LEED ID+C: Commercial Interiors v3 - LEED 2009
Distrito Federal, 01210
LEED Silver 2013
The below stakeholder perspectives address the following LEED credits:
EAc1.1, EAc1.4, EQp2, EQc4.1, EQc4.2, EQc4.3, EQc8.2
Goals and motivations
What were the top overarching goals and objectives?
This project aimed to establish a benchmark of environmental performance for the offices in the Santa Fe area. The project wanted to prove that a modern and clean design is not opposed to environmental sustainability, creating environmental awareness through its design. Reducing water use was also a key point for this project, since water savings are a daily goal in Mexico City due to its high demand.
- Benchmark environmental performance
- Reduce water use
- Create awareness through the project's design
What were the most notable strategies used to earn LEED credits?
Mexico City relies mostly on groundwater for its supply of potable water. With the over use of groundwater resources and the increasing water demand, water use reduction is a regional priority for Mexico City. Therefore, the project team set the reduction of water consumption as one of its main goals. We installed water saving fixtures in the entire project, achieving a 41.47% reduction compared to the baseline case. To achieve this, several strategies were addressed, such as: installation of hidden faucet aerators, waterless urinals and dual flush toilets.
There were some issues regarding the sourcing of the aerators for the water faucets. The availability of faucet aerators is limited in Mexico; therefore we had to buy them in the US and then had them installed by the commissioning agent.
Photo by Paul Czitrom
Optimize Energy Performance
It was very important for the owner to enhance the energy performance and savings in this project, for which the following strategies were implemented.
Of the total installed lighting load in the project, 92.38% is controlled with occupancy sensors to avoid the waste of electric energy. The selection of electrical equipment was restricted to those appliances that were ENERGY STAR rated, achieving that 90.48% of the rating power. Additionally, we created a purchase policy in which it is established that all future purchased computer equipment must have an Energy Star certificate.
The building already had a variable volume air handling unit. To take the existing installation into advantage, we decided to install high efficiency VAVs.
Views for Seated Spaces
We considered it very important to offer comfort for the office occupants, therefore, the architect located the open office areas near the windows and the meeting rooms at the center. To provide the meeting rooms with access to views, glass walls were installed. The project achieved 99.85% of the regularly occupied spaces with access to exterior views.
Aside from LEED certification, what do you consider key project successes?
The achievement of LEED certification within a building of other non-certified offices demonstrated that good design can be sustainable even if located within the urban core. This is a key success because it creates environmental awareness in the other tenants in the building and encourages them to pursue sustainability on their own projects.
In order to accomplish credits IEQc4.1, IEQc4.2 and IEQc4.3, there was a meeting with the contractors during the design phase. In that meeting the contractors were informed about the characteristics that adhesives, sealants, paints, coatings and flooring systems should have. Also, a plan was created in which it was stated that contractors should contact the Environmental Advisers in case of doubt whether the product to be purchased fulfilled the requisites.
To further support them a dynamic table was created and given to the contractors. In the table, contractors could select the product they needed from a list (adhesives, sealants, paints, coatings or flooring systems), and when selected a column would show the allowed VOCs content for it.
With these strategies, the purchase of products that couldn't be used was avoided. By providing the dynamic table to the contractors, a lot of time was saved, since they didn't have to contact the Environmental Advisers for every product purchase. From now on the contractors can implement products with low VOC content, since they kept the chart to consult.
Photo by Paul Czitrom
The most challenging aspect of the LEED process was to convince the building's owner to place non-smoking signs in the entry ways and terraces of the base building in which VENSI is located. Since the occupants of the building were used to smoking downstairs, really close the entry ways, it was tough to implement this measure.
The cause of this issue stems from the difference between the code established in the US and the one in Mexico City regarding designated smoking areas. In Mexico City, even though it is forbidden to smoke in enclosed spaces, the regulation does not address the minimum distance from entryways and air intakes to designated exterior smoking areas.
Informing the people of the importance of not smoking near the entry ways and talking them into not doing it was very time consuming and difficult to accomplish.
In order to overcome this issue, a meeting with the building's owner was scheduled to explain the requirement of the LEED prerequisite and the importance to occupant health. This meeting resulted in the involvement of the building's owner with the LEED certification process and a further understanding of the importance of designating adequate exterior smoking areas. The owner agreed to implement the required signage to enforce the no smoking policy for occupants to read. To solve the problem of people smoking near the entry ways, the ashtrays were relocated within the designated smoking areas, at least 25 feet from the entryways and air intakes.
For commercial interior projects, we recommend engaging the building's owner since the beginning with the LEED certification process, explaining the intent of the credits in which their cooperation is crucial. As well, informing the building users of the smoking policy implemented and the reasons behind it is important to assure that they respect the designated smoking areas.
What was the value of applying LEED to this project?
With the application of LEED to the project, there was value added not only to the project itself, but to many of the engineers, architects, designers and contractors involved in making the certification possible. Revising information to meet the compliance of the pursued credits led into updating knowledge and learning new technologies; for instance, HVAC Engineers had to check again the ASHRAE standard, adding knowledge to their company.
Furthermore, the construction company had to implement new practices in order to meet the LEED requirements for the Indoor Air Quality Management Plan during the construction of VENSI. Some of these practices included quality control inspections to assure that moisture wasn't being accumulated in stockpiled materials, the protection of ducts of the new HVAC equipment from dust and odors, and the use of only low emitting products (carpets, adhesives, paints, caulks, etc) among others.
These new learned practices add value to their company because now they know and are familiar with sustainable and healthy practices that can be implemented in future projects, whether they are pursuing the LEED certification or not.
The LEED certification will help increase the level of awareness of environmental resource consumption among the employees and visitors. This is due largely in part to the showroom for clients to see the medical equipment they sell as well as recycling practices. Although recycling is a common practice in other countries, it's just taking off in Mexico. By implementing such practices in work environments, people are becoming more conscientious about their disposal and recycling habits.
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