LEED ID+C: Commercial Interiors v2009
Lohre and Associates offices
LEED Platinum 2011
The below stakeholder perspectives address the following LEED credits:
SSc1, MRc2, MRc3, WEc1, EAc1, IEQc3.1
* 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 overarching goals of this project were to talk the talk and walk the walk of Lohre & Associates' efforts to educate students and create marketing communications about sustainable design. Green economy knowledge will give us an advantage in new business proposals. LEED Platinum says it all.
We initially learned about LEED from a client project, the LEED Platinum Fernald Preserve Visitors Centerand our experience teaching classes there. As our classes evolved, we learned not from books, but from actual LEED projects. By having such a diversity of examples, we were able to incorporate such varied features as 50% open area pavers and a renewable energy pellet stove; and learned how to install occupancy sensors that work with a 1.5-watt LED and an integrated hand washing station over the water closet.
In the end, our office needed to demonstrate all of the LEED objectives. Lohre and Associates Offices is the first LEED CI-2009 Platinum space in the state of Ohio. The result of reaching our goal and objectives was just the beginning of a lifelong journey of learning and teaching by example. We enjoy reducing our carbon footprint and finding new ways to recycle products.
What were the motivations to pursue LEED certification and how did they influence the project?
- Cost/Utility Savings
- Design Innovation
- Integrated Design Process
- Market Competitiveness
- Waste Reduction/Avoidance
The motivation to achieve such a high level of LEED certification came from preparing dozens of students to pass the LEED AP exam. Teaching the credits over and over slowly brought the subject to life, making it seem directly attainable to our staff. We were inspired by the clarity and measurable environmental benefit goals of LEED. One didn't have to be an architect or engineer to learn it; one just needed a sincere interest in the subject and dedication to study until mastering the credit.
What were the most notable strategies used to earn LEED credits?
I am particularly proud of our zero construction waste. We shipped our carpet scraps across the country to recycle. This was only an 800-square-foot project and we only had 11 pounds of carpet scraps. After fretting about it and asking carpet manufacturers, we finally found Resource 1 in Seattle through a Google search, which enabled us to achieve zero construction waste. We also recycled one pound of aluminum mini-blind scrap resulting from reusing old aluminum blinds by cutting one inch off of the length, and scrap wood was composted.
During the LEED process, we moved from one office to another, downsizing from 1,400 square feet to 800 square feet and using FreeCycle (an online network that promotes waste reduction) for all unused furniture. We kept all of our vintage Globe Wernicke office furniture and donated the rest. Because of the move, we didn't have the challenge of replacing lamps and ballasts or removing old carpet, which was going to be replaced if we had stayed.
We also installed a Sink Perfect adapter, which provides a hand washing station atop the toilet. By averting some of the water that would otherwise fill the toilet basin, the station is supplied with clean water when the toilet is flushed.
The Sink Perfect adapter averts water from filling the toilet basin to supply a hand washing station with clean water when the toilet is flushed.
Aside from LEED certification, what do you consider key project successes?
The key success of this project was creating a community in Cincinnati to support the City in its sustainability efforts to encourage LEED development. City leaders, educators, businesses, students, and citizens can call Lohre & Associates to get information about LEED and where to learn more - and can even visit our office to experience LEED first-hand
What were the most important long- and short-term value-add strategies and what returns on investment (ROI) have been experienced or anticipated?
The greatest value-add strategy on this project was engaging students through our education classes in supporting the LEED documentation of this project. We would have never accomplished such a high level of LEED certification without these classes, which provided individuals with project experience required to sit for the LEED AP exam while also preparing this project's LEED documentation. Over three years, each class more closely defined the credit requirements and uncovered the steps we needed to take. Each class member contributed to the continual study and refinement of our LEED documentation and because it was such a thorough process, very few mis-steps were made. At the same time, this strategy gave back to the community by providing students LEED project experience. In the end, achieving LEED Platinum was only the beginning of an education that has improved our effectiveness in market our clients' products and services to the sustainable economy.
Additionally, the energy strategies offered short-term savings, while the indoor air quality strategies will be a long-term benefit. In regards to the latter, a public-facing outcome is that a local green school non-profit now holds all of its board meetings at our office because its director, who is very allergic to many indoor spaces, has no problem at our office. Another long-term outcome is that our company's green building marketing communications and LEED education services have continued to grow, now representing 30% of our business.
There were many days when challenges seemed insurmountable, but one after one, we found solutions and met LEED requirements without spending much capital. We estimate energy savings of $50 per month, which would basically pay off our investment in four years. We also signed a 10-year lease. Separating LEED fees and unnecessary expenses, we achieved LEED Platinum for about $4 per square foot. Our total expense was $9,549; $3,500 of this was for an EPA-certified sawdust pellet stove. We intended the pellet stove more as a conversation piece regarding renewable energy than a means of obtaining a LEED point.
The Lohre & Associates Headquarters entrance hosts a sawdust pellet stove, which demonstrates renewable energy.
LEED fees were about $2,500, leaving a core expense of $4.40 per square foot.
A breakdown of our project costs included:
- Salvaged materials (carpet and glass display cases): $768
- Surplus ENERGY STAR flat-screen computer monitors and TV/DVD from University of Cincinnati surplus sale: $225
- Dual-flush adapter and integral hand washing station for toilet: $220
- Occupancy switches and LED/CFL lighting: $800
- Rain barrel: $100
- Roof sedums, tree, and adaptive and native plants: $200
- Early Canon ENERGY STAR copier: $500
- New mini-refrigerator: $175
What project challenges became important lessons learned?
Our biggest lesson learned was to not guess about whether products meet LEED requirements, but instead, to get the documentation. Trying to find occupancy and daylight sensors that work on 1.5-watt LED bulbs took some time and trial. I initially purchased a sensor that I thought would work because the label did not mention that it needed at least a 60-watt load. Finding and documenting ENERGY STAR appliances for 91% plug loads took many months and involved a big error purchasing an electronic refrigerator thought to be ENERGY STAR that had to be returned.
We did not achieve IEQ c3.1, Construction Indoor Air Quality Management Plan - During Construction. In hindsight, I would have flushed out the office after laying the carpet and prior to move-in. The problem with this credit was that I didn't know of a combination fan and heater to keep the flush-out air at 60 degrees. In hindsight, I think I could have solved that problem if I had given it some more thought and possibly monitored online LEED forums to see if others were asking that same question.
What was a pivotal moment that impacted the project's direction?
Halfway through the planning process, we got hired by an architecture firm to do marketing in exchange for part of a lease in the building it owned. This relocation from an office tower to a rowhouse in the inner city occurred before we had any project expenses. Given the new building's location and strategies that were already in place, we were closer to a number of LEED requirements, which offered cost savings.
In our old building, we would have had to replace the ballasts and fluorescent bulbs in 30 fixtures, and also probably would have had to replace the toilet in the common bathroom with a low-flow toilet and waterless urinal. In the new building, these LEED-applicable strategies, as well as a bicycle shower, were already in place. Additionally, the new space had a concrete parking lot which, unlike the old space, met LEED's heat island reduction specifications. And, the new office came with a 30-square-foot outdoor space in which we could install open area pavers and a very small garden planted with native and adaptive plants.
LEED strategies used in the parking area include 50% open area pavers, an adaptive and native garden, and a rain barrel.
So, what do you think? Help us improve our new LEED project library by completing this short survey.