USGBC Tour and Training

Thu, 2011-12-08 08:49

Last week, Everblue offered LEED Green Associate training for the USGBC Facilities Management team and other candidates at the USGBC and GBCI headquarters. At the end of the first day, we joined the daily tour of the LEED Commercial Interior Platinum facility located on two floors of a renovated office building near Du Pont Circle, Washington DC. The location received a Walk Score of 97, an indication of its proximity to Metro stops, multiple bus lines, and community services.

Everblue students tour the USGBC headquartersWe were led by Ana Ka'ahanui, the manager of USGBC Headquarters Education, and toured with Nicole Jackson, the manager of Facilites and Administration for the USGBC and her team. Other designers joined in as the USGBC offered this tour for those looking to maintain their LEED credential. We walked through all the spaces and enjoyed the view from the roof on a beautiful fall day.

The aesthetics of the space are calming with pops of color using mid-century modern furnishings covered in wool, a rapidly renewable fabric. I learned a new word, "biophilia," which is the love of life or living systems, and found that the USGBC incorporates living plants, colors, shapes, and symbols throughout the design to reinforce this concept. A stairwell has been designed to encourage openess and transparency and features a wall of water that is recycled to remove particulate matter from the air and provide a soothing sound. A cool wall of materials displays all the products and indicates how product decision contributes to LEED points.

A dashboard is used to measure and display the energy and water consumption daily - the water savings alone are 46%. The energy saving features in the space are plentiful, from daylight harvesting to demand control ventilation. Sensors are used to determine when the power in a workstation should be activated, water is heated only when required through a coil in the faucet fixture, and a sophisticated blind system is controlled by an antennae located on the roof that tracks the movement of the sun. All of this adds up to a comfortable and efficient environment for the occupants. The daylight and views are present everywhere, and the space is "healthier" than their previous offices. Some USGBC employees commented that allergy symptoms have been reduced as a result of outstanding indoor air quality and the use of MERV 13 filters on the duct work.

One of the spaces that made a big impression on me was the kitchen/break room/lounge area. Not only was it relaxing and fun, but it also had an impressive system for collecting recyclables, composting waste, and reducing waste in the first place. The USGBC uses real coffee mugs and silverware and washes them in a high-efficiency dishwasher at day's end. They say their vendors use as little packaging as possible. It was so nice to spend two days with no plastic - how civilized!

USGBC LEED Platinum logoThere were walls of information silk screened on fabric made of recycled content, so as you toured the space, you continued to learn about the design. The LEED Platinum logo looks great mounted on reclaimed wooden boards from Tennessee. There are numerous examples of innovative products from manufacturers of ceiling, carpets, furnishings, lighting and ergonomic products. If you are in the commercial interiors market, I highly recommend taking this tour next time you are in our nation's capitol.

--Joan Mahon, LEED AP BD+C
Senior Instructor and Business Development

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