In recognition of Earth Day, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and its Committee on the Environment (COTE) annually select 10 examples of architectural and green design solutions that protect and enhance the environment. The 10 projects chosen in 2004 address significant environmental challenges with designs that integrate architecture, technology and natural systems. They make a positive contribution to their community, improve comfort for building occupants, and reduce environmental impacts through strategies such as: reuse of existing structures; connection to transit systems; low-impact site development; energy and water conservation; use of sustainable or renewable construction materials; and design that improves indoor air quality. Several of the projects reclaim former brownfield sites.
The jury selected projects that cover a broad spectrum of project types. Facilities include both new construction and renovation of office, retail, residential, academic and institutional facilities. The application forms gave candidates 10 metrics on each project for a quick reading on performance. "Then the text had to show that the submitter knew what he or she was talking about," said jury chair Sandy Mendler, AIA. "This was not a beauty parade, although a lot of the submissions are really good contenders for AIA Honor Awards."
The following review of the 2004 AIA Top 10 Green Projects (listed in alphabetical order), gives special emphasis on materials usage. For detailed information on additional project metrics, such as process, financing, land use, site/water and energy, visit each project's Web site address listed here. These case studies are hosted and managed courtesy of BuildingGreen, Inc.; the database is provided by the U.S. Department of Energy's High Performance Buildings Program.
20 River Terrace, The Solaire
New York City, NY
Cesar Pelli & Associates Architects, New York City
This 27-story, glass-and-brick residential tower in Battery Park City, directly adjacent to the site of the former World Trade Center, meets both the recently enacted New York State Green Building Tax Credit and Gold LEED certification. The architect designed the 357,000-square-foot, 293-unit building to consume 35 percent less energy, reduce peak demand for electricity by 65 percent, require 50 percent less potable water, and provide a healthy indoor environment. An integrated array of photovoltaic panels generates five percent of the building's energy at peak loading. The building incorporates an advanced HVAC system, fueled by natural gas and free of ozone-depleting refrigerants. Daylighting has been maximized, and high-performance casement
windows were used throughout. All residential units include programmable digital thermostats, Energy Star fixtures and a master shutoff switch.
A total of 66.79 percent of the building materials (by cost) were manufactured within a 500-mile radius of the building. An effort was made to ensure that 50 percent of these materials also contained raw materials extracted from the local area. The materials used contained 19 percent recycled content (per LEED calculations), and materials manufactured with renewable or rapidly renewable resources were used whenever possible. The photovoltaic cells were made from 100 percent recycled materials.
Building materials included concrete masonry blocks with a portion of the cement replaced by fly-ash; recycled content gypsum board; locally manufactured brick; cast stone; slate and granite; ceramic tile; recycled content aluminum; and FSC-certified woods. Only materials free of formaldehyde and containing low or no VOCs were used.
High ceilings and large windows provide a generous amount of daylight to all apartments. The lobby was designed to optimize the use of daylight with large windows facing the surrounding park space. Occupancy or daylight sensors are employed in all public spaces. Fluorescent lighting and master shut-off switches are provided in all apartments.
jury comments: "The architect set a high agenda in terms of bringing sustainability and social responsibility to a mainstream project in a competitive market."
for more information: www.aiatopten.org/hpb/overview.cfm?ProjectID=273
Environmental Services Building
Pierce County, WA
The Miller/Hull Partnership, Seattle, WA
This building sits on a 900+ acre site, much of which has been extensively mined for gravel for over 100 years, resulting in a barren landscape. As the first major building constructed under the county's 50-year master plan for the site called "Reclaiming Our Resources," it sets the tone for future development. Driving concepts called for a more humane work environment, introduction of natural light, interior vegetation and views to the exterior. The project attempts to make people aware of being part of a greater regional context by developing the Mt. Rainier axis through the site. Space planning follows a European model: No desk is more than 30 feet to a window. Extensive daylighting studies led to the use of baffles in the skylights, a large western overhang and exterior sunscreens on the east façade. A raised-floor air distribution system reduces the size and energy consumption of the mechanical system, improves indoor air quality, provides for future flexibility, and gives individuals direct control of their immediate environment. Nighttime flushing lowers the temperature of the concrete structure by several degrees, resulting in "free" cooling at the beginning of the day.
The sustainable products and materials used were placed in areas where they have the highest impact and visibility. For example, FSC-certified wood was used for the wood slat ceiling and wall systems; alternative materials such as wheatboard and FSC-certified machiche wood were used for custom cabinetry and decorative partition walls. Sustainably harvested cork wall covering was used at various locations to provide an aesthetic finish and pin-up space for notices, maps and other materials. Concrete floors, along the office perimeter and in the public lobby, were used for durability and to provide a thermal mass where radiant flooring was used. Other recycled content products, such as ceramic tile, toilet partitions, carpeting and steel, were used throughout, as were low-VOC materials including carpeting and other finishes. Prefabricated office furniture minimized production waste and installation labor.
jury comments: "A brownfield site becomes a benchmark for future buildings as the design team applies nontraditional daylighting strategies to create interior spaces that are very humane and sophisticated."
for more information: www.aiatopten.org/hpb/overview.cfm?ProjectID=162
Factor 10 House
EHDD Architects, Chicago
In 2000, the City of Chicago's Departments of Environment and Housing sponsored a national competition to identify creative modifications to the existing "New Homes for Chicago" program. Factor 10 House's cutting-edge design was one of five affordable case study designs chosen to be built. F10's modular design responds to a narrow city site with adjacent buildings, with an open 1,834-square-foot floor plan that incorporates a solar chimney in the stairwell and an open plan that enhances cross ventilation. Window placement maximizes reflected light; the solar chimney includes a south-facing clerestory window that brings natural light to the house's core.
A high-efficiency gas fired boiler and perimeter fintube baseboard provides heating, while natural ventilation delivers the cooling. A wall of water bottles acts as a heat sink in winter.
Rooftop planting modules, some of the pavers and edge treatments are made from 100 percent recycled materials. Pavers at the front walk are made of concrete block that minimizes stormwater runoff. Pavers at the parking area (F10 has no garage) are made of grass block. Some of the surface area is concrete, but grass grows within the paver grid. This system minimizes stormwater runoff, minimizes the paved area, reduces heat accumulation, and allows for the emission of more oxygen.
F10's foundation and basement wall are made from concrete containing flyash. Framing lumber was harvested from sustainably managed forests. The home is insulated with cellulose made from recycled paper, and its siding is an attractive, durable product made of reconstituted cement. Perforated metal awnings provide shade and channel air for ventilation.
Long-lasting Brazilian Ipe hardwood, from a certified forest, is used for the home's deck, and durable cork flooring was used in its interior. F10's carpet is made from recycled plastic soda bottles. All paint contains low levels of VOCs. Dual-flush toilets and low-
flow plumbing fixtures were installed. All kitchen appliances are Energy Star compliant.
jury comments: "In a grassroots movement toward sustainability, the Chicago Housing Authority has built its first affordable housing cooled passively without central air conditioning, helping to lead the building community, including the major retail stores, to these concepts."
for more information: www.aiatopten.org/hpb/overview.cfm?ProjectID=271
Behnisch, Behnisch & Partner Inc., Venice, CA
This headquarters for a biotechnology company sits on a former brownfield site at Kendall Square, a dense, massive‚1970's urban renewal development project built on wetlands fill. All of the environmental design strategies not only contribute to the Platinum LEED rating the building is expected to achieve, but establish an open, spatial atmosphere for building occupants. The high-performance curtain-wall system boasts operable windows on all 12 floors. These windows, linked to the building management system, allow for automated control and night cooling. Also, a third of the exterior envelope is a ventilated double façade with a four-foot buffer that tempers solar gains year round. The building's central atrium space acts as a huge return air duct and light shaft, and steam from a nearby power plant supplies central heating and cooling. The building will also use 32 percent less water than a comparable office building by having waterless urinals, dual-flush toilets, automatic faucets and low-flow fixtures.
The Genzyme Center is framed with filigree slab concrete, an unusual and challenging application in a building with irregular, non-standard floor plans. The concrete structure substantially increased the thermal efficiency of the finished building, while the inherent strength of the filigree slabs also reduced the need for reinforcing steel. By using foam fillers in the panels, the overall structural weight was reduced, thus requiring fewer concrete piles and reducing the foundation elements.
Specifying a customized 12-inch upturned edge on the filigree also allowed for the incorporation of precast filigree slabs, saving more than 2,600 sheets of plywood forms and significant construction time. More than 500 square feet of area within the building is devoted to the storage of recyclables collected as part of the building's recycling program. Twenty-three percent of the building materials in aggregate are recycled material (per LEED calculations). More that 50 percent of the materials were manufactured locally, and nearly 90 percent of the wood products used were FSC-certified.
jury comments: "The corporation invested heavily to make this great piece of architecture a model for corporate offices in the coming decade, with its sophisticated glazing, lighting and mechanical systems that create a growing, active place supportive of its occupants."
for more information: www.aiatopten.org/hpb/overview.cfm?ProjectID=274
Cybul & Cybul Architects, Edgewater, NJ
The Greyston Bakery offers a 23,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art production bakery on a 1.6-acre former brownfield site in an old industrial area near downtown Yonkers, and is intended as a revitalization catalyst to this blighted neighborhood. The building is bisected by a three-level light shaft with translucent floors, then bisected again in the opposite direction by a two-story atrium, which separates the office area from the production bakery and introduces light and air into the offices. The light shaft and atrium also allow natural airflow throughout the bakery. Outside ambient air cools the baked products as they travel down a continuous spiral conveyor.
The building's exterior skin is an insulated galvanized metal panel, which reflects light and heat while creating an excellent insulation system. A concrete-block wall in the atrium creates a distinct aesthetic contrast separating the office area from the bakery. The wall's mass also serves as a heat sink, helping to heat the atrium and the offices. Extensive thermo-pane glazing in thermally broken aluminum frames allows light into the facility. Concrete floors are also used throughout. Recycled products were utilized where possible. The countertops in the office are made of recycled wheat, and the countertops in the employee break room are made of recycled glass. The structure is made of prefabricated steel members.
jury comments: "This is a cultural ecology where the design team understood that a workplace is not just a box you work in, but a quality environment to maintain workers; one in which the fundamental processes reveal the greatest potential for energy savings."
for more information: www.aiatopten.org/hpb/overview.cfm?ProjectID=299
Krueck & Sexton Architects, Chicago, IL
At the most fundamental level, reuse of a building is one of the most sustainable strategies available. This project restores, revitalizes and transforms a classic, but aging Modern building into an environmentally responsive, high-quality workplace. Located on the company's main campus, this two-story 1974 office building housed Herman Miller's executives until 1997. Architects stripped the interior to structure and replaced it with minimal finishes using 50 percent recycled content. They also reorganized it to provide maximum daylight penetration and 100 percent line-of-sight to the landscape. With 69 of its total energy produced on site, the redesign achieved a 29 percent reduction in energy consumption over ASHRAE 90.1-1999, mainly through envelope improvements and high-efficiency mechanical equipment and lighting.
Returning the building to its structural and material simplicity is a central design element. The beauty of original structural materials—steel framing, decking and brick—were revealed and became interior finishes. Absorptive materials such as ceiling tiles were utilized sparingly to achieve selective noise control. New construction at the mezzanine balustrades utilizes painted steel for durability, longevity and potential disassembly. Low-VOC paint, carpet and sealant were used exclusively.
Fifty-seven percent of the project material content was produced within 500 miles of the site. More than 50 percent of the fit-up materials contain at least 20 percent post-consumer recycled content. The furniture contains more than 50 percent recycled content.
The demolition and construction process recovered 75 percent of its waste. Glass, metal, GWB, copper, plastics and cardboard were separated on site. Herman Miller sold salvageable products and materials, such as wood doors, at a nominal cost to employees for personal projects.
jury comments: "As if Saarinen had returned with more tools and an additional 30 years experience in sustainable use, good light and air, this sweet little exposed-structure box shows that the Top 10 is also about extending the life of existing buildings in clever ways."
for more information: www.aiatopten.org/hpb/overview.cfm?ProjectID=270
Lake View Terrace Branch Library
Los Angeles, CA
Fields Devereaux Architects & Engineers/GreenWorks, Los Angeles
The Lake View Terrace Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library system enjoys a spacious main reading room that stretches along the east-west axis providing dramatic views of the park to the south. The site's stormwater runoff was reduced by 25 percent with landscaping features that include a series of radial bioswales for efficient rainwater infiltration. More than 75 percent of construction waste was diverted from landfills to local recycling facilities. The library's energy performance is more than 40 percent more efficient than California standards. Night venting takes advantage of its exterior insulated, high-mass concrete masonry unit (CMU) shell. Approximately 80 percent of the public spaces are naturally ventilated via mechanically interlocked windows controlled by a sophisticated energy management system. A building-integrated photovoltaic system shades the entry and roofs the community room while providing 15 percent of the building's energy. The design provides nearly 100 percent shading of glazing for glare-free daylight during operating hours. The program called for a LEED Platinum building; it is the first project of the city to attempt this level.
The building shell, constructed from CMUs and engineered to last 100 years, is exposed on the interior to provide thermal mass as part of the building's cooling strategy. The masonry is burnished to provide an elegant finish surface and to minimize the use of paint. Low-VOC finishes were used to support indoor environmental quality goals and minimize disruption of operations caused by maintenance. Glue-laminated beams are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Fifteen percent of the material used
contains recycled content (per LEED calculations). Fly ash replaced 20 percent of the portland cement in concrete and masonry grout. Other high-recycled content materials include steel, carpet, ceiling, wall and floor tile, and building insulation. Sixty percent of the material came from sources within 500 miles of the building site (30 percent was from within 100 miles), and over half was harvested locally.
jury comments: "Ample daylight without glare, the distinguished evaporative cooling tower that greets you at the entryway, natural ventilation, inventive use of color, careful material selection and outstanding views make this library wonderful."
for more information: www.aiatopten.org/hpb/overview.cfm?ProjectID=289
The Plaza at PPL Center
Robert A.M. Stern Architects, New York City
(in association with Kendall/HeatonAssociates and with support from environmental building consultant Atelier Ten)
This LEED Gold high-performance urban office building was designed and built in 18 months on a suburban real estate budget ($104 per square foot hard cost for the shell and core) and is the first new office development in downtown for over 25 years. A dramatic eight-story glass atrium brings natural light deep into the core of the building, while extensive perimeter glazing provides panoramic views and abundant daylight directly to all building spaces. A pair of two-story plant-filled winter gardens along the south façade of the building provide unique workspaces for the occupants, bring daylight deeper into the floor plates, control glare and improve indoor air quality. The building's layout and efficient building systems reduce energy demand by more than 30 percent over code requirements. Water use is 45 percent below code requirements, and construction materials contained more than 20 percent recycled content.
More than 20 percent of the building materials (by cost) is composed of recycled materials such as structural steel and rebar, metal framing and panels, gypsum wallboard, carpet and medium density fiberboard (MDF) wood. In addition, more than 85 percent of the wood-based materials are FSC certified. Approximately 25 percent of building materials (by cost) were manufactured within 500 miles of the building.
Interior finish materials were selected for low emissions of VOCs and other contaminants. High-traffic materials were selected for durability, environmentally friendly maintenance requirements, easy cleaning and the ability to be completely recycled. Office operations emphasize recycling, and all floors have a recycling center located adjacent to the kitchen area.
jury comments: "With a clean aesthetic in a conventional building block, this project makes a number of nice moves—with double envelopes, daylight and a winter garden—to frame a public space and contribute it to the city."
for more information: www.aiatopten.org/hpb/overview.cfm?ProjectID=259
White Rock Operations Building
White Rock, British Columbia
Busby + Associates Architects, Vancouver, British Columbia
The City of White Rock mandated that its new Operations Building be as environmentally sustainable as reasonably possible, in accordance with the city's own policy. The 6,545-square-foot building earned a LEED Gold certification through strategies that included photovoltaic panels for electricity and solar tubes to provide base radiant heating for the building. Daylight light shelves reduce lighting needs. A green sod roof reduces runoff from impermeable surfaces, while a pervious parking lot allows infiltration of water into the ground. The facility also uses storm water rather than potable water to wash down city vehicles and for toilets; waterless urinals and low-flow faucets throughout the facility further reduce water consumption.
Material selection was made using the following criteria: impact on the interior environment, reduction of VOCs and related material off-gassing. All paints, sealants, adhesives, carpets and composite woods meet the LEED criteria for low emitting materials.
Where possible, materials manufactured locally were selected in an effort to reduce energy consumed in the transportation of building materials. As a result, more than 31 percent of the building materials were procured from manufacturers within 500 miles of the construction site. Of those materials, 75 percent were harvested within 500 miles of the site. Selecting building products containing recycled material was achieved through the use of flyash in the concrete mix, rubber flooring, gypsum board and carpet. Materials also were selected for their durability and quality, extending the useful life of the building.
The wood-frame building includes reclaimed timbers and roof decking. The building is clad in locally harvested and manufactured West Coast cedar. The trellis screening the west-facing office pavilion is constructed of recycled telephone poles.
Ninety-eight percent of all construction waste (based on weight), was reused or recycled and diverted from the landfill.
jury comments: "A truly sustainable building that humans will use, cherish and maintain over time, this collaborative achievement succeeds at all levels: massing, use of daylight, orientation, the way the water works on the site, and the use of materials."
for more information: www.aiatopten.org/hpb/overview.cfm?ProjectID=288
Gilman Ordway Building, Woods Hole Research Center
Woods Hole, MA
William McDonough + Partners, Charlottesville, VA
Working within a challenging and constrained site, the design preserves the cultural landscape represented by an existing 19th-century summer home, respectfully and adaptively reusing the original house and adding contemporary office, laboratory and common spaces. The all-electric building relies on renewable energy sources, including a grid-connected and net-metered 26.4-kW photovoltaic array that powers the building's closed-loop ground-source heat pump system. A planned on-site wind turbine will likely make the building a net-energy exporter. Icynene spray foam insulates all exterior walls and roof assemblies, creating a technically and ecologically effective air barrier and optimizing R-values. Other components include offset-stud framing, double- and triple-glazed argon-insulated low-e windows, enthalpy wheels that recapture heat and moisture from exhaust air and precondition incoming fresh air, and high-efficiency lighting controls and occupancy monitors.
The open two-story "commons" area at the junction of the two structures serves as the physical and visual focus for occupants of both sections. Large expanses of glass offer views into the forest canopy to the northwest and to the rhododendron garden to the southeast. This visual connection produces a prevailing sense of integration with the surrounding landscape. A simple interior materials palette—most of which can be defined as either "silica" (glass, stone) or "cellulose" (wood)—supports the health of the building's occupants and local and distant ecosystems while reinforcing the project's design principles.
The center's forest research and policy initiatives emphasize the importance of using FSC-certified and sustainably harvested lumber throughout the building. Examples include sustainably harvested ash millwork; certified fir windows; certified maple flooring from Maine; certified cedar shingles, clapboard siding, and trim; and certified framing
lumber and decking to the extent possible.
Careful selection of furnishings favors products with high recycled content in aluminum, fabrics, desk substrates, veneer and steel components.
jury comments: "By testing and understanding how to achieve the highest level of performance in environmentally sensitive elements, such as water recovery and sole-source wind-turbine energy, this building raises the bar very high for the next generation of buildings."
for more information: www.aiatopten.org/hpb/overview.cfm?ProjectID=257