ConstructionPro Week, Volume: Construction Advisor Today - Issue: 17 - 08/20/2009

USGBC Building Earns First Platinum Rating Under Updated LEED System

 The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has achieved the Platinum certification of its new Washington, D.C., headquarters -- making it the first project to certify under the latest version of the LEED green building rating system.

This occasion also marks the official opening of its new headquarters, which opened in March 2009. The office is located in the Foggy Bottom district of Northwest Washington, D.C., less than a half-mile from four Metro stations and numerous bus stops. More than 35,000 projects are currently participating in the LEED system, comprising over 5.6 billion square feet of construction space in all 50 states and 91 countries. The new office space triples the size of its previous space, reflective of the green building industry itself, which is projected to soar to $60 billion by 2010.

"The vision of the space was to exemplify everything a LEED building is: high-performing, resource-efficient, healthy and productive," said Rick Fedrizzi, USGBC president, chief executive officer and founding chair. "Using the newest version of the rating system renders our space on the cutting edge of building science and technology, and will serve as an educational learning lab and highly representative of a transforming building market."

The 75,000-square-foot office, divided between two floors, is connected by an open staircase in the bright lobby, behind which is one of the space's most prominent design features -- a two-story water feature, which helps bring the outdoors inside the space. The elevator lobby, reception and conference breakout areas are clad in 500-year-old gumwood that was salvaged from the bottom of the Tennessee River. Carved into a two-story section of the gumwood paneling is an off-centered relief of the USGBC logo that clearly brands the space.


The vision of the new headquarters was not only to be a collaborative office space, but also an educational learning lab. Tours of the new office suites will be available to the public to showcase USGBC's green building principles.


Aggressive water and energy reduction goals were set to reduce water use by 40 percent and energy use to be less than half that of a typical office. A dashboard system was implemented to provide real-time feedback on energy use. Floor to ceiling glass windows provide abundant daylighting to any workstation in the office, and the electronic window shade system maximizes natural light while minimizing glare. These and other design integrations helped USGBC achieve 36 out of 37 points in the Energy and Atmosphere category of the rating system.


The planning, design and construction of the new headquarters was a rigorous 12-month process from site selection to move-in. Prospective buildings were evaluated on various metrics, including green provisions such as recycling programs and the desire to seek certification for the entire building. With three out of five tenants and six out of the 10 floors in the building either certified or undergoing certification, a Vornado Realty Trust property was selected as the location.


Architecture firm Envision Design was selected because of its extensive LEED project portfolio. GHT Limited Consulting Engineers and James G. Davis Construction Corporation were chosen as the engineering and construction firms, respectively. All members of the design, engineering and construction teams are LEED Accredited Professionals.


The Learning Pathway corridor serves as a living case study to understand the integrative sustainable design techniques of the new headquarters. Along it, the Material Wall contains flashcards of every material used in the facility, detailing its origin and utility. The Performance Dashboard is a flat panel television in the reception area that details the performance metrics of the space. The Progress Wall exhibits metrics such as LEED membership, types of LEED projects, LEED APs and World Green Building Councils. The display is surrounded by a timeline of significant environmental and green movement achievements ranging from biblical times to the present. Favorite inspirational quotes submitted by employees are painted in the form of an oak tree with its branches extending along the length of the wall entitled, "What We Believe."

"The committed group of individuals who work for USGBC, our unlikely diverse coalition of member companies who range across every industry, and our donors, whose generosity made the dream of this office a reality, ardently carry out our mission of a sustainable built environment within a generation," said Fedrizzi. "The green building movement is as versatile as it gets. Building projects of every size, scale and budget are seizing control of our collective environmental challenges and are implementing the solutions."




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