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Avon, Gates Foundation and 'Cereal Partners' show LEED some love

Latest Gold and Platinum certifications illustrate that the pace of green design is accelerating, despite the sluggish economy.
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Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor on

It figures that right after I pull together a list of high-profile projects under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building program, there would be a flurry of new completions that are worth bringing to everyone's attention. I'm sure that right after I push "publish" on this post, it will happen again! Meanwhile, here are some developments that are worth your attention.

Avon Adopts 'Green Building Promise'
A couple of weeks ago, I spoke with two of the managers at Avon Products who are responsible for delivering on the company's intention to ensure that all of its new facilities are green and have at least a LEED certification: Louise Matthews, vice president of global real estate, and Susan Heaney, director of corporate responsibility.

First off, I want to note that by "new," Avon means both new construction and retrofits, which are two very different animals to manage when it comes to green aspirations. It is also why the company's new headquarters is Gold rather than Platinum. Certain green construction requirements were built into the the lease for the 11 floors on New York's Third Avenue that now house Avon's corporate headquarters. In fact, the Avon executives said this is now a consideration whenever a lease comes up for renewal or negotiation: with the owners allow of green retrofits or does Avon need to move to a facility that is more environmentally friendly. That is a pretty big deal, when you consider that Avon manages about 20 million square feet of facilities and office space around the world.

While the space was delivered "raw" so that Avon could work toward the Gold Commercial Interior certification, the realities of the building's base-level management system held it back from Platinum, Matthews said.

(Photo courtesy of Avon Products)

But that's not to downplay what Avon has achieved in New York. The building scored points for the following, on its way to Gold:

  • Extensive access to public transportation, limited on-site parking
  • Water efficiency measures, that made the interior 35 percent more efficient that then baseline
  • Lighting efficiency technology
  • Energy Star appliances
  • Recycled glass and aluminum content
  • Low-VOC paint and mold-tough sheetrock
  • Green Power purchase
  • More than 96 percent of the "seated spaces" have access to daylight

What's more, the building retrofit was managed by a trade crew that was made up of 17 percent women. If you know New York and the construction trade, that is a really high percentage.

Avon HAS earned Platinum recognition for its research and development center in Shanghai, China. Among the special features that got it there were energy-efficient lighting that works on motion and daylight harvesting sensors; high-efficiency water fixtures that help cut water usage by up to 44 percent; specially zoned climate control (HVAC) systems; and two years worth of green power purchases.

Platinum for Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Microsoft founder and chairman Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda, made a Platinum LEED certification a mission for their foundation's new headquarters campus in Seattle. That campus (pictured below) replaced an asphalt parking lot that was across the street from the city's famous Space Needle.

(Photo courtesy of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation & NBB/Studio 216)

The project designers actually weren't really aiming for Platinum when the design started; they had Silver in mind. Highlights include two acres of living roofs; a one-million-gallon rainwater storage tank and plumbing fixtures that reduced the campus' water usage by almost 80 percent compared with similar sites; solar panels that provide the energy to heat more than one-third of the building's hot water; and a chiller system that uses water cooled at night to conserve energy usage. (This graphic details all the systems that went into the Platinum designation.)

Said Cormac Deavy, project director and design team leader for Arup, one of the companies involved int he project:

"Perhaps most satisfying is that this sustainability achievement was the result of an integrated design process, not a race to acquire points. The mechanical systems were selected for their return on investment, operations and maintenance considerations, future flexibility, and their ability to improve the indoor environmental quality for the staff."

Joint venture scores first Platinum LEED certification in Switzerland
Cereal Partners Worldwide, a 21-year-old joint venture created by Nestle and General Mills, said that its Innovation Centre in Orbe, Switzerland, has become the first industrial building in Switzerland to earn the Platinum-level rating. The facility is responsible for product innovation, technology, packaging and other research and development related to nutritional issues.

(Photo by Pierre Boss; courtesy of Cereal Partners)

The building is 110,000 square feet in size. It includes energy-efficiency technologies designed to reduce energy consumption by more than 30 percent and the systems use natural features, such as steam heat from coffee grounds and alpine snow melt, to help with building climate control. All of the water used for irrigation and sanitary purposes is from 50,000 gallons of rain water collected annually. Natural lighting is used throughout the facility wherever possible.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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