LEED ID+C: Commercial Interiors v2009
Dallas, TX 75202
LEED Gold 2011
The below stakeholder perspectives address the following LEED credits:
WEc1, SSc3.1, MRc2, EQc3.1, MRc3.2, MRc4, EQc4.1, EQc8.1, EAc1.1, EAc1.2, EQc6.1, EQc6.1, EQc7.1, EAc3, EQc3.2, EAc1.3, EQc4.4
* This profile has been peer-reviewed by a USGBC-selected team of technical experts.
Goals and motivations
What were the top overarching goals and objectives?
The following were the sustainability goals for this project:
- To design a space that encouraged the collaborative and creative teamwork essential in the architecture and engineering industry.
- To design a space in which every person had a clear view of the outside, and lighting and air quality that encouraged work and health.
- To design a space that incorporated the latest communication technologies, such as video conferencing and smart boards, to enhance communication among staff, between offices, and with clients.
- To develop a sustainability policy that created green initiatives appropriate for each office's capability to achieve them.
- To make the Dallas office and corporate headquarters a leader in carrying out its Green Initiatives, including through space design, recycling efforts, and a green cleaning plan.
- To achieve LEED Gold.
What were the motivations to pursue LEED certification and how did they influence the project?
- Cost/Utility Savings
- Integrated Design Process
- Market Competitiveness
- Organizational Policy
- Policy/Code Requirement
- Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT) Reduction
- Waste Reduction/Avoidance
The decision to move the Dallas office after 25 years in the same building was initiated by the competitive market created by the 2009 economic slowdown. Simply put, it was a value proposition: quality of building, location, and amenities for the price. Once we determined that 1717 McKinney was the best value, we had the opportunity to pursue LEED certification for our space due in part to the new building's efforts to achieve LEED Gold. The City of Dallas green building ordinance influenced our decision but it was more of a lateral influence. We encouraged the City of Dallas to consider developing a green building ordinance for commercial interior finish-outs because there was not one. In the end, we were committed to sustainable design in our practice and desired our space to reflect that commitment.
What were the most notable strategies used to earn LEED credits?
It was decided that the existing base building urinals (0.5 gallon-per-flush) would be replaced with new urinals (0.125 gallon-per-flush) to increase the total water reduction to 36%. This additional reduction allowed the team to achieve two additional points for a minimal cost. This was not a part of the lease negotiation; we had to pay for the fixtures and repairs to the tiles resulting from the replacement, but the team decided that it was the right thing to do.
Locating this project within a LEED-certified base building was an important strategy. At the beginning of the project, indoor environmental quality was a very large concern, especially coming from the previous space we had been in for the past 25 years. Mr. Zollars felt that locating to a new building that was LEED-certified would help increase the indoor air quality and reduce energy use for heating and cooling. A primary reason for selecting this particular base building was easy access for clients and employees. We're located in the uptown area of Dallas in the cross-hairs of many major roads, near several mass transit options, and within easy walking distance of restaurants and other amenities. Mr. Zollars offers all employees in the Dallas office a choice between parking in the parking garage or mass transit passes.
Another strong focus of this project was recycling. During both construction and the move, we diverted more than 96 tons of material from the landfill, totaling just over 81%; the contractor, alone, recycled about 5.5 tons of construction material. More would have been recycled, but the State of Texas prohibits gypsum wall board from being recycled if it contains fiberglass, and all fire-rated wall board contains this material. Post-construction, we have continued our recycling efforts by providing each workstation with trash and recycling bins, and locating recycling bins throughout the office in break rooms, vending areas, conference rooms, and near printers and plotters. We've also established a green team, which is implementing new sustainable initiatives in each of the eight other Huitt-Zollars offices.
The recycling and trash bays in the kitchen area make it easy and convenient for employees to dispose of their recyclables and trash properly. Photo courtesy of Huitt-Zollars.
Currently, we are working with Granite Properties, from whom we lease, to partner with local recycling facilities on a high-rise recycling program for office buildings, specifically in tracking on a tenant-by-tenant basis. Our recycling presently gets mixed with that of other tenants and tracking is done through simple math to determine the amount per tenant over time. We're working with Granite to identify opportunities for individual tracking and to make tenant recycling easier.
One of the most notable strategies was in the materials used on this project. The materials were carefully chosen to uphold the standards set forth to obtain LEED certification and be as sustainable as possible.
We reused 56 tons of office furniture from the old office by, among other things, refinishing the conference room tables and refurbishing about half of the cubicles by cutting them down to a 44-inch height to match the new ones.
The ceiling tiles and suspension system are composed of recycled content and also contributed to daylighting strategies. The white ceiling tiles are of high light reflectance with 90% of the light striking the surface reflecting back into the space, extending the amount of daylight reaching the office's inner areas. The ceiling tiles are made of mineral fibers that have low or no added formaldehyde emissions, contributing to indoor air quality. The wall coverings used throughout the office are made with 37% post-consumer recycled polyester and the Tek-Wal parable wall covering is also a low-emitting material that is Green Guard certified.
The terrazzo floors, installed on approximately 5,000 square feet of the floor surface in the office, are composed of 100% post-consumer crushed glass that includes mixed-bottle glass, mirror glass, and window plate glass. They were formulated at about 75 percent glass and 25 percent VOC-free epoxy resin binder by volume, and are non-hazardous, non-carcinogenic, non-flammable, and odor-free. These properties were important because the floor was manufactured on site and poured in place.
Special efforts were made to reduce the monthly utility consumption and improve the working environment in ways that are controllable in a commercial finish-out project, including:
- Selecting high-efficiency lighting fixtures - T-5 with electronic ballasts, controlled centrally with occupancy sensors - to achieve adequate illumination levels with a 0.99 watts per square foot lighting power density.
- Installing plumbing fixtures and lighting controls that are high-efficiency to reduce our water and energy consumption.
- Installing ENERGY STAR equipment as part of the finish-out construction.
Additionally, monitoring ongoing energy use was a part of the Huitt-Zollars strategy. The monitoring and verification strategy included three components: tenant space electricity sub-metering, HVAC monitoring, and lighting control. Tenant space electricity is sub-metered directly with Huitt-Zollars' own monitoring equipment, E-Mon D-Mon energy monitors. These log and trend electricity use to a Web-Mon system that is accessible to Huitt-Zollars staff. The base building's building management system monitors HVAC units, trending the occupancy status of each HVAC unit, as well as zone temperatures. Through combining the energy monitoring system and HVAC occupancy trending, a correlation can show Huitt Zollar's HVAC energy use. Finally, lighting is controlled by the base building's lighting control system and electrical lighting use is recorded by the energy monitoring system.
E-Mon D-Mon energy monitors, which log and trend electricity use to a Web-Mon system, are accessible to Huitt-Zollars through its LAN network. The energy use data is reported to the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager on a monthly basis. Photo courtesy of Huitt-Zollars.
How was the integrative process applied and what was the greatest benefit gained?
Due to the short timeline for this project (25 weeks from inception to move-in), the project had to apply an integrated design approach. The design itself was still changing throughout the construction period. The design team, construction team, and owner representatives collaborated throughout by necessity.
Integrative design was invaluable to keep the team on track enabling parts of the project to move forward ensuring that information was effectively and efficiently distributed to team members. An example of this was with the light fixtures that were on backorder and would not be received in time so the team had to sit down and make a quick decision on choosing another light that was available essentially the same day that would meet the design intent and energy requirements.
The integrated design approach did not affect this project's ROI and due to the short timeline this was the most efficient way for the design and construction teams to effectively achieve the projects deadline.
Aside from LEED certification, what do you consider key project successes?
A few of the key successes aside from LEED certification worth noting include the design of the office space and the impacts on operations. We were able to create the office environment we set out to create: An office that encourages the collaborative and creative teamwork that is essential in the architecture and engineering industry. Workspaces are functional without barriers between team members. There are multiple conference and training rooms with presentation technology, white boards, tack boards, and adequate lighting to hold meetings, training sessions, and educational luncheons right here on-site. We have created an office that reflects our commitment to sustainability and supports our corporate ideology to constantly improve the quality of life in our world.
Refurbished cubicles from the old office were cut down to a 44-inch height to encourage a collaborative work environment. Photo courtesy of Huitt-Zollars.
What were the most important long- and short-term value-add strategies and what returns on investment (ROI) have been experienced or anticipated?
We used energy meters for the space, which allow us to track and trend log our energy usage. But savings go to the base building, so we do not see financial returns. We invested in these strategies because we want to be sustainable.
What project challenges became important lessons learned?
The trash sorting and recycling was probably one of the biggest challenges on this project because it was in a high-rise building with very little loading dock space. The trash and recyclables had to be sorted, maintained, policed, and removed once enough was accumulated that it made sense to remove it. Recycling and trash were handled multiple times throughout the project. The lay-down area we had was minimal, limiting our ability to relocate the trash and recyclables from where it originated to another floor and stockpile it until ready to be relocated down to the dumpster for recycling.
All construction waste was separated and recycled. Wood was just one of the many materials recycled. Photo courtesy of Huitt-Zollars.
The fire marshal would not allow us to stockpile combustible materials, such as cardboard and styrofoam, on the floor. This added to the challenge of getting that material downstairs so we did not have to stop work every time we needed to relocate materials. We had to add more labor on the job site to constantly take down trash. Because we had just one elevator to use, this was challenging. Adding to this was cross-contamination from other contractors and the fact that we were located right next to a residential tower, so our dumpsters (just one trash and one recycling) were a target for them to use. In the end, this added a substantial increase in cost to the project that was not initially anticipated.
On the next project I do, I will investigate using several small, lockable dumpsters instead of one large container, which would help with cross contamination and sorting efforts.
To hear Eric discuss why lockable dumpsters could be more effective, listen here .
To get the space flushed out was another big challenge on the construction end because we did not have any time to let the space rest. We developed an indoor air quality (IAQ) testing strategy from the start to ensure that we would get the tenants into the space exactly on the day needed to avoid penalties for remaining in their previous leased space. IAQ testing was done on the Saturday prior to the Monday move-in; given this timing, we were unable to earn LEED credit for a pre-occupancy construction IAQ management plan.
I took several takeaways from the fast-track nature of this project. The project was completed during the economic downturn, which made material acquisition difficult. After challenges in securing our planned materials, on future fast-track projects, I will specify and install commonly available materials. I also learned how important it is, when on a tight project timeline, to find team members that can get the job done correctly the first time.
The project goal was LEED Gold but when we realized we were so close to achieving Platinum we decided to go for it. However, had the team known the base buildings equipment was to be included in the calculations and that it was not going to meet the base efficiency requirements the team would not have spent the time or money on pursing EAc1.3 especially due to the inconsistent responses and information received by the GBCI. Our project initially pursued this credit under Option 2. Due to some issues with the modeling software, we were not able to address all of the issues brought up in the review. We then switched to Option 1, Equipment Efficiency, and were under the impression that this would only apply to the equipment that was installed under the tenant fit out project as this was the approach all of the other credits had. When the project was reviewed for the second time, the comments stated that the building equipment that served the space was required to be included. We were actually able to discuss the issue of whether or not to include the base buildings systems with representatives from the GBCI as one of our team had seen a similar project with identical equipment be able to exclude the base building equipment. The credit was ultimately denied due to the inability of the base building system to meet the efficiency requirements. The base building equipment was new, never used and met the requirements of the LEED Core and Shell certification the building achieved at the same time our CI space received certification. Unfortunately, it was not feasible for our project to change the new equipment, so we did not pursue it at that point. This left us just 3 points shy of gaining Platinum.
What was a pivotal moment that impacted the project's direction?
The short timeframe in which we had to do the project and the fact that the economy has caused businesses to carry no inventory made material procurement difficult at every step. Securing the acoustical ceiling, light fixtures, carpet, wall covering, and more all caused challenges.
We had to make design changes in the lobby because we could not get the prescribed light fixtures in time. There was a decrease in cost with the substitutions because we needed suitable alternatives that were readily available. In the end, the standard available fixtures were less expensive than custom-made fixtures and the quality was not compromised.
The main lobby displays many awards the firm has won over the years, including the most recent of LEED Gold. Daylighting provides the lobby’s main source of light and is enhanced by highly-reflective, low-emitting, and low-VOC paint on the walls and ceiling. The terrazzo floor, made of 100% post-consumer crushed glass and VOC-free epoxy resin binder, was manufactured and poured on site. Photo courtesy of Huitt-Zollars.
So, what do you think? Help us improve our new LEED project library by completing this short survey.