar system, further reducing energy demands.

What is a green roof, and why have one?

Part of the roof of the first-phase building is covered by plants, including local native species. Green roofs are aesthetically pleasing and have many practical benefits: they provide insulation, help reduce energy usage, absorb and filter rainwater, create a habitat for wildlife, and add a protective layer to the roof, extending its useful life.

The property contains protected Coast Live and Valley oak trees. Have these trees been preserved?

Prior to initiating the building design process, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation commissioned an extensive oak tree study to identify the location, species, size, and health of all oak trees on the site. This information was provided to the design team for careful consideration throughout planning of the facilities, the city-mandated widening of Agoura Road, and the debris basin required by the Los Angeles County Flood Control District.

The vast majority of the oak trees have been preserved in their natural condition. Some were removed, primarily due to the grading and paving required for the city-mandated street widening. Each of the oak trees removed has been replaced by planting at least three oak trees of the same species. In addition to the replacement trees, the Foundation boxed and saved a number of existing oak trees that have been replanted within the campus site. One spectacular Valley Oak has been placed at the entrance of the site and another in the garden.

Are there any other biological impacts?

The biology consultants working on this project identified a unique plant species on the Hilton Foundation site: the Ojai navarretia (Navarretia ojaiensis). Approximately 1,000 of these plants within a 0.27-acre area were impacted by the project. The Foundation established an onsite restoration preserve that will maintain two times as many plants as any impacted by the project. The plants will be cultivated and irrigated for two years to make sure the population is well-established and sustainable.

What kind of plants will you have on site?

The property features mainly California-native plants that require little water or maintenance. As part of the landscaping plan, the Hilton Foundation is restoring the site’s native plant habitat, including a colorful flowering garden of drought-tolerant plants.

Wouldn’t it be a better display of environmental stewardship to not build anything on this site and move into an existing building?

Not necessarily. This building site is zoned for commercial use, and it can be expected that the land would be developed eventually, whether by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation or another organization or company. The Foundation has taken great care to respect and preserve the natural beauty of the area, aiming to create a park-like setting consistent with the Ladyface Mountain Specific Plan, blending with the existing landscape, and respecting the local community. The building footprint is deliberately small, to preserve much of the property as open space. To further conserve the natural beauty of the area, the Hilton Foundation has recorded a conservation easement on a large portion of the property, and has donated approximately 23 acres to the City of Agoura Hills to be used for open space.

Will the Foundation give money to local organizations?

Consistent with our desire to establish and maintain a positive presence in the local community, we have developed guidelines for our philanthropic involvement in our new home. While the majority of our grantmaking will continue to be devoted to our priority program areas, a modest amount will be earmarked for local, small-scale grants to nonprofit organizations with IRS 501©(3) status. Decisions on these grants will be guided by the same philosophy that guides our priority program grants—addressing the needs of the disadvantaged and vulnerable. On an exceptional basis, we may consider grants that help institutions that are part of the integral fabric of our community. In no case will we consider grants to individuals. The primary geographic focus of these grants will be Agoura Hills, Westlake Village and/or Thousand Oaks. Although it is our policy not to accept unsolicited proposals for our priority programs, we will entertain unsolicited proposals for small-scale community focused grants that fall within the above guidelines.

Katherine Miller Twitter

Director of Campus Expansion, Facilities and Workplace Services

Katherine Miller Twitter

Director of Campus Expansion, Facilities and Workplace Services

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