28 ways to make a LEED platinum building

A look at ASHRAE's new LEED HQ in Atlanta, Georgia

The ASHRAE headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia in the US
The ASHRAE headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia in the US
Overall water consumption a year was reduced drastically
Overall water consumption a year was reduced drastically
PV arrays on the roof provide on-site renewable energy
PV arrays on the roof provide on-site renewable energy
Refrigerants with low ozone depletion were selected
Refrigerants with low ozone depletion were selected
Refrigerant leak detection system
Refrigerant leak detection system
The building automation system
The building automation system
Electric commercial water heater
Electric commercial water heater
Water-efficient landscaping
Water-efficient landscaping
A dedicated outside-air supply system was used
A dedicated outside-air supply system was used

The ASHRAE headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia in the US has been awarded a LEED Platinum rating, the highest certification available. MEP Middle East takes a closer look at the project as a landmark case study in green building.

As an innovator in energy-efficient technology, ASHRAE felt its headquarters should serve as a showcase of sustainability. “The resulting design truly reflects that sentiment, as well as how ASHRAE standards and guidelines can be put into practice to result in a high-performance building,” said ASHRAE president Gordon Holness.

“While our first objective was to provide a healthy, comfortable and productive environment for our staff, we also wanted to set an example of what can be done to renovate existing buildings. Given that 75% to 80% of all existing buildings will still be around in 2030, our greatest opportunity for a sustainable future is through the upgrade and retrofit of these buildings,” said Holness.

Built in 1965, the building was known as the Wausau Building until 1981, when ASHRAE purchased it and moved its headquarters from New York to Atlanta. It was renovated extensively in 1981, with another major interior renovation taking place from 1991 to 1992. Changes here included reconfiguration of interior space for additional office space. The decision to commit to a comprehensive revamp was taken by the board of directors on 25 January 2006.

ASHRAE aimed to earn 55 LEED points out of a potential total of 69 under LEED NC 2.2. It ultimately earned 54 LEED points (37 design and 17 construction). This meant a coveted Platinum rating. Below is a full listing of the building’s features and how they relate to the LEED requirements:

1 Site selection: It was a greyfield site, which eliminated the impact on environmentally-sensitive areas such as prime farmland, flood zone, endangered species habitat, wetlands, etc.

2 Development density and community connectivity: The site was within a half mile radius of three residential zones and at least ten basic services.

3 Alternative transportation, public transportation access, parking capacity: The site is within a quarter mile of two public bus lines. On-site bike storage and a shower and changing room were provided. Ten per cent of the parking spaces in preferred locations was allocated to carpool and low-emitting/fuel-efficient vehicles.

4 Maximise open space: The amount of vegetated open space was increased by 45.2% above the local code requirement.

5 Stormwater management: The amount of site run-off was reduced by 31%. The run-off rate was reduced by 30% through increased vegetated open space, green roofs and a stormwater detention system. In addition, a bio-retention system treats 90% of the annual rainfall volume to remove 80% of the total suspended solids.

6 Heat island effect: Polycon Manufacturing Inc. installed a SlurryKote material with a solar reflectance index of 32 over more than 50% of the asphalt parking lot to minimise the heat-island effect. A white reflective roof membrane with a solar reflectance index of 78 was installed to minimise the heat-island effect.

7 Light pollution reduction: Light trespass/sky glow from the building and site was minimised. Nighttime visibility was improved through glare reduction and reduced development impact on nocturnal environments through the careful selection of interior and exterior light fixtures.

8 Water-efficient landscaping: The landscaping has been updated and the need for landscaping irrigation eliminated.

9 Innovative wastewater technologies: The estimated water consumption a year for bathrooms was reduced from 133 100 gallons/year to 63 500 gallons/year (a 52.3% reduction) by utilising low-flow fixtures.

10 Water-use reduction: The estimated overall annual water consumption per year was reduced from 253 021 gallons/year to 135 921 gallons/year (a 46.3% reduction) by utilising low-flow fixtures. When compared with the old building’s water usage, the savings are even greater, with an estimated 79% reduction in annual water consumption.

11 Optimise energy performance : The estimated annual energy usage was reduced by more than 32.5% through enhancements to the building envelope and use of a dedicated outside air supply (DOAS) with energy recovery, ground-source heat pumps and mini-split systems with heat recovery. Nine out ten potential points were earned for this credit.

12 On-site renewable energy: GA Power demonstrated how PV arrays can be utilised to generate clean power by taking advantage of under-utilised space on the building’s roof. It is estimated that the installed array will provide more than 8% of the building’s total annual energy cost as renewable energy.

13 Enhanced commissioning: The enhanced commissioning process from ASHRAE Guideline 0 was used.

14 Enhanced refrigerant management: Refrigerants were selected that minimise the emission of compounds that contribute to ozone depletion and global warming. In addition, a refrigerant leak detection system from Thermal Gas Systems is used to identify potential system leaks early.

15 Measurement and verification: An extensive measurement and verification system has been implemented to provide for the ongoing accountability of the building performance over time through the ASHRAE Living Lab.

16 Storage and collection of recyclables: ASHRAE staff are working hard to reduce waste generated within the building and hauled to and disposed of in landfills by collecting paper, cardboard, glass, plastics and metal on-site for recycling and by switching to bottle-less water coolers.

17 Building reuse: ASHRAE is showing building owners how to extend the lifecycle of existing building stock, conserve resources and reduce waste and environmental impacts of new buildings by retaining more than 92% of the building structure.

18 Construction waste management: Over 91% of the construction waste from this project was diverted away from landfills and incinerators, and instead redirected back into the manufacturing process as recovered resources.

19 Recycled content: Products and materials made from recycled content make up more than 22% of the total value of the materials for the project.

20 Regional materials: ASHRAE increased the demand for building materials and products extracted and manufactured within 500 miles of the building site by utilising materials from this region, which made up more than 29% of the total value of the project materials.

21 Outdoor air delivery monitoring: An air quality monitoring system from Aircuity is helping sustain occupant comfort and well-being in the renovated building.

22 Increased ventilation: ASHRAE and Trane worked together to provide a 6000 CFM dedicated outside air system for the building, which can provide ventilation rates to each space 30% higher than Standard 62.1-2004.

23 Construction IAQ management plan: GAY Construction Company helped to reduce IAQ problems resulting from the construction/renovation process in order to help sustain the comfort and well-being of construction workers and building occupants by developing and following a construction IAQ management plan. Air-quality tests done just prior to occupancy validated the intended results of this plan and eliminated the need for a lengthy, energy-consuming, air flush-out process.

24 Low-emitting materials: Interface Carpet helped to reduce the quantity of indoor air contaminants that are odorous, irritating and/or harmful to the comfort and well-being of installers and occupants.

25 Thermal comfort: A comfortable thermal environment supports the productivity and well-being of all building occupants by adhering to the requirements of ASHRAE Standard 55 and by surveying occupants for feedback on a regular basis.

26 Sustainable education: ASHRAE is utilising its headquarters to educate design professionals and the general public on the sustainable features and processes used to renovate the building and site in order to expand and enhance the awareness of green design principles and its impact on the environment.

27 Green cleaning policy and integrated pest management (IPM) programme: This reduces the exposure of building occupants and maintenance personnel to potentially hazardous chemical, biological and particulate contaminants, which adversely affect air quality, human health, building finishes, building systems and the environment.

28 Building envelope commissioning: ASHRAE took the extra step of commissioning the building envelope (new and existing sections) to further reduce energy consumption and improve occupant comfort and indoor air quality.

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