LEED ID+C: Commercial Interiors v2009
Cannon Design Chicago Office Relocation
LEED Platinum 2012
The below stakeholder perspectives address the following LEED credits:
EQc8.2, WEc1, MRc4, MRc5
Goals and motivations
What were the top overarching goals and objectives?
The vision for the project was to develop a high-performance office space that reinforces a design culture and enables collaboration. Three overriding goals guided the project's sustainability strategies:
- Reduce and measure the environmental impact of resource consumption, particularly energy and water use
- Research environmental characteristics of building products, including in-depth analysis of the embodied energy of materials used in the new space that the Cannon Design team has used to inform design decisions on subsequent projects
- Establish a reproducible standard for performance and environmental responsibility for interior build-outs of office space within market-rate lease structures.
The final goal in particular addresses a major environmental issue. Leased space makes up a majority of the more than 12 billion square feet of office space in the United States (approximately 18% of all non-residential building stock) (U.S. Energy Information Administration CBECS 2003). Setting a high standard for sustainability within office real estate can create significant positive environmental impact.
Cannon Design regularly works with clients to advise on site selection and design tenant spaces, so this new office serves as a real-life case study and living laboratory for sustainability in commercial office design.
What were the most notable strategies used to earn LEED credits?
Energy Efficiency and Carbon Footprint
As with many interior build-out projects, lighting and plug loads are the primary factors within the tenant's control in reducing energy consumption and CO2 emissions. Site selection played a factor in terms of the building landlord's energy consumption, so Cannon Design selected a building that is Energy Star certified and had received LEED-EBOM Gold Certification.
An interactive sustainability reporting dashboard occupies a prominent space in the heart of the office-immediately adjacent to the library and central gathering space. This dashboard tracks real-time energy consumption within the office and also displays other key annual environmental measures for the office, including waste management, water consumption and vehicle miles traveled. Collaboration technology and video conferencing facilities reduced office employees' need for air travel, which further reduced the owner's office's carbon footprint. The local utility incentive program included technical assistance from Energy Center of Wisconsin to evaluate decisions as the project was in design. Using the savings projected through the utility energy model, Cannon Design was able to offset some of the cost premiums for the energy saving features in the new space, including LED lighting in collaboration spaces and daylight harvesting sensors for all areas in which the technology would be effective.
Predicted EUI: 31.1 kBtu/sf/year
Lighting Power Density: 0.55 W/sf (45% better than ASHRAE standards)
Photo by Christopher Barrett
Indoor Environmental Quality
In our employee survey, daylight was highly ranked as one of the important factors in making for a productive work environment, so ensuring that employees could connect to natural light became one of the driving factors of this project. Using an open workstation plan for all of the personal workspace, Cannon Design achieved a comfortable, well-illuminated work environment and a high level of lighting performance while pursuing an aggressive lighting power density of 0.55 W/sf. Daylight monitoring is incorporated in key areas across each of the shared floors based on optimal placement determined by modeling the daylight entering the space in its very urban context.
In a typical tenant build-out, the base building plumbing systems are not included in the scope of work within the tenant's control. In this case, Cannon Design considered water conservation an important part of its core business and elected to invest in replacing the plumbing fixtures in toilet rooms. The design called for significant water savings from super-efficient flow and flush valves throughout the space.
Reduction in potable water: 41% from baseline
Rainwater managed on-site: 17%
Materials, Construction and Embodied Energy
Responsible material, furniture and finish selection was a particularly important factor in this interior build-out. These components drove the look-and-feel of the project and made up the majority of the inputs from the budget and resource consumption. Close collaboration with the general contractor led to using materials that contain high recycled content (34% by value using LEED criteria) as well as regionally sourced materials (63% by value manufactured within 500 miles).
Photo by Christopher Barrett
The design team studied a number of materials to define the black box meeting space in the center of the office before deciding to use local, high-recycled content steel to define the walls of the space and evoke the industrial character of Chicago. In other cases, the design team elected to reduce the project's material impact by electing to use the existing building's raw space as a design feature-for instance, ceilings in the majority of the office is open to the unfinished bottom of the floor slab and the office corridors and circulation spaces called for laying a protective low-VOC epoxy coating on the tower's existing floor as opposed to applying a more conventional, resource-intensive finished floor material on top of the concrete slab.
The office relocation provided a special opportunity to perform industry-leading, Cannon Design-funded research on the embodied energy of building materials used in the project. The building industry has primarily focused on reducing operational energy of buildings. However, the manufacturing and transportation of building materials account for about 6% of all energy used annually in the U.S. (Source: Architecture 2030 and US Energy Information Administration (2009) ).
By tracking the embodied energy of new materials used in this office build-out, Cannon Design has developed new approaches for materials selection. Our calculation accounted for re-purposed materials and furniture as adding zero embodied energy to our project total. This strategy encouraged our project team to think about the benefits of re-use and focus on the impact that results from producing and consuming building materials. We determined that the energy embodied in the materials used in our project build-out equate to at least 3+ years of the energy consumed by the company's operation within the space.
Aside from LEED certification, what do you consider key project successes?
The project has been instrumental in increasing collaboration within this office by creating casual and formal collaboration spaces immediately adjacent to workspaces as well as easing our interaction with other Cannon Design offices via well-integrated video conference and work sharing technologies. The project has provided a great model for other Cannon Design offices to follow in terms of environmental commitment and workplace strategy. Cannon Design's Washington DC office relocated on a timeline that started as the Chicago office was being constructed. The Washington office design team was able to use the knowledge learned in the Chicago office implementation and has targeted a similar level of achievement. A number of lessons learned teleconferences helped allow both teams to share insights and make informed decisions. The Chicago office relocation has also been used as a case study in a number of Cannon Design-organized learning sessions, so that the research from this project can inform future design projects-particularly commercial interior build-outs.
Courtesy of Cannon Design
The space plan and generous floorplate have enabled the firm to host a wider range of public and client-focused events within the office, which is fundamental to fulfilling Cannon Design's vision. The central gathering space encourages this kind of interaction and has been a boon to creative collaboration and sending a clear message about sustainability as an inherent characteristic of leading-edge workplaces. An interactive sustainability reporting dashboard occupies a prominent space in the heart of the office-immediately adjacent to the library and central gathering space. This dashboard tracks real-time energy consumption within the office and also displays other key annual environmental measures for the office, including waste management, water consumption and vehicle miles traveled.
Photo by Christopher Barrett
The material embodied energy research that Cannon Design undertook as part of this project has become an important part of our practice, and we are expanding its scope to include more projects, a broader range of materials and better, more refined data. One key outcome of the project has been strengthening Cannon Design's commitment to encourage manufacturers of building products to consider energy consumption and carbon emissions in their processes and supply chains.
The project benefitted from having an experienced team of professionals-all of whom had worked on multiple LEED for Commercial Interiors projects. The commitment to pursue LEED Platinum certification from the earliest stages of the process allowed the design and construction team to understand the implications of that goal as we refined and estimated costs during multiple design iterations.
This consistent interaction allowed the project to arrive at a reasonable, consolidated list of strategies with budgets and payback estimates for consideration as we moved through the project. By the time the project established a guaranteed maximum price GMP, the entire project team had a clear understanding of the decision-making process and the quality, schedule, first cost and long-term cost implications of each adjustment.
Photo by Christopher Barrett
In general, the experience of the team allowed the LEED submittal and review process to run smoothly, and as a result there were very few documentation challenges or policy difficulties. This past experience taught the project team that an integrative process with open communication and upfront planning helped to ensure that the project goals, including sustainability targets, were clear to all team members. Also, early collaboration meant that each team member had a clear understanding of responsibilities in terms of documenting the project's LEED pursuit.
Cannon Design was very conscientious of maintaining budget while delivering a high performance office build-out. The terms of the lease agreement provided a tenant improvement allowance, and project leadership was rigorous about ensuring that this allowance would be sufficient to cover all of the project's hard and soft costs.
Cannon Design was diligent in tracking expenses and determined that achieving LEED Platinum certification relative to a market-standard solution for the project required a 2.5% premium, which Cannon Design factored into its budget allowance. This premium included construction costs for replacing the fixtures in toilet rooms with water-efficient models, specifying LED fixtures in select areas beyond the project's base design package and additional HVAC controls for shared spaces as well as fees for the third-party commissioning provider.
This level of project quality, budget and schedule control is the result of very close coordination among the client, design and construction team. A number of the processes the team followed on this project have informed subsequent projects, including methods for ensuring successful value engineering is done at a relatively early stage of the project design.
Meeting a high-performance standard for water-efficiency was a particular challenge for this project (as is true for many commercial interior build-out projects). The base building toilet room fixtures were efficient at the time of their installation but were not up to current standards and would not meet the current LEED-CI standards for water use reduction. At the start of this project, the base building fixtures were going to be left as-is (common in most commercial lease agreements), but the project team addressed this issue with the landlord at the start of the project, which allowed improvements to the flow and flush rates to be underwritten in the lease agreement and meant that Cannon Design, our contractor and the landlord could work together on a creative solution that reduced the cost impact of making the improvements and allowed the project to achieve a 40%+ reduction from the water-use baseline.
What was the value of applying LEED to this project?
In 2011, Cannon Design established a policy of seeking LEED Platinum certification for any new construction or renovation of the company's leased offices worldwide. This project was the first opportunity to put this policy into practice, and by reaching the certification within the Chicago office project, the firm's subsequent office projects are better able to follow suit.
Courtesy of Cannon Design
It was also very important to achieve this LEED Platinum certification within the limitations of a standard market-rate, commercial transaction to reinforce that the market is capable of supporting a high level of achievement in sustainability.
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