California Air Resources Board

Southern California Consolidation Project

Most advanced vehicle testing in the world. Largest zero net energy lab building in the USA.

Consolidating five existing locations, the new home of the California Air Resource Board (CARB) will be one of the largest and most advanced vehicle emissions testing and research facilities in the world – as well as the world’s largest zero net energy (ZNE) facility of its type. The nature of CARB’s research mission, regulating as-yet unregulated emissions constituents, demands high-performance precision laboratory environments to produce repeatable data and meet ZNE.


Riverside, CA


  • Hensel Phelps Construction Co. - Construction Manager
  • ZGF Architects LLP - Architect of Record

LEED Status

Pursuing LEED Platinum and Cal Green Tier 2

Building Size

383,000 sq. ft.


  • 10th Annual Sustainable Innovation Award Un-Built Honor

Housing more than 400 employees near the University of California, Riverside campus, the design-build project will provide advanced chemistry laboratories, a range of dedicated vehicle test cells, workspace for accommodating new test methods for future generations of vehicles, space for developing enhanced onboard diagnostics and portable emissions measurement systems, and public areas. Awarded by the California Department of General Services through design competition, the project team used AEI-developed performance modeling tools for rapid system concept testing, validating a suite of climate-responsive systems strategies improving on the project's already aggressive energy use intensity (EUI) target by an additional 20%.

net energy

The building's energy use will be offset by 3.8MW of photovoltaic (PV) panels on site. 1.5 MWh of battery storage will optimize utility costs under a net-metering agreement. A comprehensive approach to water conservation, collection, and reuse will contribute to a nearly 50% reduction in required potable water use.

Pursuance of this mantra led to a collection of disparate systems unable to communicate with one another; a struggle many large facilities have. CARB’s data acquisition system architecture (DASA) was the genesis of the integration effort of systems. It functions to illustrate the scale and type of interfaces throughout the CARB facility, especially important in the engine and vehicle testing component of CARB.

Chain-of-Custody is the term CARB uses to describe the “linking” of project information throughout the entire test lifespan of a vehicle or engine, a chain robust enough to withstand litigation. Information including fuel parameters, particulate weight, and space temperatures are acquired from their respective systems, or custodians, then stored and compiled as a complete project.

The design integrates office programs into a three-story, pinwheel-shaped building, offering vertical connectivity between offices, and horizontal connectivity of laboratories, testing areas, and support space for encouraged interaction.

Ensuring project workflows are void of any missing links between custodians is key to the success of this architecture. Complex, novel, and vulnerable interfaces between two systems absent of an existing communication platform no longer thrive. This architecture relies on two robust, ubiquitous, and secure interface methods. The first is referred to as a flat file/folder interface; used for batch volumes of data, such as recipes or chemistry laboratory results. A Restful API is the second method of communication and is used for small volume, real-time data transfers.

Nearly every platform within this architecture is server based and connected via the PON IP network. With the hardware sharing a common platform and interfaces limited to the aforementioned tried and true methods, adapting any future platform into this architecture is simple.

The new facility and 19-acre CARB campus will be designed and built targeting the highest possible levels of measured sustainability, with the intention to achieve LEED Platinum certification and meet California’s CALGreen Tier 2 threshold for overall sustainability and energy efficiency.

Project Leaders