LEED ID+C: Commercial Interiors v3 - LEED 2009
UMUC Student Faculty Services Center
LEED Gold 2013
Goals and motivations
What were the top overarching goals and objectives?
The goals and objectives of this project were to redesign and renovate the interior of the Administration Building in order to create a more collaborative and open atmosphere for the employees. In that regard, there were significant changes made in the layout of the office spaces such that the building is more office friendly for the employees that work here.
For instance, individual departments no longer have their own conference rooms. Instead, there are four conference rooms of varying sizes scattered at each floor. Furthermore, there are various seating areas located on each floor, where the University encourages its employees to meet and collaborate. This allows much better utilization of the available space and to make an open collaborative environment where employees do not feel isolated in their offices and are productive.
The main goal of the project was to create a new collaborative work environment with flexibility for the university's 11 administrative departments. Overall project goals and sustainability goals were discussed and balanced throughout the design process. For example, the project team was evaluating possibility of achieving daylight and view credits with UMUC and realized it was impossible to achieve the credits due to the number of required closed offices. However, the project team took advantage of tall windows and introduced transom windows along with the closed office. Although it was not enough to achieve the credit points, we were still able to bring natural light deep into the space.
What were the most notable strategies used to earn LEED credits?
The design of the renovation pursued a variety of strategies. For water conservation, all of the irrigation surrounding the building's exterior was removed which lead to approximately 40% of water use reduction. In addition, all restrooms in the building implemented a waterless urinal system and sensor controlled faucets which further reduces water usage.
Furthermore, the University implemented alternative public transportation options for the employees with buses. In addition, there were numerous bike racks around the building to support alternate modes of transportation. Moreover, indoor air quality was improved by using environmentally friendly materials to fill out the spaces of the building. During the construction phase, there was a focus on waste management - the reduction of waste material and the utilization of reusable materials.
Due to the limited project scope that did not include exterior renovation, the project team's main strategy to obtain certification/earn credits was to "go back to the basics." Our project team took full advantage of the location of the building and achieved 100% (21/21) site credits. The entire project team understood the project goal of achieving LEED certification from the very beginning, which helped the project to achieve a higher rating (Gold) than the original goal of Silver.
One of the unusual choices UMUC made was to implement waterless urinals for the restrooms. Based on their successful previous experience, UMUC was confident they could provide proper maintenance and cleaning of the facility. Because of this bold move, the project achieved 43% water use reduction, and achieved 100 % Water Efficiency credits as well as regional priority.
What was the value of applying LEED to this project?
The value of applying for LEED certification is generally the energy conservation side of sustainability. There was a significant amount of energy savings by designing and renovating the building in this manner. In this regards, the current lighting controls that are installed are mostly sensor controlled which means that they activate depending on the detection of motion. Furthermore, there was an upgrade in lighting fixtures in which all florescent fixtures were changed to T5 which reduces energy consumption.
By modifying the interior layout, the building was able to get much more exposure to daylight. Before the renovation, most of the offices had windows and lined the outside walls of the building. However, as one went towards the core of the building, one could not look outside anymore. As part of the renovation, everything was moved toward the core, leaving the windows open for every other common space. The result is a much more open environment.
Regardless of pursuing LEED, Design Collective is committed to deliver a project that meets the client's program requirements, while providing environmentally responsible solutions via design process, material choices, and assistance to create policies. UMUC is also committed to achieve LEED Silver certification for all of its projects.
By applying LEED certification, the project team can verify strategies that materialized in the form of credit scores. It is always great to have a tool to evaluate and quantify your sustainable strategies, and applying LEED did exactly what was needed to check and balance our approaches to sustainable design process.
Aside from LEED certification, what do you consider key project successes?
The Administration Building is a beautiful structure after the completion of the renovations. If one compares the pre renovated and post renovated conditions, they would be surprised. Prior to the renovations, there existed a second story bridge that connected the Administration Building to the adjacent car parking garage. At that time, students and faculty would never really know where the main entrance was. As part of the renovations, the bridge was completely removed. Now, when one looks at the whole structure, there is a clear, beautiful, and completely renovated entrance into the building.
Because the LEED process was implemented at the very beginning of the project, we were able to evaluate lots of different strategies along the way. And even though we had to go through some value engineering exercises, we still over achieved our LEED goals.
What returns on investment (ROI) have been experienced or anticipated?
It will be a long time before a return on investment occurs because the University does not rent out the spaces in this building. It is the Administration building, University employees use it. It is not like a classroom space where the University can charge a fee for the use of it. Ultimately, the operation was a renovation of a building.
It is a fact that there will be some returns through the energy conservation measures that were implemented, but that will take a long time. Sometimes one may not expect to recoup the money, but sustainability is pursued anyway because it is good for the environment. When the University renovates the Inn and Conference Center located near this building, the University can expect a faster return because it is a space that people use for meetings and conferences and are charged for its use.
The most important lesson learned is to be involved with every step of the project - inspecting it, observing its progress, and meeting with the contractors constantly to make sure the project stays on target. The unfortunate truth out there is that people may often try to take shortcuts and the project manager just has to make sure no corners are cut. This is why commissioning is so important and useful. For LEED, it will double check the systems to make sure it is installed and operating as designed.
How do you inform or educate people in being sustainable?
The building has a signage at the main entrance that it's LEED Gold and this information is located on the University's website. When an individual is hired, he/she is presented with all their transportation options. The University tries to be energy conscious in everything it does. For example, the University is in the process of updating the lighting of the nearby parking garage.
In the parking garage, all the existing halogen light fixtures are being changed to LEDs, which conserves energy and is generally good for the environment. In addition, many of the fixtures will have motion sensors. At night, when the parking lot is empty, they will dim to 50%, but when there is a presence of a vehicle or a person, the lights will turn on.
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