New York Office Achieves Highest Possible Leed Platinum Certification

Published: Jan 6, 2009
New York, NY - 
Continuing its role as a pioneer in sustainable workplaces, the National Audubon Society has earned the competitive LEED® Platinum Certification for its new eco-friendly headquarters in New York City. The 27,500 square foot rental space at 225 Varick Street received the highest point total of any commercial interior in the world evaluated for certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. Audubon's redesign of the space was completed for only 10 percent above the cost of less environmentally friendly modifications. Its green improvements will pay for themselves in 10-15 years, depending on energy costs.

"Audubon is again helping to raise the bar for environmentally-friendly office environments in New York City and beyond," said Audubon President John Flicker. "Our new home office demonstrates Audubon's commitment to providing employees with a cost-effective, productive and comfortable workplace that fits our environmental values and also allows us to concentrate financial resources on our conservation mission. Most importantly, what we've done here is a model of cost-effective sustainability that can be replicated by others."

"Audubon's LEED Platinum certification demonstrates tremendous green building leadership," said Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO & Founding Chair, U.S. Green Building Council. USGBC manages the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification program, which includes four levels of certification: LEED Certified, LEED Silver, LEED Gold, and, the highest, LEED Platinum.

The Audubon headquarters also received an Award of Merit from New York Construction Magazine as one of the Best Green Projects of 2008.

Audubon has a history of environmentally sustainable design, having renovated the first green building in New York City in 1992, before the USGBC established LEED criteria. Green building practices have also been employed at many of the venerable non-profit's facilities across the nation, including several LEED certified Audubon Nature Centers.

Audubon's LEED Platinum achievement in New York reflects an exceptional array of sustainable features, among them: 

* Energy efficient systems focused on resource conservation
* Low flow and automatic fixtures to reduce water usage.
* Energy Star Appliances are being used for a majority of the office needs.
* Under floor air distribution system
* Utilizes the natural buoyancy of air to heat and cool the space, which requires less fan energy and allows for greater energy efficiency and improved occupant control as compared to ceiling supply and return systems.
* Sophisticated sensors and controls
* Interior lighting design achieves greater energy efficiency by using indirect lighting fixtures, low wattage bulbs, and a daylight harvesting system that automatically dims lights to adjust to the level of daylight present.
* Daylight penetration for the entire floor
* Large windows and furniture open-plan design allow the sun to provide cost and pollution-free lighting. The former printing building at 225 Varick has windows more than 8 feet tall in banks 15 feet wide, which influenced the choice of the new space.
* Use of recycled and locally produced materials
* The office incorporates materials such as steel, drywall, carpet, and acoustic ceiling tiles selected for their high level of recycled content to reduce the need to extract virgin materials. The carpeting, for example, features a backing made from recycled tires. The ceiling is covered with an off white material made from recycled paper.
* Wherever possible, materials manufactured within a 500 mile radius were selected to reduce the energy associated with transporting materials.
* Most wood used on the project is either salvaged or certified by the Forest Stewardship Council to support sustainable growing practices. In particular, tables were created from fallen walnut trees salvaged from the Hudson River Valley and Western, PA. Recycled barn siding is used in the reception area.
* Rapidly renewable resources such as cork and bamboo were favored for cabinets and limited floor tiles.
* Reducing the amount of landfill bound waste generated by this project was a top priority.
* A Construction Waste Management Plan diverted more than 75% of construction debris away from landfills.
* The furniture was specifically chosen for sustainability in manufacturing.

High indoor environmental quality
* Indoor air quality was boosted through the use of low emission paints, glues, adhesives, sealants, carpets, composite woods and furniture systems.
* A green cleaning program ensures that only environmentally safe clean solutions are used in the space to further protect air quality for Audubon staffers. 

Alternative Transportation
* Located in Manhattan's Hudson Square, the Audubon office is within a few yards of major subway and bus lines, allowing employees and visitors to take advantage of energy-saving mass transit.

Many of these features contributed to the accumulation of points required for LEED Commercial Interiors certification. Other features provide additional advantages. Audubon employees previously housed on several different floors now benefit from collaboration and collegiality that comes with encounters in the hallways and common spaces on one level. Panoramic views east and north allow the occasional glimpse of the feathered friends Audubon works to protect.

Interior design and architectural services were provided by FXFOWLE Architects, who designed The New York Times Building in association with Renzo Piano Building Workshop. Engineering services were provided by Flack & Kurtz; sustainability consulting services were provided by YRG Consulting; owners rep services by Bovis Lend Lease. The general contractor was Citadel Construction. Furniture was manufactured by Herman Miller.

To see a video with before and after images: http://web1.audubon.org/video/player_leeds.html 

More info at www.audubon.org/nas/nat_office.html 

To download photos you can use  http://audubon.org/news/pressroom/LEED/LEED_images.html

For more photo options, please click here to contact  

Please contact dwillis@audubon.org to organize a tour of the office space.

###
The National Audubon Society saves birds and their habitats throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon's state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon's vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more at www.audubon.org and @audubonsociety.

Press Contacts

Nancy Severance
Director - Marketing and Communications
Main Office
225 Varick Street
New York, NY 10014
nseverance@audubon.org
212 979-3124