Corporate Sustainability: Kicking off LEED Certification of Our Newest Office
In January 2012, Thornton Tomasetti, the international engineering firm, acquired the Portland, Maine-based green consulting firm, Fore Solutions. The acquisition allowed Thornton Tomasetti to significantly expand its sustainability consulting services and integrate green objectives across all its practices. With the creation of its Green Building Strategy Team in 2007 and a sustainability department in 2010, Thornton Tomasetti started developing corporate sustainability programs and performing sustainability project work. In 2011, Thornton Tomasetti was the first structural engineering firm to join the AIA 2030 Commitment for carbon neutral buildings by 2030.
Thornton Tomasetti's corporate sustainability initiatives are now coordinated from the Portland, Maine office, and include greening the operations of the company's 26 offices and reducing the carbon footprint of our work in the A&E industry. One of Thornton Tomasetti's strategic initiatives for greening office operations is in getting new office fit-outs LEED CI certified; for existing offices, the corporation offers green office guidelines to assist the "Green Champions" in each office to save energy, reduce water use, minimize waste, consider green products, improve indoor air quality, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from commuting and work-related travel.
Thornton Tomasetti is currently in the process of relocating our Philadelphia office, which is managed by Mark Coggin. As part of the relocation, we are seeking LEED for Commercial Interiors (CI) for the fit-out, with Silver as the goal. If certification is achieved, this will be our second office to win LEED certification. The first LEED certified office is our Chicago office, which achieved LEED CI-Gold and was recently declared a winner in the City of Chicago's Green Office Challenge.
A series of blog posts, starting with this article, will chronicle our experience.
The first step in the process was to determine if LEED certification was feasible for the space. This required ensuring that we could meet the prerequisites for LEED CI certification and identifying the additional up-front costs of pursuing LEED. LEED costs typically include the consultants' fees - which in this case included fees for the LEED consultant, the interior architect, and the mechanical engineer - and the hard costs of any upgrades or improvements to the space that would be necessary to achieve LEED points.
Michael Pulaski from Thornton Tomasetti's Sustainability Practice examined the floor plan of the new office space in downtown Philadelphia and discussed plans for the space with the architects and Mark Coggin. He was able to quickly determine that the project would meet the prerequisites for LEED CI. Prerequisites are the requirements that the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) has determined are necessary for being able to meet LEED points satisfactorily. For example, one prerequisite for LEED CI is the storage and collection of recyclables. Another prerequisite is being able to meet a minimum energy performance of at least 10 percent lighting power density reduction from ASHRAE 90.1. Another is the control of tobacco smoke and meeting minimum indoor air quality performance requirements.
Green building consultants from our Portland office will be acting as the LEED consultants, and they will manage the process and the submittal of documentation to the GBCI for review and certification.
Thornton Tomasetti is a leader in engineering design, investigation and analysis serving clients worldwide on projects of all sizes and complexity. Thornton Tomasetti is an MBS Affiliate member.