New USGBC HQ Earns Triple Platinum Status

MONDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2023


On Wednesday (Oct. 25), the U.S. Green Building Council announced that its recently completed headquarters building in Washington, D.C., has been awarded a prestigious triple Platinum certification in LEED, TRUE and WELL.

According to the USGBC’s release, the new HQ is the first project in the world to achieve the three Platinum certifications, which the Council says reflects both “USGBC’s commitment to healthy, productive, sustainable and responsible work environments,” as well as “the changing office landscape, with a clear emphasis on decarbonization, indoor environmental quality and resource efficiency.”

The new HQ project was reportedly a renovation of the organization’s former space, which was a LEED Gold-certified commercial building designed in the 1970s. The updated building will now serve as the USGBC’s home base, as well as Green Business Certification, Inc. (GBCI).

“Our triple Platinum space models the mission and values of USGBC and GBCI,” said Peter Templeton, president and CEO, USGBC and GBCI.

About the New HQ

Operating as both a workplace and a hub for collaboration with partners and members, the USGBC says that the new HQ project prioritized reuse, from furniture to equipment to supplies, leading to a 44% reduction in embodied carbon emissions—below the Carbon Leadership Forum baseline for an interior buildout.

The USGBC says that the project was able to employ sustainability and wellness strategies throughout the design process to achieve reductions in embodied carbon and life cycle emissions. The Council reportedly partnered with the Building Transparency Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (EC3) Tool to research and specify materials with a low embodied carbon impact.

The project team also reportedly completed a tallyCAT Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), which helped them determine further methods of reducing emissions in embodied, operational and end-of-use scenarios.

Workspaces were reportedly reconfigured, and the project reused all kitchen materials, mailing supplies, flooring from the lobby, window shades and more.

“Keeping materials out of landfills was a top priority that was achieved through careful planning, targeted demolition and innovative reuse,” said Melanie Mayo-Rodgers, director, facilities, USGBC.

Noteworthy project highlights that contributed to the triple Platinum certification include:

  • 95% of the original construction materials were reused or diverted from landfill, including ceiling tiles, ceiling grid, drywall, glass panels, hardware, millwork and terrazzo flooring;
  • 60% of furniture and supplies were reused. To further avoid landfill, USGBC offered furniture to staff, donated items and sold items at auction; and
  • Multiple offices were kept in place and intact, reducing demolition waste.

“We succeeded in reducing not only waste, but also our project costs and environmental footprint,” said Mayo-Rodgers.

The USGBC also says that the project has won several industry awards for sustainability, wellness and resource efficiency since its completion, including from the American Society of Interior Designers, the National Association for Industrial and Office Parks and the American Institute of Architects' Washington, D.C., chapter.

The new office is reportedly being used as a hybrid workspace, and is designed to be “more inclusive, adaptive, collaborative and configurable for staff needs,” the USGBC says. Along with working spaces, the building reportedly features dedicated wellness activity rooms, as well as a podcast recording studio.

The project’s triple Platinum certifications mean the project has achieved the highest levels of compliance in the following categories:

  • LEED ID+C tracks carbon emissions to conserve resources, reduce operating costs, prioritize sustainable practices, and create a healthier environment in interior spaces;
  • WELL sets performance requirements for quality in air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind; and
  • TRUE measures zero waste performance by encouraging the adoption of sustainable resource management and waste reduction practices.

The USGBC attributed the success of this project to the various stakeholders on the team, including:

  • Perkins&Will (design and project management);
  • SK&A (structural engineering);
  • JLL (owner's representative);
  • GHT Limited (MEP engineering);
  • Advanced Building Performance, Inc. (commissioning agent);
  • Hotbed Technologies (audio visual);
  • Newmark (lease negotiation);
  • JBG Smith (landlord and building owner); and
  • HITT Contracting (general contractor).

A virtual tour of the new HQ, as well as the project's scorecards, are available on the USGBC's website.

Other USGBC News

Last month, the USGBC and GBCI announced the appointment of three leaders to its global management team. According to the press release, Sarah Zaleski will serve as Chief Products Officer, Pete Tolsdorf will serve as General Counsel and Andy Burr will work as Chief of Staff.

“Sarah, Pete and Andy are outstanding additions to our global leadership team as we work to drive the innovation in policy, technology, and practice needed to transform the built environment,” said Templeton.

“Their leadership experience strengthens our ability to deploy proven solutions at the scale needed to address the urgent challenges facing communities worldwide and to accelerate progress towards a sustainable, prosperous and equitable future for all.”

The appointments arrived as the USGBC was planning to mark its 30th anniversary at the annual Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Washington, D.C., which was held Sept. 26-29.

Zaleski, the USGBC reports, brings a “record of achievement at the intersection of sustainability, climate and the built environment at the local, national and international levels.” She has previously served in senior roles at the U.S. Department of Energy and has worked with the City of Baltimore’s Office of Sustainability.

In the newly created position, Zaleski will reportedly work with the CEO, boards of directors, and members of the executive team to lead strategy, development, delivery and optimization of the global portfolio of USGBC and GBCI programs and services, including research, standards and education.

According to the council, Tolsdorf is a legal expert with leadership experience in energy and standard-setting, previously serving as senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.

Additionally, he has held senior legal and policy leadership roles at trade associations, including the National Association of Manufacturers, an attorney-advisor at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and a litigation associate at a large international law firm.

Described as a sustainability leader and changemaker, Burr previously served in leadership capacities at early-stage technology ventures, including Ecountabl. He has reportedly served in multiple roles at DOE from 2014 to 2019.

Prior to his time in public service, he directed a $20 million special climate project in partnership with U.S. mayors and global philanthropies. He has also advised major U.S. presidential campaigns on climate strategy.

   

Tagged categories: Adaptive reuse; Asia Pacific; Beneficial reuse; Building operations; Building owners; Commercial / Architectural; Completed projects; Decorative Finishes; Design - Commercial; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Environmental Controls; Good Technical Practice; Green building; Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI); Health & Safety; Latin America; LEED; Maintenance + Renovation; North America; PaintSquare; PaintSquare App - Commercial; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Projects - Commercial; Recycled building materials; Renovation; Sustainability; U.S. Green Building Council; United States Green Building Council (USGBC); Z-Continents

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