Hess Tower

File Type: Free Content, Case study
Release Date: December 2012
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Hess Tower exterior

Fast Facts

Address: Houston, Texas
Company/Developer: Trammell Crow Company
Project Specs: New Construction
Project Type: Office
Square Feet: 844,763

Project History: Hess Tower is a 29-story, premier Class AA, LEED® Platinum office tower located in the heart of downtown Houston. Sitting on 2.15 acres, it was developed to support the revitalization of downtown Houston’s Entertainment District. It broke ground in March 2008 as a speculative development and the first, pre-certified LEED Gold building to be constructed in Houston’s CBD. Late in 2008, Hess Corporation, a global energy firm, signed a long-term lease to occupy the entire building. The tower is also pursuing an EPA ENERGY STAR with a performance rating of 99 out of 100. It was completed June 2011.

Trammell Crow Company and its joint venture partner Principal Real Estate Investors purchased the site in March 2007, which was formerly a parking lot. The project broke ground in March 2008 as a speculative office development and the first pre-certified LEED Gold office building to ever be constructed in Houston’s Central Business District. The building was completed in June 2011 and exceeded in its sustainability efforts by receiving LEED Platinum designation. The tower sold to a Canadian investor H&R REIT in December 2011.

The goal of the project was to conserve energy, water and non-renewable natural resources and createthe healthiest, most comfortable and most productive work environment.

Commitment to Sustainability

Trammell Crow Company is dedicated to building value for its clients with professionals in 15 major cities throughout the U.S. and Canada. TCC delivers integrated, full-service solutions that anticipate changing customers’ needs and set new industry standards. This is accomplished by leveraging an unparalleled global real estate network, cutting edge technology and best practice processes, taking customer service to the highest level by making it the top priority.

Trammell Crow Company is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council with 25 LEED accredited professionals. The company currently has more than 19 million square feet of projects throughout North America under development or in the pipeline that are LEED certified, seeking LEED certification or have sustainable elements.

Trammell Crow Company recognizes that prudent environmental stewardship is a fundamental social and ethical corporate responsibility and has incorporated sustainability guidelines and practices into numerous projects in all product types that comprise its core business. Pursuing environmentally responsible building solutions that generate long term economic benefits for the company’s financial partners and meet the long term objective of its tenants, employees and the community is an upmost priority.

As a leader in commercial real estate development, Trammell Crow Company is committed to the continued expansion of its expertise in environmental sustainability, to making sustainability an important part of its business and to assuring that its clients and financial partners have access to Trammell Crow Company’s best practices in sustainable planning, design and construction for each project. The company’s 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.

Green Features

Economic Analysis

In November 2008, nine months after groundbreaking, the global energy firm Hess Corporation signed a long-term lease to occupy the entire building through 2026. In December 2011, the building was sold to H&R REIT, a Canadian open-ended Real Estate Investment Trust. The transaction set the record for highest price per square foot ever paid for an office asset in Houston.

In addition to the economic successes of the project, Hess Tower has also proven to raise the bar for sustainability success. Hess Tower is certified at the LEED Platinum level and is approximately 20 percent more energy efficient than a typical office building, featuring a number of sustainable features such as:

  • A highly efficient energy recovery unit, located near the roof, which utilizes the embodied energy in air leaving the building to pre-treat the incoming outdoor air. Life‐cycle cost analysis showed an anticipated simple payback of approximately six years on the $100,000+ investment.
  • CO2‐Based Demand Controlled Ventilation (DCV) System ‐ Consisted of a system of variable air volume (VAV) terminals, CO2 sensors and variable speed drives (VSD) installed on the outside air and relief/exhaust air systems to measure and optimize the amount of fresh (outside) air introduced in the building by measuring and comparing CO2 levels in the occupied space to ambient levels. Life‐cycle costanalysis showed an anticipated simple payback of approximately four years on the $80,000+ investment.
  • High‐efficiency Central Plant ‐ Consisted of an optimized central plant including chillers, cooling towers, pumps and controls designed to match the building's anticipated load profile. Plant optimization occurred after bid, during submittal process to allow competitive bidding throughout procurement of contractors and equipment. Payback was <3 months.
seating area in Hess Tower

Materials Use

  • The building envelope is a high-performance curtain wall with floor-to-ceiling low-E coating insulated glass, pre-finished aluminum spandrel panels and column covers in selected areas to minimize heat gain. In addition, the south face of the building is complemented by horizontal aluminum sun shades.
  • Lobby levels glazing is a clear span, mechanically fastened, clear glass system that maximizes openness and views of the plaza and the park.
  • The office tower roof utilizes a white reflective TPO membrane.
  • Asian jasmine and liriope plants were selected as roof cover for the porte-cochere roof to decrease heat island effect and offer minimal maintenance.

Energy Efficiency

  • Energy Star Portfolio Manager is used to monitor energy and water consumption. Installation of submeters on non-standard tenant floors (data center and more submeters are planned for strategic monitoring of high consumption equipment (i.e. Kitchen)). Meter monitoring software is planned for future use to identify irregular consumption. Many LEEF components are monitored such as recycling, IAQ, sustainable product purchasing, and tenant construction materials. Plans are being developed to monitor irrigation.
  • Heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems were needed to decrease airflow due to Houston’s high humidity. The air handling units on each floor are powered by a 20-horsepower motor, which is smaller than those found within comparable buildings in Houston. To ensure comfortable temperatures throughout the building, each floor is regulated separately. Mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection systems use technology to control both Hess Tower’s temperature, while also monitoring carbon dioxide levels within the building.
  • In order to track future energy usage, Trammell Crow Company added energy monitoring meters. An energy recovery wheel was also installed to help reduce energy costs. Additional energy efficiency strategies include: computerized HVAC and lighting systems monitoring devices, renewable energy credits to promote integration of clean energy.
  • There is a 10-level, structured parking garage attached via skywalk to the building. The building envelope is a high-performance curtain wall with floor-to-ceiling glass, prefinished aluminum spandrel panels and column covers in selected areas. The glazing panels are energy-efficient, insulated units with a low-E coating. In addition, the south face of the building is complemented by horizontal aluminum sun shades. These features improve thermal comfort and enhance building efficiency. Typical window spacing is 5’ and horizontal mullions are at 24” above the floor. Lobby level glazing is a clear span, mechanically fastened, clear glass system that maximizes openness and views of the plaza and the park.
  • Predicted use of the building changed to include a tier three data center as well as a full service cafeteria, which increased load dramatically. Adding these two components together, these account for more than 50 percent of the building electrical load.

Water Efficiency

  • Trammell Crow Company implemented several water efficiency elements into the design, development and construction of Hess Tower in order to increase overall efficiency and maximize savings. The project’s commitment to sustainable design is reflected in the irrigation system, landscaping and water-use reduction fixtures.
  • In an effort to minimize downtown Houston’s heat-island effect, a phenomenon that causes urban developments to become warmer than their rural surroundings, a living roof was implemented to absorb rainwater and act as a natural sound insulation. Roof top vegetation gardens mitigate urban heat islands by reducing energy use, improve air quality, lowering greenhouse gas emissions, reducing pavement maintenance, and improving quality of life for the community by providing aesthetic value and noise reduction. Common local plants were used for landscaping to reduce water usage. A tank was installed to collect rainwater and condensation, which is used to irrigate the landscaping.
interior of Hess Tower


  • Hess Tower is served by METRO busses every 15 minutes, is within three blocks of the Main Street light rail transfer station, and the project’s garage is adjacent to the new light rail line currently under construction. Hess has an active employee information program that disseminates information on mass transit options. The project also has reserved parking for hybrid vehicles and bicycle racks.
  • The building features additional convenience with valuable proximity to existing and future mass transit lines. The property is situated just five blocks from an existing METRORail station along the Main Street line. Additionally, the East and West lines of the future Southeast METRORail line will run along both Rusk and Capitol streets, with two stations located within one and two blocks of the property. Currently under construction, the Southeast line is projected to be fully operational by 2014. Site Development

Site Development

  • An important element in the urban landscape surrounding downtown’s new 12-acre Discovery Green, Hess Tower activates the eastern portion of Houston’s Central Business District. The tower was designed to extend the pedestrian corridor from the park to the building and retail space in the lobby adds further pedestrian appeal. Once a former parking lot, the building now serves as the global exploration and operation headquarters for energy giant Hess Corporation. Hess Tower features additional convenience with valuable proximity to existing and future mass transit lines as well as premier restaurant, retail and entertainment venues.
  • Hess Tower was developed to support the recent and ongoing revitalization of downtown Houston and most specifically the unique urban Entertainment District. In collaboration with other public and private developments this once neglected area of downtown is now downtown Houston’s most dynamic district. With the addition of Hess Tower, the city’s core has now become a place to work, live, shop and enjoy time with family.


Hess Tower sets a new standard for office building design and construction with its use of innovative solutions and sustainable elements that help separate it from typical developments. To obtain the tower’s high quality interior layout and spatial configuration, Trammell Crow Company began the design process from the inside out. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has acknowledged Hess Tower through its Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR award with a Design Energy Performance rating of 99 out of 100. In addition, Hess Tower has achieved LEED Platinum Certification for Core & Shell from the United States Green Building Council.

Indoor air quality and daylighting initiatives include:

  • A highly efficient energy recovery unit, which utilizes the embodied energy in air leaving the building to pre-treat the incoming outdoor air;
  • Energy-saving features throughout the building interiors, including low-emitting materials specified for adhesive, paint, carpet and wood products, indoor chemical and pollutant control, increased thermal comfort and increased daylight and views;
  • Open views of the park and abundant natural light into the interiors; and
  • Maximizing the floor-to-ceiling glass and the tenants’ interior design allowed light to penetrate deep within the building.

Hess Tower is approximately 22 percent more energy efficient than a typical office building and features a number of sustainable features:

  • A highly efficient energy recovery unit;
  • High-efficiency centrifugal chillers for cooling;
  • Low-flow fixtures and a 40 percent more efficient plumbing system;
  • Reuse of air conditioning condensate for landscaping irrigation;
  • A “green” roof on the entry pavilion;
  • An energy efficient roof and insulation;
  • Open views of the park and abundant natural light; and
  • Open views of the park and abundant natural light into the interiors.