Brian Pobuda photo
For the past eight weeks, John Abruzzo, Peter Lassetter, Lynn Simon and Carl Wilford in the Northern California offices have been touring office spaces in and around San Francisco’s Financial District that could comfortably house the two Bay Area Thornton Tomasetti locations. The team was looking for a building that had been previously certified under the LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance Rating System. In addition, it was imperative that the space provide excellent daylighting and access to views, and be located in proximity to transit and key services, such as superior coffee and green dry cleaners. After touring 15-20 buildings, they pinpointed a space near the intersection of California and Kearny, alongside a key route of San Francisco’s Cable Cars.
Concurrent with this search, a group of Thornton Tomasetti Sustainability practice members held a LEED Kick-Off meeting in February to start strategizing for the upcoming office space merge, bringing our Oakland and San Francisco offices together in one location. Individuals from our Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Portland, ME offices participated in this discussion. The project’s space planners and interior designers from Gensler were present as well Jeff Blaevoet, mechanical engineer and principal of Guttmann & Blaevoet, who provided insight on potential energy and water conservation measures and their cutting end technologies.
At the outset of the charrette, Simon explained that this certification would be different from those pursued in the past by Thornton Tomasetti because the project is registered as a LEED for Commercial Interiors version 4 pilot project. Various factors influenced this decision: our Building Sustainability practice wants to set the bar high internally and also to demonstrate to our clients and partners what the breadth of our practice can accomplish. The team wants to demonstrate true leadership in the profession and a pilot certification would set us apart. As a result, we plan to target a LEED Platinum certification.
Since the new office space certification is under the not-yet-released-or-balloted version 4 rating system, we will be assessing the system for potential bug fixes and analyzing the clarity of LEED Reference Guide language. This process will have its drawbacks, but will also offer major benefits, not the least of which is direct access to a key point person at GBCI who will help guide the team through the process. Typically, the LEED certification progression is conducted in a faceless, anonymous manner, which causes challenges in interpretation and delays in final certification. The arrangement will benefit our overall Building Sustainability practice by giving us advance knowledge, insight and increased agility with the v 4 rating system once it’s released later in 2013. A Yammer account has been opened specifically for all participants in the pilot process to exchange information among the project participants and obtain critical input and clarification. As one of these projects, our new office space will be given high visibility when certification is achieved.
Further blog entries will keep pace with this new certification process. For now, the team is off to a productive start, having used our LEED Priority Matrix tool to guide the effort. Accompanied by our “Sustainable Office Operations Guidelines,” the team identified LEED credits with high and low likelihoods of being achieved. At the end of the exercise, we came up with 80 “yes” points, 19 “maybe” points and 11 “no” points, placing the project at the edge of Platinum territory.
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