Commercial Real Estate Conglomerate Earns LEED Gold for Office Building

July 26, 2011 / William Thomson, Green Homes Expert

The US Green Building Council has awarded Spitzer Enterprises and its managing agent, Cushman & Wakefield, Inc., a global commercial real estate brokerage and management firm, which aligned with CQI Associates, LLC, a Maryland-based energy and environmental management consulting firm, LEED Gold certification

Commercial Real Estate Conglomerate Earns LEED Gold for Office Building

The award was established by the USGBC for 2001 K Street, NW in Washington, DC, a 356,820-square-foot, 11-story office building located on the northwest corner of 20th and K Streets – just blocks from the White House and George Washington University.

On Thursday, the management team and tenants received the certification presentation by the USGBC.

The award comes after USGBC awarded its highest certification (Platinum rating) to engineering and architectural firm HKS for its 12,500-square-foot office space in Northville, Michigan.

“Cushman & Wakefield has been a long-time advocate for high-performing, green buildings, and has once again demonstrated its commitment to transforming its building portfolio,” said Jeff Kuziemko, manager of LEED Operations, USGBC, who presented the LEED plaque.

“Greening our existing buildings helps save money and energy, creates healthier places to live, work and learn – all while addressing our single greatest opportunity to help solve the climate change equation.”

“Obtaining a LEED certification is no small feat. In the DC area, the nation’s top green building market, many are striving for this achievement,” the USGBC said in a statement.

The green council noted that in DC alone, there are roughly 200 LEED certified projects.

“Accounting for 39% of the certified square footage of LEED projects across the world, existing buildings are outpacing the number of LEED-certified new construction projects on a square foot basis, signaling a market transformation,” it added.

LEED for Existing Buildings, Operations & Maintenance rewards current best practices toward sustainability and provides guidance for buildings to “use less energy, water and natural resources, improve the indoor environments, and uncover operating inefficiencies.”

2001 K Street, NW is  first opened in 2000.

“The building is in exceptional condition and includes a retail branch of Eagle Bank on the first floor; with floors two through eleven occupied by other world-class and globally renowned businesses such as the law offices of Clifford Chance LLP; Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP; McGuireWoods, LLP; and Cushman & Wakefield’s DC offices,” according to the green council.

CQI Associates Principal, Richard Anderson said: “Based on a study of ten LEED certified projects we have completed, we learned that the average building costs are now 18% lower than they originally were and the initial investments are paying back in two and a half years. The buildings are much better for the tenants, people are healthier and the sick leave rate has dropped 33%.”

“LEED certification of an existing building requires owner, management, staff and tenant commitment to the changes to meet sustainable and lasting green building criteria. A limited number of existing buildings have sought this certification and those who achieve it fall into a very unique group.”

Long before the actual LEED certification process began, the facility staff at the office building began to embrace green operations. In 2008, the management team installed motion sensors for the garage lighting and later introduced a recycling program where tenants recycle mixed paper, plastics, bottles and cans.

“The tenants have really embraced working in a green environment. Interior modifications have been completed to meet LEED requirements, whether the tenant pursues certification or not,” said Timeeca Mitchell, property manager at Cushman & Wakefield.

“We are thrilled with the response to the recycling program and have 100% participation from tenants on all floors. Everyone has really come together to be better global citizens and improve the efficiency of our working environment.”

Cost and Consumption Reduction

CQI Associates completed an initial energy assessment of the building in the summer of 2009, then provided a
list of recommendations for improving energy efficiency and working toward the LEED Gold certification.

With the cooperation of the commercial real estate firm, CQI Associates worked on implementing the recommendations and completing the certification process. The initial investment in the project’s green and sustainable technologies, strategies, and design generated an estimated savings of more than $51,000 in the first year.

With an ENERGY STAR rating of 79, the office building is 58 percent more energy efficient and annually saves $1.03 per square foot in energy costs compared to an average U.S. office building.

Senior Chief Engineer Don Bauman said: “Every month when we receive the energy bill, we are excited to see the payback on our investment continue. At the current rate, we expect to reach a full payback in less than two years. It is very impressive, as with most significant projects in other areas of business, it may be hard to measure the return on investment. Our overall energy savings since 2009 is down about 25%, which equates to thousands of dollars in savings every month for each of our tenants.”

Working toward greater water conservation, dual flush toilets were installed in all of the women’s restrooms and .5 gpf (low flow) urinals in the men’s restrooms, as well as low flow aerators on the restroom faucets, thus reducing the overall water usage by 30,000 gallons per month.

Another green feature of the office building to achieve greater energy efficiency was the HVAC system. As part of the project implementation, variable frequency drives (VFDs) were installed on the Air Handling Units, cooling tower fans, and most recently on the condenser pump.

Beyond improvements to the HVAC system, occupancy sensors were added in the restrooms and office spaces to save electricity when restrooms and offices are not in use. The building lighting also utilizes high efficiency low mercury T-8 fluorescent bulbs.

In addition to the physical upgrades, the building management team has taken great care to ensure that outside contractors performing facility alterations correctly follow green purchasing, waste management and indoor air quality LEED requirements in the execution of new projects.

The management team checks the building equipment two or three times daily and promptly responds to occupant concerns using a detailed work order system.

“At Cushman & Wakefield, we are responsible to build, design and develop office buildings that are more than just pretty buildings. We need to build buildings that are good for the environment, that don’t harm us and that are energy efficient,” stated William Magner, executive managing director at Cushman & Wakefield.

Deborah Santano, senior portfolio manager of the commercial real estate firm, noted that in 2009 “Cushman & Wakefield was the first company to sign a memorandum of understanding with the EPA that called out the benchmarking of green practices that we have implemented.”

At the same time, Cushman & Wakefield was the only commercial real estate firm to complete the USGBC’s pilot program where it brought on 18 properties that were LEED certified across the US.

“Today we have over 100 LEED accredited individuals on staff and have more than 44 million square feet of property that is LEED certified,” added Santano.

Cushman & Wakefield operates nearly 100 owned and alliance offices in the United States with access to more than 15,000 employees globally, with a history of commercial real estate leadership reaching 90 years.

CQI Associates, LLC, on the other hand, is a key player in energy and environmental consulting. The firm offers services that allow clients to increase profitability by minimizing operating costs. From small businesses to national accounts such as Northrop Grumman, Fuji, and AutoNation, CQI Associates provides custom-tailored services to suit each company’s unique needs.

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