More and more
companies are identifying environmental stewardship with an improved bottom
line, and this starts with the design of their facilities. A sustainable
design approach can provide a long-term green solution that guarantees
the best environment for a companys corporate culture, while taking
a responsible approach to its surroundings. In fact, this design approach
positively affects the culture and, in turn, the performance of a companys
In developing these long-term solutions, owners and facility managers
can consider the following lessons learned surrounding four key considerations
to sustainability: site, water and energy conservation, materials and
indoor air quality.
* Sustainable Site
The headquarters for Butler Manufacturing Co., a leading producer of metal
buildings, window systems and roofing systems, is an example of how a
green building can be sensitive to its specific environment. The challenge
facing the design team for Butlers 154,000-square-foot, two-story
new world headquarters was to develop a modern office building on a brownfield
site. The vacant site, known as The Yards, was situated in
Kansas Citys West Bottoms area near the Kansas River, a location
that was formerly home to the cattle yards where trains were loaded and
unloaded, in a city where fortunes were built on the thriving livestock
industry. Butler Manufacturings leadership charged the project team
with designing the building within the urban core, where access to public
transportation, the history of the area and the community at large would
stimulate ongoing redevelopment in this once-vibrant part of the city.
The approach of the design team was site remediation, clean-up and specific
erosion-control efforts on the Butler site, including extensive storm-water
management, which exceeded the requirements of the Missouri Department
of Natural Resources. The site restoration provided an opportunity to
both eliminate erosion of the contaminated soil into the Kansas River
and to use native plants, accustomed to the regions climate and
able to survive the wide climate changes Kansas City experiences throughout
The Butler world headquarters also needed to be a showcase for its wide
range of products. To properly display these products, lighting the building
was an important factor. For example, using Butlers skywall translucent
panels as wall systems was a unique solution that created a profound design
element. Dramatic energy savings were realized through generous skylights
and a clerestory, which reduced the numbers of light fixtures needed.
On most days, the buildings community center atrium
requires no additional lighting due to the amount of natural daylight
that enters the space.
Throughout the building, occupancy sensors shut off lights when spaces
are unoccupied. The unique use of Butlers own product covering the
walkway from the buildings garage to the entrance screens the west
side first-floor windows from intense summer sunlight. Low-E glass to
the east, south and west façades protect the building from solar
heat gain in the summer. These elements, along with a raised-access floor
ventilation system and the reduced number of lights due to daylighting,
allowed a significant reduction in the size of mechanical AC units, realizing
dramatic energy savings and a significant decrease in upfront costs.
* Water and Energy Conservation
CDFM2 Architecture used its 4,000-square-foot rooftop deck as an opportunity
for its own green roof project. An oasis of plants and water, the deck
appears like a mirage amid the black asphalt roofs of downtown Kansas
City. The plant material uses the suns energy to thrive, thus reducing
the amount of radiation put back into the atmosphere, a process known
as the urban heat-island effect. Rainspouts act as collectors for rainwater
to water plants, significantly reducing water consumption in the maintenance
of the rooftop garden. The thermal mass of the soil actually provides
insulation to the occupied office space below. The rooftop greenery saves
green for the bottom line. A silvery canister turns out to be a
mini-pond, full of fish and aquatic plants. Garden lunches and client
meetings become an opportunity to demonstrate green issues and technologies
to CDFM2s clients.
* Materials and Resources
When the Kansas City firm Midland Loan decided to move to its new headquarters,
materials concerns guided the project teams analysis, evaluation
and review of a variety of real-estate opportunities for its headquarters
relocation. Midland Loans parent company, Pittsburgh, PA-based PNC
Financial Services Group Inc., has become known for its commitment to
sustainable building, and has developed two LEED Green Building-rated
buildings. For Midland Loan, the same commitment led the team to lease
120,000 square feet of space in an existing office building, thereby significantly
reducing the amount of construction materials and infrastructure costs.
The existing building in Corporate Woods is a verdant, tree-filled office
park with extensive walking and biking trails in Overland Park, KS. Midland
Loan provided bike racks and showering facilities for employees who want
to bike commute or utilize the 900-acre wooded park and trails at lunch.
Due to Midland Loan Services commitment to sustainable design, green
materials are evident throughout the building: low-VOC paints, 100-percent
recyclable carpet tile, domestic and recycled wood products, local and
regional materials, rapidly renewable flooring and recycled content fabrics.
The project team worked to restrict the materials to regional sources
from within 500 miles of Kansas City, whose central location allowed easy
access to sources in Denver, Dallas, Chicago, Minneapolis and other major
cities. Many of the materials emphasize rapidly renewable resources, such
as bamboo flooring. Natural light is maximized to the core through the
clustering of perimeter offices and the use of clerestory windows. The
headquarters design has positively affected its corporate culture
through reducing its impact on the environment and providing the employees
with amenities they see as a benefit to productivity.
* Indoor Air Quality
The new Hall Center for the Humanities at the University of Kansas in
Lawrence, slated for completion in 2004, is designed with special attention
to the quality of the indoor environment. The building program includes
conference, gathering and meeting spaces, as well as offices for the executive
director, research fellows and distinguished chairs.
The Hall Center will incorporate the graceful stone arches of the façade
of the Old Powerhouse, the oldest standing building on the KU campus,
originally constructed in 1887 and influenced by Spanish Romanesque architecture.
The historic setting for the Hall Center will preserve a valued piece
of history of the campus and significantly enhance the fabric of the university
as an important entrance to the campus.
Indoor air quality at the Hall Center will benefit from personal controls
by occupants as well as measures taken to enhance air circulation and
monitor air quality. Every occupied spaceoffices, conference rooms
and other gathering placeshas an operable window to allow fresh-air
exchange. Additional measures were taken to keep the air clean and flowing
inside the building. Smoking is strictly prohibited indoors. No chlorofluorocarbons
(CFCs) are used in the refrigerant components. A CO2 monitoring system
alerts the HVAC system to flush contaminants and replenish fresh air regularly,
assuring adequate ventilation for occupants and supporting their health,
safety and comfort. The use of these technologies has become common in
new and renovation projects, pointing to the importance and acceptance
of building owners and operators to provide a healthy working environment.
Educating the Community
Companies satisfied with their green buildings extend their new findings
to their peers in the community. In many cases, the finished product and
culture created far exceeds their early perception of the process and
the building. And a buildings occupants, who understand and appreciate
the values embodied in their facility, also help spread the sustainability
We wanted this investment to change our cultureand it did,
while also significantly increasing productivity, comments John
Holland, CEO of Butler Manufacturing Co.
In addition to designing buildings according to sustainability principles,
green design firms can play a committed civic role as well. In Kansas
City, firm principals work with developers and the citys planning
and zoning commission on plans to further revitalize the citys downtown,
participating in downtown and community committees, in civic organizations,
and with non-profit environmental groups. Civic involvement extends the
influence of holistic, responsible and sustainable design to the city
and the region, marketing green design well beyond the building.
Chris DeVolder, AIA, is a LEED Accredited Professional and an associate
with CDFM2 Architecture Inc.