Our Denver office is now LEED for Commercial Interiors Gold.
One of Thornton Tomasetti’s newest locations is also among its greenest. Our Denver office was recently awarded LEED for Commercial Interiors (CI) Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Denver is our third office to receive LEED CI status and the second since the release of our corporate sustainability policy, which calls for all new and major office renovations of 4,000 square feet and larger to seek certification.
“We are proud to continue the transformation of the firm’s offices into strong examples of corporate sustainability, and to become Thornton Tomasetti’s first office in the West/Mountain States to achieve LEED Gold certification,” Stan Welton, principal and Denver office leader, said.
The LEED Gold plaque now on display in the Denver office. Photo by Brittany Vigil.
Denver joins Philadelphia, first to achieve LEED certification under the policy, and Chicago, the first office to go LEED Gold. The list of sustainable Thornton Tomasetti offices is rapidly growing. We are pursuing certification for the Kansas City and San Francisco offices, for the Chicago expansion and for the new Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. locations, both of which are to open later this year.
In collaboration with Gensler, the interior architect, Thornton Tomasetti acted as its own LEED consultant and commissioning agent utilizing the expertise of its Sustainability practice and MEP team. Involved in the effort were Ian Johnson, Mike Dowdall and Stan Welton, along with MDP Engineering Group and Crestone Partners, the building’s management company.
As with our other green offices, the LEED certification process in Denver started with the site selection. The Denver office is located at 1400 Wewatta Street, which is LEED certified under the Core and Shell rating system. Since the building is already certified, it made it somewhat easier for our commercial interiors project to achieve of the required number of LEED points. We were awarded 67 LEED points, which is above the LEED Gold threshold of 60 points.
Senior Engineer Nathaniel Spangler enjoys access to natural light from his desk. LEED certification calls for desk partitions to be no more than 42 inches in height so that occupants can have unobstructed views of the outdoors. Photo by Brittany Vigil.
As many of the base building systems were designed with LEED in mind, the water and energy systems within our space were already highly efficient. We also made some improvements. Fixture flow and flush rates were reduced to lower the total amount of water used from each of the lavatory faucets, water closets and the kitchen sink. This reduced water demand by approximately 33 percent. The lighting design utilized strategically placed fixtures and highly efficient lamps to reduce the need for artificial light, which equated to a lighting power reduction of 31 percent. The overall lighting reduction will directly reduce the office’s electricity demand, lowering the overall carbon footprint and energy cost. In addition, occupancy and daylight controls further reduce lighting loads by shutting off or dimming lighting when there is no activity in the room or enough daylight available.
Fixture flow rates in the kitchen sink were reduced, which contributed to an overall reduction in water demand by 33 percent. All appliances in the office have an Energy Star rating.
LEED buildings are typically located downtown with pedestrian-friendly access to public transportation and community services, offering easy points toward LEED CI certification. The Denver office is situated in LoDo, a 25-block historic district in the city’s center. We were able to achieve 17 out of a possible 21 points for sustainable site selection, which includes points for public transportation access and community connectivity.
All furniture in the space meets the Greenguard or ANSI/BIFMA testing standards for low chemical emissions. Carpeting and adhesives meet the CRI’s Green Label and Green Label Plus certifications for indoor air quality testing. These features helped us earn LEED points and to create a more healthful environment for our employees. Many of the products used contained recycled and regional content, and 73 percent of the wood materials were FSC certified.
Another area where our office scored high was innovation. We earned six out of a possible six innovation points. To earn these credits, we used only Energy Star qualified equipment and the team purchased only lights with very low or no mercury content. The office was also awarded credits for being located near several public bus stops. Other measures in this category included the design of educational signage to inform employees and visitors of the space’s green elements and the purchase of green power to offset the total electricity use for the first two years of the office.
All of the furniture in the Denver office meets Greenguard or ANSI/BIFMA testing standards for low chemical emissions, while carpeting and adhesives meet the CRI’s Green Label and Green Label Plus certifications. Photo by Brittany Vigil.
Although our in-house team was able to document many LEED credits, others were best left to the architects, mechanical engineers and contractors. The associated fees for documenting those credits represented the primary cost premium for pursuing LEED certification. In the past, many furniture and building products that were used to achieve LEED credits had high cost premiums, but thanks to increasing demand, most products today contain recycled content or FSC wood and are price competitive.
As more of our offices move forward with certification, it will not only provide employees with healthful and productive spaces, it also demonstrates our leadership role as sustainability consultants and as a firm that embraces the Triple-Bottom Line approach.
– Ian Johnson, project director, Portland
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