Office Renovation For Architecture Firm Achieves LEED Platinum
-From Building Operating Management - September 2012
When architecture and design firm Perkins+Will decided to consolidate its two Atlanta offices to 1315 Peachtree Street in the heart of Midtown Atlanta, general contractor Brasfield & Gorrie was selected to renovate the property, a circa 1985 building that had once been the home of an investment firm. Because Perkins+Will’s commitment to environmental responsibility was the guiding principal in the renovation, sustainable design and construction were paramount.
The $11.5 million renovation began with the demolition of all existing finishes, removal of 2,000 square feet of post-tensioned concrete, and recladding of the exterior glass curtain wall. This was followed by the erection of a modern steel structure on the front of the building, removal and replacement of all mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) systems, and a complete build-out of the interior.
Of the many challenges inherent in the project, one of the most significant was keeping the Fulton County Library, a long-standing first-floor tenant, operable and safe throughout the process. Removing and replacing the exterior skin while keeping a tenant operational was a phasing and scheduling challenge that Brasfield & Gorrie overcame by constructing temporary waterproof exterior partitions to protect the interior space from the elements.
Most of the project’s challenges were associated with achieving the client’s goals of attaining LEED Platinum certification, conserving water, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and avoiding products containing hazardous substances. To address these goals, Brasfield & Gorrie’s project team worked with Perkins+Will to establish an ambitious sustainable construction plan. This plan centered on retaining as much of the structure as possible; reusing, recycling, or repurposing construction waste; and installing new, environmentally responsible exterior and MEP systems to maximize water and energy conservation.
Early in the demolition phase, Brasfield & Gorrie and Perkins+Will collaborated to find recipients for the carpet, furniture, and other materials that were being removed from the building. Not only were many of these items diverted from the landfill, but they were also put to good use by a variety of local nonprofit organizations. In addition, at least 50 percent of the materials used by the project team to build its on-site construction office were salvaged from the existing building. When the project was completed, those materials were removed and used again on a different project. Ultimately, Brasfield & Gorrie diverted 80 percent of all construction waste on the 1315 Peachtree project.
Brasfield & Gorrie installed several unique systems on the project. To reduce the energy consumption typical of building MEP systems, Perkins+Will invested in one of the most cutting-edge building management systems in the country. In only the second such application in the U.S. and the first in the Southeast, Brasfield & Gorrie installed ceiling-mounted BEKA radiant heating/cooling mats to regulate the indoor temperature. To create true green power for the building, Brasfield & Gorrie installed a complex MEP central plant. The plant includes an adsorption chiller, a high-performance air handler/energy recovery unit, an electric chiller, and two microturbines. Powered by natural gas, the microturbines generate on-site electricity, providing power to the building. They also generate heat as a by-product, which is used to produce hot water for the building. These systems are highly efficient, require less maintenance, and reduce the overall carbon footprint of the building by 68 percent. The building’s energy consumption was reduced by 58 percent.
A rainwater collection system was installed to conserve water. This system collects rainwater, stores it in a 10,000-gallon underground cistern, filters the water, and then pumps it back through the building for reuse. Rainwater collection provides enough water for irrigation and use by low-flush plumbing fixtures, lowering the overall consumption of municipal water by 78 percent.
To optimize use of the new exterior terrace on the fifth floor and regulate afternoon sunlight and heat gain, Brasfield & Gorrie installed exterior motorized shades controlled by a solar sensor on the roof. The solar sensor directs the shades to raise or lower based on the direction of the sun. These shades allow Perkins+Will to use the elevated exterior space for a variety of functions while enjoying wonderful views of the Midtown skyline without being disturbed by direct sunlight.
Communication was crucial throughout this project. The ambitious sustainability plan and the complex nature of the building’s systems required substantial coordination between the construction team, Perkins+Will as the owner and architect, and engineer Kimley-Horn and Associates. As part of a detailed plan to facilitate that communication, Brasfield & Gorrie’s superintendents and project managers worked on site for the duration of the project. Also contributing to a greater level of communication was the proximity of one of Perkins+Will’s existing offices. With their office located only a block away, many Perkins+Will employees watched the project’s progress intently, allowing for increased collaboration between the two teams. Frequent meetings—often daily—and the constant exchange of ideas contributed to the project’s high level of success.
The renovation of 1315 Peachtree achieved LEED Platinum certification with 95 LEED points, making it the highest-scoring LEED-certified new construction project in the Northern Hemisphere at the time of its certification.