How Does a Building Turn Gold? Let's Count the LEED Credits

June 30, 2008
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Here is a screen shot of Bick Group’s facility management system. It provides information and monitoring on everything from outside weather conditions to indoor air quality.

ST. LOUIS - While the Bick Group is proud of having invested time and money into its underfloor air distribution (UAD) system, its headquarters has a lot of other top-notch, thinking-outside-the-box features going for it.

After all, it did not get its LEED Gold certification by sticking to traditional ways.

“Because the existing building was in a desirable location, was an appropriate size for the company’s operation, had adequate parking, and was well-situated on the property, Bick Group thought the former building was the ideal candidate for a renovation where a majority of the building could be reused and site work would be minimal,” said Rick Tinucci, senior vice president.

As Tinucci noted, the large building had great potential for achieving all three of the company’s main goals:

1. Supply better environment for employees. (In other words, a space that offered plenty of daylight, views to the outside, and functional, flexible features that would enhance work.)

2. Energy savings and life-cycle cost savings.

3. USGBC LEED Gold certification.



“Because we believe that one of the key benefits of an intelligent building, by virtue of its energy-efficient, flexible design, is that it is better for the environment, we see achieving LEED certification as affirmation that our building is indeed green,” said Tinucci.

Even though Bick Group targeted to gain gold level certification, Tinucci said the company took a very pragmatic approach to the design and construction of the building.

“In order to be accepted in the marketplace, we realize that building green has to make good economic and business sense,” he said.

“So while there are many green features incorporated into the construction of this building, we intentionally focused on areas that most businesses would realistically consider from construction and operational cost perspectives, particularly for a building of this size and use.”

Here is a log of lighting used over a period of time at Bick Group. The company can show actual energy savings data associated with various energy-saving elements of its building’s design.

BREAKING DOWN CREDITS

Here are the highlights:

• In regard to the actual building, originally constructed in 1967, Bick Group earned two LEED credits for site selection (Sustainable Sites Credit 1), as well as for reusing 75 percent of the original shell structure (Material and Resources Credit 1.1).

• Its underfloor power distribution also earned two LEED credits, one for optimized energy performance (Energy and Atmosphere Credit 1) and another for green power (Energy and Atmos- phere Credit 6). The power system is plug-and-play, with reusable cable. As with UAD, the cabling under the floor reduces waste, reconfiguration time, and costs associated with churn.

“As part of Bick Group’s commitment to green power, we have purchased 214,000 kWh worth of Biogas Green-e-certified Renewable Energy certificates,” said Tinucci.

Under the clear panel is an active HP Procurve data switch. Instead of bundles of copper from a data center, server room, or closet to a distribution point, Bick Group is running fiber to switch underfloor. Senior vice president Rick Tinucci said this saves on copper and frees up rack and/or closet real estate, yet still makes the switch readily accessible.

• The UAD system actually earned five LEED credits. It earned a point for optimized energy performance (Energy and Atmosphere Credit 1), reducing ozone depletion (Energy and Atmosphere Credit 4), increasing ventilation effectiveness (Indoor Environment Quality Credit 2), controllability of systems (Indoor Environment Quality Credit 6.2), and for thermal comfort (Indoor Environmental Quality Credit 7.1).

• It earned four points for its perimeter heating and cooling setup. Linear diffusers are along the perimeter of the building, providing added heating and cooling for skin losses during cold winter and hot summer periods. At the same time, a hot-water loop, supplied by a high-efficiency, gas-fired, full-modulating boiler provides additional heat along the perimeter during the winter months. Plus, when in heating mode, the fan is energized first to recirculate room air to the perimeter, then the heating coil is opened to provide supplemental heating, meeting ASHRAE 90.1 guidelines.

LEED credits for these include optimized energy performance (Energy and Atmosphere Credit 1), increased ventilation effectiveness (Indoor Environmental Quality Credit 2), controllability of systems (Indoor Environmental Quality Credit 6.2), and thermal comfort (Indoor Environment Quality Credit 7.1).

Shown through a clear panel in the raised floor is the power supply, distributed through underfloor-using modular, plug-and-play wiring components. Inputs, coming from electric room, include black for house power (unprotected), yellow for switched power (to automatically turn off task lighting), and orange for UPS power. Outputs carry all three of these circuits to PVDs, which are then daisy-chained in groups.

BRING IN THE LIGHT

• Daylighting is where Bick Groups stepped to the forefront – and made its office employees happy. For instance, the windowless south wall was replaced with a curtain wall featuring highly insulating glass with selective coatings that allow a high percentage of visible light while reducing solar heat gain. Meanwhile, the exterior horizontal sunshades and vertical metal fins shade the inside from direct sunbeam penetration, designed to help reduce glare. At the same time, interior light shelves shade the interior from direct sunlight and their top surfaces bounce daylight to the white, reflective ceiling, helping to project natural light further into the occupied space. In regard to the actual electrical lighting, 0-10-V dimmable fluorescent ballasts combined with photo sensors and a lighting control system automatically adjust interior light fixtures to maintain 35 foot-candles of light at the workspace.

Breaking down those LEED points, it earned one for optimized energy performance (Energy and Atmosphere Credit 1) plus two in regard to daylight and views (Indoor Environmental Quality Credit 8.1 and 8.2).

• In regard to windows, every other bank of lower windows open - unheard of in today’s office setting. Based on outside weather conditions and outside air quality, the facility management system (FMS) will generate an e-mail to employees along the perimeter of the building, telling them they can open their windows, if they so desire. If the weather conditions change, or it is toward the end of the work day, the FMS will generate another e-mail to employees, reminding them to close the windows in their areas.

Breaking down those LEED points: one for increase in ventilation effectiveness (Indoor Environmental Quality Credit 2), and one each for daylight and views (Indoor Environmental Quality Credit 8.1 and 8.2).

• Bick Group even has automatic shades, which earned them kudos from LEED. All east and west windows have shades that raise and lower automatically depending on the angle of the sun as determined by the time of the year, time of day, and amount of outside light intensity as determined by photo sensors located on the exterior east and west walls. Occupants have the ability to override the automatic settings through a user-friendly Website interface.

Although the shades eliminate glare from direct sunlight, 5 percent of the shade fabric is comprised of tiny holes that allow some beneficial daylight into the space. Also, sides facing out have a silver reflective coating to help reduce solar gain. Meanwhile, sides facing inward are black, which makes the 5 percent open weave easier to see through. PVC-free GreenScreen® shade fabric contains no volatile organic compounds, which means no off-gassing.

LEED-wise, that’s one for optimize energy performance (Energy & Atmosphere Credit 1), one for low-emitting materials (Indoor Environmental Quality Credit 4.1), one controllability of systems (Indoor Environmental Quality Credit 6.1), and one for daylight and views (Indoor Environmental Quality Credit 8).

MONITORING IAQ

• Bick Group created its own air quality monitoring system. Two “nose” devices - one on the West side and one on the East side of the office - use aspirators to continually draw in air and analyze its quality. These “noses” detect concentration levels of CO2 and some 30 VOCs, which includes formaldehyde, ammonia, chlorides, and benzene. Based on the levels of concentration of these compounds (ppm for CO2, an aggregate percentage for the 30 VOCs), Bick’s HVAC system automatically regulates the amount of fresh air introduced into the building.

LEED credits supported are for carbon monoxide monitoring (Indoor Environmental Quality Credit 1) and measurement and verification (Energy and Atmosphere Credit 5).

• The company uses rooftop monitors, which earned Bick some LEED points. Three rooftop monitors were added to the building to let daylight further back into the space - one each in the West, East, and center lobby entrance. By essentially adding windows into the interior of the office, rooftop monitors allow for more effective daylighting by bringing daylight further into the space. The white, high-albedo roof reflects light into the windows and off of the reflective ceiling, further increasing the effective daylighting from these monitors. Most of the time, the indirect and pendant lighting used in these spaces is off due to the amount of daylight coming in from these elevated clearstory features.

LEED translation: two each for daylight and views (Indoor Environmental Quality Credit 8.1 and 8.2).

• Did you know you can earn LEED points for alternative transportation? Yes, you can.

Bick Group earned points for alternative transportation - public, bicycles, alternative fuel refueling stations, and parking capacity. Breaking that down, that’s Sustainable Sites Credit 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, and 4.4.

In Bick’s case public transportation is readily available since Manchester Road in St. Louis is on the Metro bus service route. Bicycle rack and shower facilities are available for employees who ride their bikes into work. There are dedicated parking spaces reserved for carpooling. There are also dedicated parking spaces reserved for alternative fuel vehicles, and these spaces feature recharging stations for electric vehicles. Since parking requirements were lower than that required by the local zoning ordinance, Bick Group obtained a variance from the city to allow for fewer parking spaces, thereby minimizing impervious surface areas and heat islands.

• The warehouse and parking lot have LEED-approved features, too. Cold weather heating is the only conditioning in the warehouse, and that is provided using high-efficiency, gas-fired infrared heaters. As a result of these heaters, the cool 55°-65° warehouse winter setpoint, and the five inches of polyisocyanurate roof insulation, uses very little energy to heat the warehouse. And, all warehouse light fixtures feature single T5 lamps with specular reflectors and are controlled by motion-sensors so that they come on only when needed.

A crash rail in the warehouse was made from excess corrugated roof deck steel left over from the new roof installation. And, to help reduce water runoff, Bick Group added decorative rock islands with dry wells in the back parking lot. These wells help slow rainwater sheet flow across the parking lot and also serve or provide water for the trees in these islands.

LEED points: one for optimized energy performance (Energy and Atmosphere Credit 1), resource reuse (Materials & Resources Credit 3), and stormwater management (Sustainable Sites Credit 6.1).

SAVING WATER, RECYCLING

• Save water and you’ll get LEED credits. Waterless urinals are in place at Bick Group, saving an average of 40,000 gallons of potable water per year. The toilets feature dual flush valves to help conserve water. All bathrooms feature low-flow motion sensor faucets. And, the shower and all kitchen sinks are equipped with low flow heads to reduce water usage. Finally, restroom hot water is provided by local, on-demand (tankless) high-efficiency water heaters, which reduces the amount of energy traditional tank-type water heaters use to heat and store water.

Looking at the LEED credits supported, they are for water use reduction 20 percent and for 30 percent (Water Efficiency Credit 3.1 and 3.2), plus one for exemplary performance in water use reduction (41 percent) (Innovation & Design Process Credit 1).

• Recycling is stressed at Bick Group - and, it earned it a LEED point for storage and collection of recyclables (Material and Resources Prerequisite 1). There are two office recycling centers that accept cans, plastic, and paper products. The company’s copy/print centers feature paper recycling bins for both non-sensitive documents and confidential documents that require shredding. Every workstation has separate containers for recyclable vs. non-recyclable waste. And, there are separate dumpsters for recyclables in the company’s dumpster enclosure.

• Bick Group’s unique, modern café earned LEED points in five different areas. The access floor covering in the café is a factory-applied Marmoleum made from rapidly renewable, natural ingredients such as linseed oil, rosin, wood flour, cork flour, limestone, and jute. All lighting in the café uses low-wattage florescent bulbs and is activated by motion sensors. A water filtration system filters water for designated faucets, as well as ice and coffee makers. (“Our hope is that employees and guests might opt for the filtered water over bottled water, thereby reducing the demand for energy and materials associated with bottle water production,” said Rick Tinucci, senior vice president of Bick Group.) Meanwhile, kitchen hot water is provided by a local, on-demand (tankless) high-efficiency water heater, which reduces the amount of energy traditional tank-type water heaters use to heat and store water.

LEED credits are for water use reduction (Water Efficiency Credit 3.1 and 3.2), optimize energy performance (Energy & Atmosphere Credit 1), recycled content (25 percent and 50 percent) (Materials & Resources Credit 4.1 and 4.2), and for rapidly renewable materials (Materials and Resources Credit 6).

• Because Bick Group has an open office space, it is using an underfloor sound masking system to reduce distractions from nearby conversations and other noises. This system uses 86 sound masking speakers distributed evenly under the floor and offers the following advantages:

- Less materials and lower cost: Because locating sound masking speakers under the floor eliminates typical overhead system installation components, such as shoots, pins, hanger assemblies, and wire drops, underfloor sound masking systems typically cost 10 to 15 percent less than a ceiling plenum system.

- Better sound uniformity. Access floor cavities have a direct and highly reverberant acoustical field (steel and concrete) compared to ceiling plenums (steel deck and acoustical ceiling panels), which have a direct and semi-reverberant field. Underfloor sound masking systems eliminate all “phasing” concerns and exceed ASTM standards for spatial uniformity.

Bottom line: a LEED point for recycled content (25 percent) (Materials & Resources Credit 4.1).

COPY CENTER, CAFÃä

• Throughout the office, the building has structural columns that have holes in them. This is not the result of sloppy steel fabrication; rather, the holes are telltale signs that this was an existing building. Most of the steel in the building was reused. The previous owner had power distribution panels and other devices attached to these columns. Besides opening up lots of opportunities for site locations in the St. Louis market place, the decision to reuse an existing building prevented habitat encroachment and reduced the amount of new materials needed for this major renovation.

As a result, LEED granted points for site selection (Sustainable Site Credit 1) and building reuse (75 percent of shell) (Materials and Resource Credit 1.1).

• Looking at the roof and wall insulation, in order to reduce heat loss/gain through the skin of the building, Bick Group furred out the inside of the exterior walls and used a spray-on, soy-based insulation rather than standard fiberglass batting. According to Bick Group, the advantages of using this type of insulation are:

1. It provides for a more complete coverage and seeps into all the nooks and crannies, thereby also serving as a vapor barrier.

2. It provides an R value of 3.83 per inch, giving the company a total wall system R value of R22.

3. Since it is soy-based, it is made from rapidly renewable materials that contain no VOCs.

The roof, on the other hand, features a high albedo (white) TPO membrane over 5 inches of closed cell (polyisocyanurate foam) rigid insulation for a total R value of over 30. The high albedo roofing materials have a solar reflectance index that is greater than 78 percent, which helps reduce heat gain through the roof and reduces the heat island created by dark roofing materials.

End result: LEED credit points for landscape and exterior design to reduce heat islands, roof (Sustainable Site Credit 7.2) and optimize energy performance (Energy and Atmosphere Credit 1).

• At the copy and print centers inside the building, Bick Group earned LEED credit for optimize energy performance (Energy & Atmosphere Credit 1), indoor chemical and pollutant source control (Indoor Environmental Quality Credit 5), and green cleaning program (Innovation and Design Process Credit 1).

The company’s copy and print centers are fully enclosed, negatively pressurized, and exhausted through the roof to keep ozone and toner particulate out of the occupied space. Although Bick Group employs a cleaning program that utilizes only “green” cleaning products, the janitor closet is similarly exhausted and isolated from the remainder of the building. It’s nice that the blue light above the copy/printer center door is a decorative fixture to designate the space as a destination. Even though these fixtures are on 24/7, they consume very little energy since they use LED lights.

• All of the materials specified for the building contain no or very little VOCs. EcoWarx carpet tiles from Shaw have low VOC content, a high recycled materials content, and are 100 percent recyclable into new carpet backing and yarn. This particular carpet uses a one-to-one carpet tile to access floor panel indexing system called PosiTile®. This indexed carpet tile system uses considerable less adhesive and reduces time and waste associated with reconfiguring the space.

The Floorazzo® lobby floor finish is made with recycled glass and marble. Meanwhile Marmoleum floor finish in the copy/print centers and café is made from rapidly renewable, natural ingredients. Erosurface floor covering in the wellness/fitness room is made from recycled tire rubber.

Put it all together and you get LEED points: three for low-emitting materials, adhesives, paints, and carpet (Indoor Environmental Quality Credit 4.1, 4.2 and 4.3); two for recycled content (Materials and Resources Credits 4.1 and 4.2), plus one each for local/regional materials (Materials and Resources Credits 5.1 and 5.2).

• Rounding out the building, LEED points can be achieved via landscaping and regional materials. For landscaping, Bick Group chose all drought-resistant, native plant species. It also does not have an irrigation system, which reduces potable water consumption and helped the company to achieve an exemplary performance in the Water Efficiency category.

In order to reduce energy consumption associated with materials transportation, the specifications emphasized a need for materials and finishes that were manufactured within a 500-mile radius of St. Louis. The stone featured on the façade of the building, on the reception desk, and on the window sills is a natural Missouri limestone called “chocolate marble” that was mined from a quarry in nearby Perryville, Mo. Similarly, the composite metal panels on the façade were manufactured locally using recycled aluminum from Tennessee and Kentucky.

The LEED credits here include water efficient landscaping (Water Efficiency Credit 1.1 and 1.2), water use reduction (Water Efficiency Credits 3.1 and 3.2), local/regional materials (Materials & Resources Credits 5.1 and 5.2), plus exemplary performance in water use reduction (41 percent) (Innovation and Design Process Credit 1).

To find out more about underfloor air distribution, read the online feature article “Pointing Out the Potential Advantages in UAD” in the June 9, 2008 issue.

Publication date: 06/30/2008

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