LEED ID+C: Commercial Interiors v2.0
Cooper Carry Offices at 191 Peachtree St
Atlanta, GA 30303
LEED Platinum 2010
* This profile has been peer-reviewed by a USGBC-selected team of technical experts.
The below stakeholder perspectives address the following LEED credits:
EAc1.1, EAc1.2, EAc1.3, EAc1.4, EQc3.1, EQc8.1, EQc8.3, MRc4.1, MRc4.2, MRc5.1
Goals and motivations
What were the top overarching goals and objectives?
From its conception, the relocated office of our international design firm had a key goal of achieving LEED for Commercial Interiors 2.0 Platinum certification. As signatories of the Architecture 2030 Challenge and the AIA's 2030 Commitment, we realized that reducing COOPER CARRY's own carbon footprint was central to the firm's belief that change must come from within. This move really represented a way for us to demonstrate to our clients the firm's stance on sustainability, and to fully showcase our abilities to marry the ideals of sustainability with those of great design and real functionality.
What were the motivations to pursue LEED certification and how did they influence the project?
- Design Innovation
- Integrated Design Process
- Organizational Priority
Two goals informed the design of COOPER CARRY's downtown Atlanta office: the creation of an aesthetic experience while solving sustainability concerns and the creation of an innovative, open, and flexible space to support a collaborative work environment. Materials, finishes, and furnishings were selected to support the highest level of sustainable design. LEED Platinum certification for Commercial Interiors was established from the initial conceptual visioning session.
What were the most notable strategies used to earn LEED credits?
Energy performance was a high-priority LEED credit for us. To achieve performance levels required for Platinum certification, we sought a 35% reduction in lighting power, daylight-responsive controls, HVAC zoning and controls, and 71% ENERGY STAR-rated appliances. We also reduced lighting power density to minimize energy consumption through fixture selection, daylight-responsive controls, and occupancy lighting controls. We used the Com Check Program (a computer program that calculates wattage use) and Lutron EcoSystem Integration of occupancy sensors, daylight sensors, and digital controls.
The office features open studio space with universal planning and flexibility.
From a planning and design standpoint, we designed the studio spaces without visual physical barriers, thus allowing maximum daylighting and views. Principals' offices have glass partitions that allow daylight to penetrate through to interior areas, and studio desk walls are kept below 42 inches to allow an open, bright studio space.
Please share any additional strategies that did not earn LEED credits.
Moving a couple of hundred architects along with decades' worth of drawings, files, presentations, and materials was a tremendous challenge. We wanted to accommodate not only the design of our new space, but also the actual move itself, as sustainably as possible. We minimized moving materials by using reusable crates, and moving materials were reused or recycled by our relocation company.
Post-move, we established a new housekeeping policy to eliminate plastic and aluminum cans by initiating a free fountain beverage service. We wash tableware to minimize the use of disposable products. We instituted a policy for recyclable materials, with recycling training held for new employee orientation. Recycling centers are located in break rooms and copy rooms while work stations have individual recycling containers only. Firm-wide meetings are held with video conferencing, server access, and web access capabilities, allowing documents to be displayed on screen, saving printing and copying. An inter-office intranet was created to facilitate non-paper correspondence and information sharing. Timesheets, interoffice memos, marketing reports, and many other correspondences are done via email and Human Resource correspondence is web-based. Staff is encouraged to print double-sided copy whenever possible. We purchased two vans and one hybrid-fueled sedan for local meetings, and encourage car pooling for meetings whenever possible. In addition, we now have an on-demand, short-term automobile rental account to accommodate local meeting needs.
Another thoughtful and unique solution that created efficient usable space was the creation of the storage/pinup wall along the building core. The existing columns protruded from the existing core approximately two feet. In lieu of leaving this space unused, the space was captured and enclosed for much-needed sample and box file storage appropriate for an architectural firm. Additionally, the entire surface along the core walls is clad with a surface that can be tacked for display of both finished projects and works in progress. The wall at once becomes an office tour showcase for our work to clients and visitors, a place for each Specialty Practice Group to give personality to its studio, and an educational tool for employees to know what work is in progress in other studios.
What cutting-edge strategies or processes were implemented?
The concept for the project was contrasting between light and dark and between elegant, refined materials and more economical materials. A unique place where these two come together is in the main feature wall in the lobby.
COOPER CARRY Atlanta celebrated its fiftieth year by moving into a new, sustainably-designed office space in the heart of Downtown Atlanta. Designed and certified LEED Platinum and set in a walkable, transit-accessible area of the city center, this relocation is the firm's latest demonstration of its commitment to sustainable urban design.
Although initially considered to be a fine wood veneer panel surface, this became cost-prohibitive and did not strengthen our sustainable message. In response, the design team re-purposed an inexpensive green material - Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) oriented strand board (OSB) - and applied an ebonized finish, which distinguished it as a high-end finish material. The wall, although an inexpensive solution, is noble, elegant, and stately. Unless pointed out specifically, most comment on the perceived expense of the material.
How was the integrative process applied and what was the greatest benefit gained?
The COOPER CARRY studio culture is founded upon collaboration. We cherish our clients, in-house experts, and out-of-house consultants, bringing the team together from the first design meeting to gather input from various stakeholders. Our suburban office's physical space did not match our desire to have a dynamic, creative, and innovative studio culture. Through surveys, interviews, and discussion of COOPER CARRY's vision of the future, we created a planning approach to design an environment focused on community, collaboration, transparency, communication, and participation.
We kept our employees informed and engaged in the design and pre-move progress through our firm-wide intranet. We gleaned lessons learned from our Alexandria office colleagues, who had been awarded LEED Gold for Commercial Interiors just a few years prior. By keeping true to our studio culture, we were able to create a workplace where innovation can thrive, while fostering lifelong learning and keeping us flexible and primed for change. Employee wellbeing and satisfaction is a proven valuable return on investment through high retention rates.
Aside from LEED certification, what do you consider key project successes?
Although achieving LEED Platinum certification was a goal from the onset of the project, another important goal was that the office be an example of our thoughtful design, both aesthetically and functionally. Successful elements included the deliberate use of materials, flexibility, and efficient use of space. As a concept for the space, combining both sustainable ideals and great design set the stage for material selection and appropriation. To represent our breadth of design, the office highlights a contrast of dark to light space; uses more refined materials to more commonplace materials; and applies unique, bold forms in repetition within the universal plan.
This studio area illustrates the project’s economic and sustainable use of materials.
The universal plan in the studio, while maximizing daylighting and views, is also a highly efficient use of space because it allows maximum flexibility to support Specialty Practice Groups' expanding and contracting over time. Additionally, the open studio layout is layered with different levels of collaboration space to support one-on-one interaction and three- to four-member team-based collaboration, as well as 12-person studio discussions and presentations.
What were the most important long- and short-term value-add strategies and what returns on investment (ROI) have been experienced or anticipated?
We have won new clients and retained existing clients through the expression of our sustainable principles through our office move and design.
What project challenges became important lessons learned?
Attaining LEED Platinum certification requires commitment from the onset and many challenges presented themselves throughout the project. Two points that initially started out in the "yes" column were abandoned along the way because of unique challenges.
The first of these was EA Credit 1.4B (Optimize Energy Performance - Equipment and Appliances). Our desktop computers are custom-designed and assembled for our modeling and graphic design and documentation purposes and are not off-the-shelf units. We did not realize this until it came time to submit the credit paper work and the IT Department let the design team know that our desktops were custom and had no verifiable ENERGY STAR rating. Having over 200 desktop computers, we had to include this in the non ENERGY STAR column, which forced us below the required 90%. As time and associated costs prohibited us from applying for the rating, we had to shift this point to the "no" column.
The second challenge on the project was obtaining IEQ Credit 3.2 (Construction Indoor Air Quality Management Plan - Before Occupancy). There was a constant debate over the length of project design between the LEED advisor and the contractor. Due to our desire to achieve Platinum certification, the LEED advisor continued to count this credit in the "yes" column. The contractor maintained that he had never successfully earned this credit using Option B (the air testing method). Although questioned by the mechanical engineer, the design team opted to pursue the point by pursuing the more expensive Option A, which includes an extensive building flush-out protocol. Within a few weeks of occupancy and after a supplemental outside air fan was purchased to meet the flush protocol, we had to abandon this credit. There was not enough time between construction completion and our move-in date to meet the protocol, and the building owner was also hesitant about how the additional fan and flush-out process would affect other tenants.
What was a pivotal moment that impacted the project's direction?
Our original intent was to lease 75,000 square feet over three office levels. Unfortunately, the 2008 economy caused us to reconsider our plans. Because we reduced from the three original floors to two different floors, we had to redesign to a different base building core layout. Ultimately, we made more efficient use of our space and created a workplace that is aligned with our long-term sustainable business plan.
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