Sustainable Makeovers for Existing Buildings
Over the last several years, has the advantage of reusing con- and Maintenance (LEED-EBOM) in
Ten renovation and retrofit sustainable design has become struction materials and the embed- the current version. To achieve this
projects transform existing much more prominent in the public ded energy involved in originally last rating may or may not require
mind, but it still tends to be associ- transporting them to the site. renovation, because certification
buildings into showcases for ated with new buildings. With the Owners wishing to indicate third- measures the building’s operations
ongoing recession significantly party verification of sustainable and maintenance, but often owners
sustainable strategies. slowing construction and building renovations and retrofits can apply incorporate upgrades to enhance
owners and tenants hunting for for certification from the U.S. Green their scores—as well as to save
ways to cut operating costs, atten- Building Council’s Leadership in electricity and water costs and to
tion is shifting to energy-efficient Energy and Environmental Design exemplify environmental responsi-
renovations and retrofits. (LEED) rating system, including bility. Ultimately, sustainability is a
Working with existing buildings the categories of LEED for New process that extends over the life
involves constraints on certain Construction (LEED-NC) or LEED cycle of an edifice.
aspects of sustainability—e.g., it can for Commercial Interiors (LEED-CI),
be difficult to change a structure’s as well as LEED for Existing Build- Ron nyRen is a freelance architecture and urban
solar orientation or affect its proxim- ings (LEED-EB), now called LEED design writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area.
ity to public transportation—but it for Existing Buildings: Operations
2. 901 Fifth Avenue
The 41-story office building at 901 Fifth Avenue in downtown Seattle, Washington,
was among the city’s earliest skyscrapers when it was constructed during the early
1970s as the Union Bank Tower. But it lost its cachet over the years, with undersized
lobbies and exterior columns that partially obstructed daylight. Boston-based Beacon
Capital Partners purchased the structure in 2004 and initiated a major renovation,
trimming column corners to let in more natural light, creating open floor plans, reno-
vating lobbies, and introducing energy-efficient mechanical and lighting systems,
water-efficient landscaping, a rainwater harvesting system, and a green roof.
Currently owned by real estate investment firms RREEF Real Estate, headquar-
tered in San Francisco, and Kennedy Wilson, headquartered in Beverly Hills, Califor-
nia, the tower has received LEED-EB Silver certification. It is part of a larger project
including a new condominium tower and landscaped public plaza on the same
block, targeted to achieve LEED Gold. Seattle-based Ruffcorn Mott Hinthorne Stine
served as architect on the renovations of 901 Fifth and designed the new tower.
3. Alliance Center
The Alliance for Sustainable Colorado leases offices to nonprofit organizations dedicated
to advancing sustainability. To provide space to carry out this mission, it purchased a 1908
five-story brick warehouse in Denver’s Lower Downtown District with the goal of refashioning
it into a model of green design strategies. Completed in 2006, the refurbished facility earned
both a LEED-EB Gold rating and a LEED-CI Silver rating. Local architecture firm ShearsAdkins
reconfigured the interiors with open floor plans to make the most of the building’s large
AlliAnce for SuSTAinAble colorAdo
windows, extending daylight penetration.
Sustainable features include water-efficient plumbing fixtures, energy-efficient lighting,
low-water landscaping, highly insulated glazing, and extensive use of renewable and recycled
materials—including insulation made from old blue jeans. Digital controls for the mechanical
systems allow for customized temperatures and air flow for the building’s 40-plus zones.
4. Carriage House Children’s Center
The Carriage House Children’s Center (CHCC) is a nonprofit organization that
applied green renovation strategies to a historic structure to provide space for
nonprofit tenants. In addition, the CHCC uses the building to operate its own
early education and preschool program for more than 200 children. Located
in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood, the Wightman School Community
Building was originally erected in 1896 to serve the public school system.
Local architecture firm Moshier Studio worked with the CHCC and Jendoco
Construction Corporation—also local—to overhaul the heating and cooling
system, freeing up more than 2,000 square feet (186 sq m) of program space
in the process. Along with added insulation and new lighting, the system
lindA Jeub PhoTogrAPhy
significantly cuts electricity bills. Low-flow faucets and fixtures and waterless
urinals reduce water use, and more than 95 percent of construction waste
was diverted from landfills for reuse. Completed in 2007, the project earned
a LEED-EB Gold rating.
5. FBI Chicago Building
Even a highly green building can become significantly
greener. USAA Real Estate Company, headquartered in
San Antonio, Texas, used an 11-story structure in Chi-
cago, built in 2006 for the U.S. General Services Admin-
istration to accommodate regional offices of the Federal
Bureau of Investigation, to serve as a pilot project for
the LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Main-
tenance (EBOM) rating system. On the 1-to-100 scale
of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy
dAvid b. Seide/defined SPAce ArchiTecTurAl PhoTogrAPhy
Star program, the facility already scored 78.
By performing retro-commissioning of the mechani-
cal, lighting, and building automation systems, intro-
ducing continuous commissioning, and installing
submeters to better track energy use, property manag-
ers were able to tweak operations and earn an Energy
Star rating of 95—placing it among the top 5 percent in
energy efficiency compared to office buildings nation-
wide. Installing water-efficient plumbing and replacing
nonnative plants with low-water native plantings cut
water use significantly. The facility garnered a LEED-
EBOM Platinum rating.
7. Marks & Spencer
boUrneMoUth, Dorset, U.k.
One of the U.K.’s largest retailers, Marks & Spencer,
headquartered in London, kicked off a plan to green
all of its stores with the retrofit of its 70-year-old
store in Bournemouth, England. London-based archi-
tecture firm 3DReid redesigned the entrance lobbies
with two sets of doors to keep heat from escaping,
replaced display windows with thermally efficient
glazing, and added energy-efficient lighting, refrig-
eration, heating, and ventilation systems.
The air-conditioning system relies on chilled posts
that cool the air only to head height. New dual-flush
toilets and automatic shutoff faucets conserve water.
Carpeting and tiling with low or no hazardous con-
tents were specified, and even some of the display
equipment derives from recycled plastic. Completed
in 2007, the renovation of the 51,000-square-foot
(4,738-sq-m) facility also involved recycling or reusing
MArKS & SPencer
80 percent of construction waste.
8. Scowcroft Building
The Scowcroft Building, erected in downtown Ogden, Utah, around Developer Cottonwood Partners and Cooper Roberts Simonsen Architec-
1900 to house a dry-goods wholesaler, shut its doors during the ture, both of Salt Lake City, restored the exterior, inserted two full-height
late 1950s. After nearly 50 years of vacancy and neglect, the four- atriums to bring in natural light, added reflective roofing, and installed a
story brick structure has found new life as office space for the U.S. high-performance heating and cooling system that relies on under-floor air
General Services Administration. The building offered inherent sus- distribution. Low-flow plumbing fixtures and native and low-water plants
tainable elements, with thick walls and adjacency to a new public reduce water consumption. Completed in 2004 using historic preservation
transit center. tax credits, the renovation earned a LEED Silver rating.
kingsLey, haMPshire, U.k.
As part of a wider effort to retrofit the U.K.’s existing social
housing stock, charitable housing association Drum Housing
Association, based in Petersfield, Hampshire, worked with
London-based climate change and sustainable develop-
ment consultant Energy for Sustainable Development (now
Camco) to substantially upgrade the energy efficiency of six
two- and three-bedroom houses in Kingsley, Hampshire. The
goal was to reduce the carbon emissions of the 1950s-era
dwellings by at least 60 percent against their baseline.
Completed in 2007, the energy-saving measures included
insulating cavity walls and loft spaces and adding double-
glazed windows, energy-efficient mechanical ventilation with
heat recovery, and wastewater heat recovery. New ground
source heat pumps and roof-mounted photovoltaic panels druM houSing ASSociATion
provide renewable energy. At present, Drum Housing is
refurbishing 20 existing precast concrete homes in Peters-
field using a similar set of strategies.
10. World Wildlife Fund Headquarters
Zeist, the netherLanDs
Birds breed in nesting boxes built into the facades; bats have access to Extensive glazing allows natural light to permeate floor plates, while
parts of the basement. The rest of the Dutch headquarters of the World horizontal wooden fins block solar heat gain. Mud plaster lines all
Wildlife Fund in Zeist is for humans. Located within a nature reserve, the interior walls and ceilings. A biodegradable, readily available insulat-
40,580-square-foot (3,770-sq-m) facility was once an agricultural labora- ing material, this mud covers a network of fine tubing that pumps
tory, constructed during the 1950s. Amsterdam-based architecture firm water from below-ground reservoirs, warming the interiors in winter
RAU kept the bar-shaped building’s concrete structure and inserted a and cooling them in summer. Rooftop solar cells and solar thermal
bloblike form at the center to house public functions such as reception collectors provide electricity and hot water. The headquarters was
and meeting rooms. completed in 2006. UL