HSBC Chicago North

File Type: Free Content, Case study
Release Date: January 2008
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HSBC North America

*2008 Green Development Award Winner*

Fast Facts

Address: Mettawa, Illinois
Company/Developer: Hamilton Partners, Inc.
Architect: Wright Heerema Architects
Project Specs: Built-to-Suit
Project Type: Office
Square Feet: 576,000 gsf

Project History: HSBC has a corporate commitment to the implementation of green building and sustainable design features for all of their current and future facilities. Additional driving factors included their desire to upgrade their facilities, establish a new work place standard for their business environment, consolidate a significant number of people, business groups, and services from multiple locations to a singular location, reduce their overall operating costs, and implement an alternative work strategy, including increased capacity for employees to work from home.

Commitment to Sustainability

HSBC has an on-going green program that provides education on the project’s sustainable design features. This includes two 42” flat panel touch screen kiosks in the building, known as the “Green Touchscreens,” brochures which describe the green amenities, HSBC video and digital signage throughout the building on flat panel monitors, and the company’s Intranet site, which is available to all company employees outside the facility as well as those inside. HSBC has lead tours through the development for others involved in green buildings, school field trips, World Wildlife Foundation, Smithsonian Tropical Climate Institute, Earthwatch Institute, The Climate Group, and during Greenbuild 2007 Chicago. HSBC will offset 100 percent of all electricity consumed in the building by purchasing Green-e certified Renewable Energy credits from FPL Energy Power Marketing, Inc.

Green Features

Economic Analysis

  • A budget for green and sustainable design features was established by HSBC. During the design phase, the engineer’s calculations estimated these features reduced energy usage would result in an estimated savings of $512,204/year just for electrical costs, assuming .078 $/kWh. This savings was based on a design as compared to a standard ASHRAE 90.1 building design. In the construction phase, approximately $3 million was spent on the building’s green and sustainable features. Based on energy savings alone, the expected return on that investment would be about six years.
  • The engineer’s calculations for the baseline case show the building could have used as much as 6.1 million gallons of water annually. With water saving features, including the rain water capture system that will collect and reuse as much as 1.8 million gallons annually, the building’s total water use is estimated to be only 1.9 million gallons, which represents a 69 percent reduction in city provided potable water.
interior of the HSBC North America building

Site Sustainability/Materials Use

  • Provides a private, permanent shuttle to the local rail station.
  • A bicycle storage area (150 spaces), 16 changing rooms and showers and 120 specially designated parking spaces for alternative fuel or fuel efficient vehicles are provided.
  • The zoning ordinance required a minimum of 25 percent of the site be maintained as open space. Through efficient planning and the developer’s commitment to the additional expense of structured parking, the open space maintained was maximized. The total site area consisted of over 1,250,000 square feet. Over 569,000 square feet, or 45 percent of the total area, was maintained as open space, including landscaped areas and the site’s permanent ponds.
  • Storm Water Management: Site features remove 80 percent of the average annual post-development total suspended solids and 40 percent of the average annual post-development total phosphorous, and included the following: grassed swales, constructed wetlands, and detention ponds – wet ponds.
  • Used multiple landscaping and exterior design strategies to reduce the heat island effect for both non-roof and roof areas.
  • The main roof areas at the top of the building, were roofed with an Energy Star compliant white adhered TPO single ply roof membrane system. This roofing material’s high emissivity factor of 0.92 indicates its ability to reflect a substantial amount of solar energy back to the sky rather than absorbing it and re-radiating back to the sky at night. A lower roof area was roofed with a green roof system covering approximately 2,800 square feet. The green roof system’s plant materials assist with the reduction of the heat island effect.
  • Used approximately 44 percent material manufactured locally (within 500 miles), and approximately 18 percent material extracted locally.
  • The project achieved a 17 percent recycled content value overall. Specific materials used to help achieve our project goal include: reinforcing steel (95 percent), structural steel (92 percent), fly ash in concrete (3 percent), spray fireproofing (22 percent), gypsum drywall (95 percent), carpet (60 percent),  marmoleum flooring, acoustical ceiling tile (40 percent) and raised access floor panels (17 percent).
lobby of the HSBC North America building

Energy Efficiency

  • The building saves 50.1 percent in energy costs versus a similar building with ASHRAE 90.1-1999 criteria for building envelope, lighting, heating, ventilating, airconditioning, and service hot water heating.
  • The windows have tinted, low-e glass at the occupant level to prevent glare and reduce the solar load, while the top sections have clear, low-e glass to promote increased natural lighting. Improved wall and roof insulation and above-grade wall insulation add further energy efficiency to the building’s envelope.
  • The day lighting system for open office areas accounts for approximately 40 percent of the building’s area. The control system includes photo sensors with dimmable ballasts that adjust to programmable light levels for the space.
  • The UFAD system provides air flow from the floor, which allows heat rising from lights, equipment, and people to continue to rise into the plenum and not enter the occupant space.
  • Demand controlled ventilation for the main supply fans.

Water Efficiency

  • Reduces water use by 67.7 percent, reducing wastewater generation by 81.8 percent, reducing process water usages by 400,000 gallons, and eliminating the need for potable water use for irrigation.
  • Dual flush toilets and low flow urinals: The dual flush fixture allows for a combination of flow rates, a conventional water closet flow rate of 1.6 gpf and a low flow water closet flow rate of 1.1 gpf. Due to code limitations in Illinois, we were unable to utilize water-less urinals, however we still achieved some water savings. Low flow urinals provide a flow rate of .5 gpf compared with the conventional urinal flow rate of 1.0 gpf.
  • Uses rainwater, when available, for toilet and urinal flushing. Rainwater from the 90,729-square-foot roof is collected and stored in tanks buried underground. Each tank is capable of storing 15,000 gallons of rainwater for reuse in the toilet and urinal flushing for a total of 30,000 gallons of rainwater storage. Based on local weather data of an average rainfall of 34.02 inches/year and a roof run-off coefficient of .95, the rainwater storage system will be capable of providing 1,827,909 gallons of water per year.


  • One product incorporated was Forbo’s Marmoleum (Linoleum) flooring. Marmoleum is produced from renewable materials: linseed oil, rosins, wood flour, jute and ecologically responsible pigments.
  • The building collects and reuses condensate that would drain to municipal sewer systems from the cooling coils that provide building cooling. The condensate recovery system works by gravity flow from each of the four cooling  coils in the penthouse into the lower level mechanical room. The condensate is then pumped back into the condenser water return pipe to reduce the demand for cooling tower make up. We estimate 140 gal/hour of condensate off each coil at full cooling load which equates to 560 gal/hour for the building’s cooling system. A conservative estimate of water savings, based on total cooling hours, is 400,000 gallons of water per year.