Green Turns To Gold LEED

May 9, 2003
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ZEELAND — Green not only turned out to be lean for this commercial office project, the lean green also turned into gold.

When the Herman Miller MarketPlace opened here two Decembers ago, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) gave the 95,000-square-foot structure its highest Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) award by figuratively hanging a large gold medal on its attractive and cost-efficient exterior.

A Gold LEED for MarketPlace makes it the first new-construction project in West Michigan to be so honored under the more stringent USGBC guidelines.

The distinction defines the structure as one of the nation’s healthiest buildings to work in — and one of its best designed and built.

“This project is sure to draw attention from around the country,” said Christine Ervin, USGBC president and CEO.

“MarketPlace is an outstanding demonstration of businesses simultaneously achieving strong economic and environmental performance through smart-building design.”

Ervin was right about the building becoming an attention-grabber.

Late last month, MarketPlace received another major accolade when the American Institute of Architects named it one of its top 10 green projects for 2003 — the only one in Michigan and only one of two in the Midwest to make the national honor list.

The building was officially christened as placing in the top 10 a few weeks ago during a special presentation held at the National Museum Building in Washington, D.C., and again last week at the AIA National Convention and Design Expo in San Diego.

The honors the building has received have likely met, and possibly exceeded, everyone’s expectations, even those of its owner — the Granger Group of Companies, which is based in Lansing.

“Our expectation was to provide Herman Miller with a LEED-certified, leased office property that would be nothing less than a great place to work,” said Gary Granger, Granger Group president.

Granger credited the intellisys system for the building’s LEED success, and for the building fitting the environmental commitment that Herman Miller has made to its work method and products. Intellisys is a systematized process created by the Granger Group that delivers a building from pre-construction planning to tenant move-in. The system delivers smart, healthy buildings with flexible floor plans and abundant natural light in a shorter-than-average period of time.

“MarketPlace is a prime example of how Herman Miller continues to take a leadership role in bringing the environmental sustainability ethic to the corporate workplace,” said Len Pilon, director of Workplace Strategy and Facilities for Herman Miller.

Integrated Architecture helped Granger develop the design of MarketPlace using the intellisys system, which resulted in a central light well, an open ceiling, tall windows and a high-efficiency energy system.

A healthy $100,000 was trimmed from the building’s annual operating cost, largely through lower utility and custodial charges, while the construction cost came to $89 per square foot — an abnormally low figure for a new office building.

Intellisys drew manufacturers, vendors and engineers into the design meetings with Granger and Integrated Architecture early in the project’s development, allowing them to comment on the drawings and add their expertise to the project even before the design stage began.

The process can be used on other commercial ventures, too, such as retail and industrial, and it isn’t limited to new construction, as it can be used in renovation projects as well.

“This is a collaborative design approach where the trades, suppliers and manufacturers are part of the design team and not just left to build the building,” said Michael Corby, executive vice president of Integrated Architecture, the firm that designed MarketPlace.

The benefit of such an approach is that suppliers and manufacturers already have their research and development ducks in a row. In contrast, architects and engineers often don’t have the resources available to undertake that work.

Corby said bringing these groups on board early in the design stage gives designers a chance to tap into their knowledge and get as much value out of the construction as possible as early as possible.

“What we did with MarketPlace was create a very responsible building in a competitive way, cost-wise. We don’t feel that you have to spend more to get a building that is a very responsible building,” said Corby.

“I think the remarkable thing about Marketplace is just that. We built that building for what Herman Miller considered is below their traditional office cost,” he added.

“The other aspect of it is it operates efficiently. It’s a healthier building, and it’s a presumably more productive building in terms of the environment it creates for the people that are in it.”

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