Business & Buildings: The Sustainability Link

March 2005 Volume III Number 1

Net Contents
I. Network Presentation
Key Learnings
Perspectives

II. What’s New

III. The Women’s Network for a Sustainable Future
The Concept of the Network

I. Network Presentation
The Women’s Network for a Sustainable (WNSF) future held its first peer learning panel of 2005, Business & Buildings: The Sustainability Link, hosted by Interface, Inc., at the Architecture Center in New York City on February 8. The lunchtime presentation featured three leaders in sustainable building design, reinforcing the case for linking high quality, environmentally sound construction and cutting-edge design with good business practices. Joyce LaValle, Senior Vice President of Interface and Chairman of WNSF’s Board of Directors, moderated the lively panel discussion.

Key Findings

  • Traditional building practices often compromise environmental quality, human productivity and health.
  • Green building principles can help business cut costs and improve employee productivity, boosting bottom-line results
  • LEED principles can help guide businesses on state-of-the-art sustainable building strategies
  • Green building strategies provide an array of financial incentives for both developers and owners, producing concrete business benefits
  • There are likely to be increasingly high costs associated with not incorporating green building principles
  • Responsibility to all parties goes a long way toward bolstering cooperation.

Perspectives

Moderator: Joyce LaValle, Interface Inc. Senior Vice President and Chairman of WNSF’s Board of Directors.

Speakers:

  • Hillary Borwn, Principal, New Civic Works
  • Tom Scarola, Director of Engineering, Domestic Development for Tishman Speyer Properties
  • Bob Fox, Principle, Cook+Fox Architects

Hillary Brown, Principal of the sustainable design consulting group New Civic Works and lecturer in Sustainable Design at Columbia and Princeton University School of Architecture, began her presentation highlighting how conventionally-designed buildings—whether for commercial or residential purposes—can waste natural resources (water, materials, energy) as well as human resources. And she pointed out how these traditional building practices in turn can compromise environmental quality, along with human productivity and health.

Green buildings, Brown noted, embody a thoughtful set of alternatives, minimizing use of natural resources and maximizing health, well being and quality of life. Brown pointed to a set of High Performance Principles, or design solutions developed from ‘place-based’ thinking. These principles include:

  • Moving toward climate-neutral energy solutions that more intentionally harness the power of the local microclimate and natural resources.
  • Encouraging constructed systems to mimic the natural counterparts they replace – for instance, taking advantage of building surface areas to capture rain run-off for re-use.
  • Stressing health and well-being through connection with nature.

Brown also discussed the role of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System or LEED®, a national building rating system formulated by members of the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED standards continue to evolve, as designers and builders collaborate with the scientific community and learn more about sustainable design and construction, but LEED’s central goals are to:

  • Define “green building” by establishing a common standard of measurements
  • Promote integrated, whole-building design practices
  • Recognize environmental leadership in the building industry
  • Stimulate green competition in the building field
  • Raise consumer awareness of green building benefits
  • Transform the building market

LEED emphasizes state-of-the-art strategies for sustainable site development, natural resource use efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. LEED both recognizes achievements and promotes expertise in green building through a comprehensive system offering project certification, professional accreditation, training and practical tools for architects and designers.

Tom Scarola, Director of Engineering, Domestic Development for Tishman Speyer Properties (TSP) illustrated the potential of LEED standards to mainstream the application of green building principles in several current projects.

Scarola highlighted some of Tishman Speyer Properties’ (TSP) efforts to integrate green building solutions into New York City projects, potentially raising demand for environmentally friendly building materials and helping to make green solutions interpretable by smaller developers. Scarola mentioned TSP’s work on parts of Battery Park City designs, the Hearst Building and Goldman Sachs’ new headquarters.

Scarola noted that the environmental benefits of adopting green building strategies come with incentives for developers and owners, including:

  • Minimal increased capital costs for green and sustainable design
  • Minimized operating and maintenance costs associated with inefficient building
  • Green building tax credits
  • Minimized utility costs
  • Increased marketability for building occupants
  • Indoor environmental air quality
  • Increased worker productivity
  • Reduced absenteeism

Green building strategies, Scarola concluded, also contribute to the overall sustainability of the communities surrounding them, partly by reducing impact on local infrastructure.

Bob Fox of Cook+Fox Architects provided a dynamic presentation of the firm’s design project at OneBryant Park, New York headquarters for Bank of America, developed in partnership with the Durst Organization, the developer. Located at the corner of 42nd Street and Sixth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, the 2.2 million-square-foot skyscraper’s design aims to interact thoughtfully with the site’s past glory and present bustle, recalling the splendor of the glass and steel Crystal Palace built there in 1853. The new building is New York City’s first skyscraper designed to comply with platinum LEED certification, suggesting careful attention to the city’s probable future. For Fox, the building’s design is a direct response to disproportionate consumption habits in the US, whose population of less than five percent of the world’s total consumes over a quarter of its resources. Fox believes Americans must begin to change their living habits, using resources more wisely. Said Fox: “It’s not what it costs to do these buildings, but what it costs not to do them.”

Fox listed the building’s impressive green features—from high-performance glazed floor-to-ceiling windows that capture maximum amounts of sunlight, to “floating” floors that facilitate more efficient heating and cooling, and sophisticated storm water capture and water recycling system. He also detailed the building’s impressive co-generation energy system that will supply 70 percent of the building’s energy annually, reducing demand on the city’s already strapped and relatively inefficient electricity transmission network. Finally, Fox described the building’s air filtration system, designed to emit air much cleaner than what it takes in.

II. What’s New
WNSF will hold its next luncheon panel on April 6 at Colgate-Palmolive Headquarters at Park Avenue and 54th Street in Manhattan. The panel, Corporate Culture Meets Sustainability: Getting the Right Blend, Business & Buildings: The Sustainability Link, will feature speakers from Colgate, H&M and Starbucks. Seating is limited. To reserve a space, RSVP at http://www.wnsf.org/events. Cost is $30, payable in advance by credit card or cash only at the door.

III. The Women’s Network for a Sustainable Future
The Concept of the Network

The Network provides a forum for business and professional women to congregate, reflect, and act on the converging issues of corporate social responsibility and sustainable development. Through meetings and simple electronic support tools, the Network aims to facilitate the exchange of experiences and best practices on these vital workplace issues. By creating a new network of executive women, the Network seeks to improve responsible practices in workplaces; sensitize corporate culture more generally to issues of sustainability and social responsibility; and encourage a public commitment locally, nationally, and internationally to sustainability principles.

The Women’s Network for a Sustainable Future is a 501c3 organization, and donations are tax-deductible.

For more information please contact:

Ann Goodman, Acting Executive Director
Women’s Network for a Sustainable Future
Please direct inquiries to: mailto:info@wnsf.org

Board of Directors:

CHAIR: Joyce LaValle, Senior Vice President, Interface Inc.; Muni Figueres, formerly of the Costa Rican Foundation for Sustainable Development; Joanne Fox-Przeworski, Director, Bard Center for Environmental Policy, Bard College; Ann Goodman, Acting Executive Director, WNSF; Sarah Howell, Director, Corporate Communications, BP; Michele Kahane, Special Projects Director, Corporate Citizenship Program, Boston College; Clair Krizov, Executive Director of Environmental and Social Responsibility, AT&T; Kathy Robb, Esq., Partner and Head of Environmental Practice, Hunton & Williams; Deborah Sliter, Acting President, National Environmental Education & Training Foundation.

This issue of Net Notes was written by Jen Petersen and edited by Ann Goodman. WNSF thanks founding sponsors AT&T and the Ford Foundation for their generous support.

“Plans to protect air and water, wilderness and wildlife are in fact plans to protect man.” -Stewart L. Udall

“Forget the damned motor car and build the cities for lovers and friends.” -Lewis Mumford

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