LEED certification for existing buildings continues in large and small cities across the country and skyscrapers in New York City are among them. The 2.5 million square foot McGraw-Hill Building at 1221 Avenue of the Americas achieved LEED EB certification in July 2009.
The Rockefeller Group worked with CodeGreen Solutions, a sustainable building consultant firm based in New York City, to develop a LEED action plan and manage the project team. CodeGreen monitored compliance of the building’s operation and maintenance policies and practices, as well as upgrades to the facility’s standard operating procedures (SOPs), credit narratives, credit documentation and template completion.
To maximize the building’s water efficiency, an extensive audit of the building’s plumbing fixtures was done. The various fixture flow-rates and quantities were given to CodeGreen to perform the calculations. To satisfy the LEED prerequisite, the potable water use had to be reduced to a level equal to or below the water use baseline, calculated as 120 percent of the water usage that would result if 100 percent of the total building fixture count were outfitted with fixtures that meet the Energy Policy Act of 1992 fixture performance requirements.
Energy and Atmosphere
The Rockefeller Group achieved and maintained an Energy Star score of 68 and commenced existing building commissioning to verify that the fundamental building elements and systems were installed and calibrated as designed, and are operating efficiently. Furthermore, Rockefeller operates heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC&R) systems using zero CFC, HCFC and/or Halon refrigerants. Building operation and maintenance staff are provided a minimum of 24 hours of education and training annually, and have also instituted a comprehensive, routine Best Practices Equipment Preventative Maintenance Program. The building’s operation, comparing costs during the LEED performance period to operation prior to pursuing LEED certification, was also documented.
Materials and Resources
To minimize the building’s environmental impact, as well as comply with city, state and federal laws, waste management and recycling practices were maintained through service with Pritchard Industries and IESI. Standard operating procedures (SOPs) regarding construction, demolition and operation practices, requiring the purchase of reduced- mercury-content lamps and bulbs, construction waste management, and the use of environmentally compliant architectural finishes, materials and products were also upgraded. Additionally, the building provides battery and electronic waste recycling, contributing to improved source reduction and landfill diversion efforts.
Outdoor Environmental Quality
Extensive testing of the building’s outside air ventilation distribution and exhaust system(s) were conducted. LEED requires that buildings modify and/or maintain minimum ventilation rates mandated by ASHRAE Standard 62.1-2004. In compliance with city and state requirement, the building also prohibits smoking in the building and maintains designated exterior smoking areas at least 25 feet away from building entries, outdoor air intakes and/or operable windows.
Indoor Environmental Quality
The building’s HVAC&R systems provide air temperature, radiation exchange, air velocity and humidity, based on occupant clothing and activity, compliant to ASHRAE Standard 55-2004. The building management system (BMS) provides a permanent monitoring system to ensure proper thermal environments. Indoor air quality (IAQ) audits are performed routinely to ensure occupant comfort. The building’s low-environmental impact cleaning policy, involving Pritchard Industries and Assured Environments, includes entryway mats, isolated janitor closets and pest management, providing a high standard environment that protects human health and maintains a high-performance indoor environment. Indoor air quality was improved using high-efficiency HEPA filtration media installed at interior supply fans, reducing particulates in the air system. Also, the various tenant layouts provide a high level of individual and multi-occupant space lighting control.
Operation and Maintenance
CodeGreen performed calculations verifying the building’s exemplary performance, achieving additional credit for the building’s development density, proximity to mass transportation and occupant recycling rates. Additionally, as part of the building’s preventative maintenance measures, The Rockefeller Group maintains a cooling tower water management policy which increases water efficiency and controls biological growth.
When asked about the company’s greatest project challenge, Jamie Haviaris, vice president of operations, noted "It’s very important for tenants to be involved deeply and early in the process. Also, you have to fully believe in the process. There is a big difference between the time you think it will take and what it actually takes. Another significant challenge going forward is maintaining the certification – reminding our staff and tenants about sustainability every day and keeping them excited and motivated."
About 1221 Avenue of the Americas
Partner Companies: Code Green Solutions, AKF Engineering, Schneider Electric (formerly TAC), Pritchard Industries, Knight Electric, IESI Waste Management
Building Size: 2.5 million square feet
Number of Floors: 50
HVAC: Induction System—perimeter zones
Induction System—perimeter zones
Variable Air Volume—interior zones
Structure: Steel framed with cellular steel flooring and composite concrete deck
Energy Facts: 12,000 tons of CO2 saved annually
- 170,954 gallons of water saved annually
- 65 percent of waste diverted from landfills
- 65 percent daylight and views provided for regularly-occupied spaces
- Zero use of ozone-depleting CFCS, HCFCS, and Halons within HVAC&R systems in the building