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Starting From the Bones: Achieving LEED CI Points for Our Philadelphia Office Fit-Out

One week into the early schematic design phase of our Philadelphia office fit-out, Thornton Tomasetti’s Sustainability Practice team, in collaboration with the Philadelphia office team and the architect, L2Partridge, is engaged in an initial assessment of the LEED points we are likely to achieve for the Site and Water credits.  These LEED credits can be achieved before taking even one step into the new office space since they deal mostly with the location and features of the entire building.
 
The location of the building will easily bring us many of the Site credits, because it sits in the downtown core with good access to public transportation and other amenities.  We’re also likely to score well on the Community Connectivity credits - these credits are about being within proximity of services and places where employees can live.  We’ll meet the requirement of having at least 10 basic services within a half-mile of the building, and the residential requirement of 10 residential units per acre. Being in a city definitely has its perks!
 
Through discussions with the building landlord, we’re getting to know the building and what it offers to our search for LEED points. We’ll likely be awarded some additional Site credits for public transportation – not only is the building close to the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) lines, but we don’t get parking through our lease. Considering that all our Philadelphia office employees take public transportation to work, we appear to be in line with meeting the credit. In addition, Site Credit 3.2: Alternative Transportation: Bike Storage and Changing Rooms is within easy reach since there is bike storage and a gym with accessible showers and a changing room.
 
Although this is a fit-out of an existing space, LEED Commercial Interiors (CI) allows for some points that are based on LEED for New Construction. We’re currently looking into the credits for water-efficient landscaping. If the planting beds surrounding the building are watered through drip irrigation, we may be able pick up two additional points, but what would be even better is if a gray water system was used for an additional two points.
 
All this talk about achieving points makes this process seem like a tennis match. However, the USGBC’s LEED system just makes it easier to accomplish the larger goals of designing a high performance space that protects the environment, supports worker efficiency and health, and reduces operations costs. Achieving LEED will be more than a trophy on the wall – as stated by Steve Ross, Thornton Tomasetti’s Chief Information Officer, “As a corporate citizen, we want to practice what we preach.”
 
The next blog entry on Certifying Our Offices will follow the process of bringing green building considerations into early floor plans.