NIBS Sustainable Buildings Industry Council Recognizes Beyond Green Award Winners

The National Institute of Building Sciences Sustainable Buildings Industry Council (SBIC) recognized the 2015 Beyond Green High-Performance Building and Community Awards winners at the Beyond Green Awards Luncheon, sponsored by the Illuminating Engineering Society and held during Building Innovation 2016: The National Institute of Building Sciences Fourth Annual Conference and Expo.

The Honor Award, the top prize in the High-Performance Buildings Category, went to the United Nations Headquarters in New York for its sustainable renovation project.

“This amazing, complex project set out to tackle multiple high-performance building attributes,” says Jim Whittaker, Beyond Green juror and president of Facilities Engineering Associates, during the jury’s deliberation. “In addition to addressing sustainability, the project naturally focused on historic preservation, safety and security, and accessibility. It certainly provides a glimpse into what is possible and, therefore, deserved an Honor Award.”

The United Nations Capital Master plan called for a complete renovation of the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. The renovation had three major goals: to serve as an example for sustainable renovation projects; preserve the historic nature of the facility; and bring the facility up to current building code levels. Originally built in 1950, the UN campus had aged and inefficient infrastructure; code compliance issues; and materials containing asbestos. The construction on the renovation began in 2008 and was completed in June 2015. At its height, this two billion dollar renovation project employed more than 650 contractors and design/construction professionals. The project achieved an overall Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification for the campus and LEED Platinum for the Secretariat tower. The campus is targeted to achieve 50 percent energy savings over existing energy use. Throughout the renovation, 50 percent of the campus remained occupied, requiring careful phasing of the new infrastructure.

“At the time it was built, it was a highly innovative building with the newest technologies. It hadn’t changed much in 50 years,” says Mike Thoresen, PE, from Syska Hennessy Group, a contractor on the project, during the luncheon. After the renovation, “It looks almost exactly the same. It was preserved, but upgraded.”

The 2015 Beyond Green Award Jury also recognized two recipients to receive Merit Awards.

The Award of Merit in Category A: High-Performance Buildings went to the Center for Sustainable Landscapes at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh, Pa.

“The utilization of an interdisciplinary design charrette to transform this environmentally degraded brownfield site into a highly visible demonstration of what is possible is impressive,”
says Keith Diaz-Moore, Beyond Green juror and dean of the College of Architecture and Planning at the University of Utah, during the review process. “The desire to capture and expand local design talent is commendable.”

The 24,350-square-foot Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL) at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens was conceived as a world-class building that provides a home for administrative and classroom functions and a tool to further the institution’s stated mission, “to advance sustainability and promote human and environmental well-being through action and research.” The result of a unique, facilitated integrated design process, the CSL generates all its own energy; captures and treats all water on-site; and is the first and only project to attain the planet’s highest sustainable building certifications: Living Building Challenge, LEED Platinum, 4 Star Sustainable SITES and WELL Platinum. The project transformed a dilapidated brownfield, once used as a fueling and supply station for the city of Pittsburgh’s Department of Public Works, into a 2.9-acre site hosting one of the world’s greenest buildings, a landscape of native plants and a slate of science education programs.

“The building opened in 2012,” says Jason Wirick, director of Facilities and Sustainability, during his presentation. “It’s now recognized as one of the greenest buildings in the world.”

The Award of Merit in Category C: High-Performance Initiatives went to the Efficient Homes Initiative of the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) and its utility partners.

“This multi-state effort focused on the expansion of energy-efficient homes provides a model for potential programs of this nature across the country,” says Mary Ann Lazarus, Beyond Green juror, and principal of MALeco. “While energy efficiency was the main goal, the initiative recognizes the linked benefits for health, water use and sustainability.”

Since 2012, NEEA and its utility partners sought to accelerate the market adoption of energy-efficient homes. Working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, NEEA established a program that provides builders in the Northwest with regional marketing, recruitment and training support, and gives verifiers and raters the tools they need to verify and certify energy-efficient homes. As part of the pilot program, an exclusive group of Northwest homes were designed to be more energy-efficient and then monitored for performance to identify the most cost-effective ways to achieve maximum energy savings in residential new construction. Since its inception, the home performance pilot has included more than 100 participating homes across Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. Once a pilot home is built and occupied, the program monitors it for 13 months to track its performance and ensure it meets desired efficiency goals. Pilot homes are at least 30 percent more energy-efficient than homes built to state-specific energy codes, with many exceeding that number. The monitoring provides a trove of data that will push future building energy codes in the Northwest.

We launched a high-performance pilot program,” says Neil Grigsby, senior program manager for the Efficient Homes Pilot Video Campaign, during his presentation to the audience. “Since the inception of this program we’ve brought on close to 150 projects, achieving a 30 percent above-code performance target.”

During the Beyond Green Awards Luncheon, each of the recipients gave slide presentations highlighting their award-winning topics. The winners will be featured as case studies on the WBDG Whole Building Design Guide. The Call for Entries for the 2016 Beyond Green High-Performance Building and Community Awards will be available in the spring of 2016.

Visit the WBDG Whole Building Design Guide to peruse case studies of Beyond Green winners from previous years.

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