Nonprofits Insurance Alliance of California Headquarters

Santa Cruz, California

Nonprofits Insurance Alliance of California (NIAC), founded 31 years ago to fill the void of providing insurance to non-profit organizations, desired a new headquarters to serve as its operation’s nerve center. With a head for insurance and a heart for community service, the client took the same approach to the design of their new campus: deeply comfortable using passive and active systems, nurturing both focused and collaborative spaces, flooded with daylight, and inspired by views of the coastline with a native courtyard. The building also serves as a community resource with a reservable multipurpose room and garden with outside access. Studio apartments are provided for visiting affiliates.  

This three-story climate-responsive building echoes the rugged terraced outcrops of the Northern California coast and is designed to optimize its coastal environment.  Inspired by Feng Shui design principles, the structure is organized around a courtyard creating a refuge and quiet space to collect one’s thoughts and connect with water and sky.  

The headquarters dynamically takes advantage of its surroundings – the building breathes. The wind off the Pacific flows through windows that open to balance indoor spaces through natural ventilation. Given the need for continuous operation, resilience was a primary goal, resulting in a Net Zero Energy building with on-site battery storage. Rooftop PV arrays capture energy stored in a battery storage system allows for up to a week of continuous operation. Motorized shades, connected to the BMS system, are programmed to open and close, as do windows to manage daylight and ambient temperature as the building temperature adjusts with a radiant slab.


Nonprofits Insurance Alliance of California


26,000 SF


Jesse Beer

Energy Use Intensity

Measured: -3 kbtu/sf/yr


Interior Design