Behind the Green Door
Perkins + Will proves its commitment to green standards in its new Union Square office.
Mark McMenamin -- Interior Design, 10/17/2007 12:00:00 AM
It starts with a New York location less than a block from the convergence of eight subway lines, promoting the use of public transit. It ends with occupancy sensors, which eliminate unnecessary lighting. Perkins + Will's new office is chockablock with LEED points in-the-making. Proving that what's good for the client is good for the firm, this Interior Design Giant followed its own eco manifesto, the Green Operations Plan, in renovating an entire 16,500-square-foot floor in a 1914 building. "We're expecting definite Silver," marketing manager Abigail Carlen says. "If not Gold."
In order to capitalize on natural sunlight and enhance each associate's visual connection to the entire space, Perkins + Will drafted an open plan that walks a fine line between privacy and visibility. The six-foot by seven-foot workstations are from Haworth's compose system, made with more than 43 percent recycled content, consisting of fixed spines and mobile case goods that can be easily reconfigured as the firm's space needs evolve. Perkins + Will also retained 35 percent of the furniture from its previous office, and reused the majority of the new office's existing floor, ceiling and columns to keep construction to a minimum. Appliances and equipment are virtually all Energy Star-rated, and separate recycling bins are standard for all workstations.
But as with many LEED-aspiring environments, it takes a look beneath the surface to uncover the most compelling ecological stories. Existing plumbing was replaced, and the new components—dual-flush toilets, waterless urinals, self-powered sensor faucets—result in 45 percent water savings over the previous system. Construction materials consisted of Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood and other sustainable, rapidly renewable materials such as bamboo, along with low-VOC adhesives, sealants, coatings and paint. The office's comprehensive recycling program for paper, plastic, aluminum and glass got somewhat of a trial run during construction, when 75 percent of waste was diverted from landfills. The zero-CFC HVAC unit comes with economizer and night/weekend setback modes, while the floor itself is divided into HVAC zones that take into account usage and solar exposure.
But few should be surprised that Perkins + Will would raise the environmental bar so high in its six-month-old New York office. While the firm insists that all of its renovations or new construction receive a minimum LEED Silver rating, it also tends its own greenery by purchasing 100 percent renewable wind energy for each of its 19 offices. Company wide, Perkins + Will currently boasts more than 750 LEED-accredited professionals.