Energy Center I and II

File Type: Free Content, Case study
Release Date: January 2010
Average Rating:       (0 Ratings)
Energy Center 1

Fast Facts

Address: Houston, Texas
Company/Developer: Trammell Crow Company
Project Specs: Speculative
Project Type: Office
Square Feet: 638,000

Project History: Trammell Crow Company, in joint venture with Principal Global Investors, acquired land for Energy Center I and II in May 2006. Shortly after construction started, the entire building was leased by Foster Wheeler USA Corporation, for a new corporate headquarters. The development team redesigned Energy Center I five months into construction to achieve LEED® Silver certification. Construction on Energy Center I began October 2006 and the building was completed in January 2008. Construction on Energy Center II began July 2007 and the building was completed in December 2008. Combined, Energy Center I and II represent the largest speculative suburban project delivered in Houston in 2008. 

Commitment to Sustainability

Trammell Crow is committed to the continual expansion of its expertise in environmental sustainability, to making environmental sustainability an integral part of their business, and to assuring their clients and partners have access to TCC's best practices in sustainable planning, design and construction as the optimal development plan for each project is assessed. Their goal is to build value with comprehensive, integrated building solutions that are attentive to the environment, the health of the occupants and the needs of the investors. TCC has a national green task force that sets policy and standards for the company. Twenty-five employees are LEED AP certified and as of June 1, 2010, the firm has more than 13 million square feet of sustainable projects in process or in the pipeline throughout the U.S., spanning nearly every product type, including office, industrial, mixed-use, airport facilities, retail and healthcare.

Green Features

Economic Analysis

  • The functional response from the buildings savings is tracking in line with estimates. TCC anticipates the return on investment from the sustainable features will be about a five year pay back and has calculated savings of $195,600 per year. The upfront investment for the sustainable materials/equipment was roughly $1 million. The combined average savings of operating expenses is $.35/NRA.
  • The development team reduced consumption of non-renewable natural resources by implementing sustainable strategies such as optimizing the HVAC system, using high efficiency glass and introducing a building-wide recycling program. The team created a healthy and comfortable indoor atmosphere for occupants by monitoring air quality, using low VOC-containing materials, and installing glass that maximizes the transmission of natural daylight into the space. The benefits to the tenants are reduced operating expenses, reduced employee absenteeism, turnover and healthcare costs as well as increased productivity.
Energy Center 1 lobby

Site Sustainability/Materials Use

  • The site is located in Woodcreek Park, a corporate office park, and was previously undeveloped and is now a sustainable site. An erosion control plan was developed and implemented during construction to prevent loss of soil into the stormwater collection system and site lighting fixtures were installed with defined cutoff to lessen the impact of light on the Houston night sky and to eliminate direct night glare.
  • Five percent (126) of the parking spaces are reserved for energy efficient vehicles. Bicycle racks and showers in the fitness center are provided to encourage tenants to bike to and from work.
  • "Heat islands," which cause temperature gains in the atmosphere, have been reduced by using covered stacked parking and highly reflective paving materials.
  • The HVAC system uses a non-chemical, pulsed-power, water treatment system to treat the building condenser water, eliminating the release of chlorine, zinc and phosphates into the atmosphere.
  • During building construction, a recycling program was implemented which reduced the impact on landfills from construction debris by 77 percent and building materials were selected that were from rapidly renewable resources and/or partly recycled content, representing a combined average of 29 percent. In addition, TCC's use of locally manufactured and fabricated products was given preference to lessen the impact of necessary travel for delivery of those materials, representing a combined average of 53 percent.
  • A storm water interceptor was implemented that reduces impervious cover, promotes infiltration, captures and treats the stormwater runoff from 90 percent of the average annual rainfall. Using best management practices, the buildings are capable of removing at least 80 percent of the total suspended soils from the average annual post development runoff.
  • The lobby wall is made of eucalyptis wood, a renewable material.  Some of the materials from recycled content include: studs, steel, glass and window framing.

Energy Efficiency

  • The building's mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems were designed to be efficient, and installed for lifetime monitoring to maintain efficiency. Examples include the high efficiency chillers and elevators, as well as a total enthalpy recovery wheel that protects air at intake. The recovery wheel alone has the ability of saving tenants approximately $14,000 per year on operating costs by using the already cooled air to lower the temperature of the outside air.  This piece of equipment has a net value of $63,000, providing a five year pay back.
  • Based on our whole building energy simulation model, we anticipate the buildings will be approximately 17 percent more efficient than baseline building performance rating per ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1-2004 (without amendments).  A computerized monitoring of HVAC and lighting systems was installed to optimize efficiency. Within the Energy Star rating system, Energy Center l was awarded a score of 94.
Energy Center full building

Water Efficiency

  • The building's installed plumbing devices and fixtures are low-flow and/or aerated to reduce consumption.
  • Native plant species were planted, a dry irrigation system is used in the landscaping, and a weather monitoring device was installed to reduce water needed for irrigation. It is estimated that potable water usage will be reduced by 40 percent.


  • Energy Center I was the first building built in the submarket in over seven years and the largest office building in Houston to seek LEED certification. TCC’s decision to seek LEED certification created a paradigm shift with how speculative buildings are built in Houston. This is especially evident in the Energy Corridor submarket, where the five speculative projects that came after Energy Center I all sought some form of LEED certification. Consequently, LEED certification is now considered a prerequisite for new construction.