LEED CI for Commercial Interiors – August 16, 2006

August 17, 2006

Thanks to all who attended our August 2006 forum, Summer Fun with Interiors, Part II of II

So your building envelope is green… now, you must tackle the inside of it.

Greening the interior is yet another challenge in the rewarding process toward making your building’s living, working, and recreational spaces environmentally sensible, aesthetically pleasant, and healthy for its occupants.

As part of our summer 2006 series on Interiors, our August forum looked at what it takes to green the inside of your building. What better way to do this than to give you the scoop on the new green building guidelines for Commercial Interiors (LEED CI) and learn firsthand about LEED CI projects under way from an impressive speaker line up?

Speakers: Murray Levi, LiRo Architects Planners, P.C.
Joe Lauro, Gensler

Where: Pratt Institute’s Manhattan Campus @ 144 West 14th Street

The Green Building Forum is held on the third Wednesday of each month (except December) @6:30 PM and features presentations by green building practitioners followed by discussion. The events are always free and open to the general public. Please RSVP by email to: rsvp@GreenHomeNYC.org. View the notes and related information from all our past forums here, and look for details on upcoming forums on our events calendar.


FORUM SUMMARY


Nowadays, building green is clearly gaining momentum. Associated with building green, we often hear that businesses large and small, developers, builders, architects, engineers and government would like their building projects to attain LEED® certification. To help us learn more about the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program, the GreenHomeNYC August forum eagerly welcomed its two guest speakers Murray Levi and Joe Lauro. Murray Levi, a member of the Board of Directors of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), NY Chapter and an architect with LiRo Architects & Planners, P.C., gave an overview of LEED and its Green Building Rating Systemâ„¢. Joe Lauro, a LEED-Accredited Professional and an architect with Gensler, discussed the design and construction of Gensler’s new office in New York City as it strives to achieve LEED certification.Before we can even discuss the LEED program, Murray Levi first invites us to view and ponder poignant images of nature, and that of our planet Earth taken from space. He reminds us that we are lucky to be living on this planet and that all life on it is interrelated. This interconnectedness is fragile and Murray gives us some alarming facts on how human consumption, particularly in the U.S. have contributed to its damage. Energy usage in the U.S. has quadrupled since 1952, a rate that is two times that of population growth. North America consumes 30% of all energy used in the world, while accounting for only 7% of the world’s population. The US consumes 120 lbs. of raw materials per person per day – these are based on 2002 calculations, but with the economic growth of China and India, this data is ever changing. By listing some of these dreadful facts, Murray illustrates for us a consciousness that is being raised.

Asking: why is this relevant to the building industry?; The answer lies in the fact that buildings make up a tremendous part of our consumption and destruction of resources. But by breaking old, destructive habits, people have the ability to make a remarkable impact. We know that building green is one way to make that positive impact, but LEED is able to define “green” building by providing a standard measurement. It is a checklist of points that that make building sustainability viable.

As described on the USGBC website, www.USGBC.org, the LEED Green Building Rating System is a voluntary, consensus-based national standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings. Based on well-founded scientific standards, LEED emphasizes state of the art strategies for sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

LEED provides a complete framework for assessing building performance and meeting sustainability goals. Based on a system of prerequisites and credits, LEED projects earn points during the certification process and then are awarded one of the four certification levels: Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Currently at LEED Version 3.0, the first standard was for the rating of a suburban office building. But now, there is an array of new LEED products:

  • LEED-NC: New commercial construction and major renovation projects
  • LEED-EB: Existing building operations
  • LEED-CI: Commercial interiors projects
  • LEED-CS: Core and shell projects
  • LEED-H: Homes
  • LEED-ND: Neighborhood development

LEED Application Guides provide specific advice on how to apply LEED in cases where technical features of the buildings or the buildings’ processes may demand special treatment, and on any special exceptions or interpretations. The following application guides are currently available for Retail, Multiple Buildings/Campuses, Schools, Healthcare, Laboratories, and Lodging. In order to achieve a LEED certification, the following are steps taken:

  • 1) Register your project. Registering during the early phases of project design will ensure maximum potential for achieving certification.
  • 2)Technical Support and Review. Submittals for each prerequisite and credit are reviewed for compliance. According to Murray, none of this is ever black and white.
  • 3)Building Certification.

To earn LEED certification, the applicant project must satisfy all of the prerequisites and a minimum number of points to attain a LEED rating level.We were fortunate enough at this forum to learn from Joe Lauro of Gensler, about a specific project underway that will earn a LEED-CI (Commercial Interiors) certification. Joe shared with us how the design and construction of Gensler’s new office at Rockefeller Center aims to achieve a Silver level of certification. As a LEED Accredited Professional, Joe is responsible for coordinating the project to ensure LEED requirements are met. Currently in its construction phase, the interior is scheduled to be completed by October 1, 2006.

At the start of the design phase, the Gensler project team made a decision to hire their construction manager immediately. This not only enabled the construction manager to be integrated in the design process from the beginning, but allowed Gensler, who was of course both the architect and owner, to get pricing up front.

After Project Registration and Integration of the design team, the next step was Technical Support. The USGBC has established a review process for registered project inquiries, called credit interpretation requests (CIRs), to ensure that rulings are consistent and available to other projects. Whenever a project team encounters difficulties applying a LEED prerequisite or credit to their specific project, they can review the LEED CIR page or submit a new CIR. This being his second LEED project (his first was a LEED-NC project), Joe said that CIR’s are invaluable, with each new CIR costing $220.

The next step of LEED Application Documentation submittal had actually started from day one, with everyone on the project team: architect, consultants, engineers, and contractor assembling documentation and calculations from the start. Following the LEED-CI Checklist/Scorecard, which indicates projected prerequisites and credits, the project team could always ask the construction manager, “Can we achieve that”? and get an idea early on of what could be done to earn the project points. Balancing environmental and economic performance, the quick paybacks for their project were energy savings and reduced operating costs. This did not necessarily give them LEED points, but were a benefit regardless.

With Site Selection as a credit, points are earned when selecting a sustainable site. Gensler wanted to stay in Rockefeller Center. Since the selected building sits above the 47th-50th Streets/Rockefeller Center subway station, the project received points for this. For the Development Diversity credit, they received points because of the underground concourse below their building. For the Water Efficiency credit, points are earned when water-use reduction is 20% and 30%; here the project will hopefully be receiving points. Also under Water Efficiency, it is possible to receive points when using Innovative Waste Water Technologies. The project team is hoping to use a waterless urinal, although the product may not be available until Day 2.

Under the Energy & Atmosphere credit, efficient window treatments were selected. This was one way to satisfy the credit since the project is within an existing base building and could not touch the envelope of the building. They also ensured interior lighting was efficient. Motion sensors and/or timers are used to switch lights on and off; while automatic shut-off of lights are prompted when rooms are unoccupied for a certain period of time.

Addressing the Construction Waste Management credit, there was reclamation of 75% to 90% of demoed materials including carpets and ceiling tiles. As for the Materials & Resources credit, a prerequisite of Storage & Collection of Recyclables was called for. Originally, the building owner did not have a recycling operation in place, but the project team was able to convince the building to establish one! Imperative to this credit is the use of materials that are of recycled content, locally produced, recyclable, and/or renewable. Cork on doors and bamboo flooring were specified at every opportunity. Certified wood was used for all millwork, earning the project 6 points plus 2 points for recycled content.

The objective of Construction Indoor Environmental Quality Management Plan credit is to create a healthy space. The HVAC system in this case unfortunately, could not tie with the base building’s mechanical, so no points were gained here. However they were able to vent copier and printer areas by tying into the building core. Under this credit, Joe is hopeful that they receive points for providing daylight to everyone within the space. In it, everyone has a view.

As in all projects, budget and time are determining factors on the result of a project. But as Joe concluded that by identifying points and goals early on and by having the buy-in of all project team members, including the contractor who plays an important role, achieving a LEED certified project on budget and on time is indeed possible. Gensler’s new office in Rockefeller Center proves this. By not segregating sustainability from design, the Gensler office will be a prime example of a beautiful and responsible interior space.

At the end of the presentation, when asked about the higher expense with building green, both speakers agreed that there is no cost premium. It is how you approach the project and issues that can result in a cost effective yet sustainable building. Research is an important part of specification and design. And with the LEED framework and guidance in place, building green, rather building intelligently, is certainly even more attainable.

For more information on LEED certification, visit www.USGBC.org and click on the LEED tab.

Maria Sagbaicela

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