HMI British Facility Gets Dual LEED Tag

January 9, 2008
| By Pete Daly |
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CHIPPENHAM, ENGLAND — Herman Miller's International operations headquarters building here has earned a LEED Gold rating, along with the United Kingdom's equivalent, the BREEAM Excellent award. The 20,000-square foot facility houses the company's headquarters for operations outside North America.

Named VillageGreen, the building signifies the company’s 12th LEED certification awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council and the seventh to achieve LEED Gold.

Ed Nagelkirk, senior manager of Workplace Strategy and Facilities for Herman Miller, believes the "less is more" approach to VillageGreen was central to achieving Gold certification.

"The integrity of the building materials, such as the exposed concrete, structural timbers and corrugated decking, shows beautifully and requires no additional finish," he adds.

While the U.S. Department of Energy supported the development of the LEED Green Rating System, training workshops, and reference materials, the concept of construction that is energy efficient and has a low impact on the environment is being embraced worldwide — even appearing in countries such as China and India, according to Nagelkirk.

"Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design as measured by the USGBC can happen anywhere," he said. "The difficulty comes in how it is measured, since other countries may not use the same standards such as ASHRAE or the Uniform Plumbing Code."

Nagelkirk added that their construction engineering consultant in the U.K., Buro Happold, has offices in the United States as well, which helped with some of the LEED credit interpretations.

Eighty people work at VillageGreen, which was designed by international architecture firm Gensler specifically to achieve the highest certification in environmental design and management. Completed in January 2006, it already has achieved the United Kingdom's BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) Excellent award.

"Through the process of dual certification, we enhanced the design of the building because the two systems are not aligned perfectly," said Nagelkirk. “For example, water metering and leak detection is big with BREEAM while the fixture selection/performance is big with LEED."

Several notable details qualified VillageGreen for LEED Gold, including:

  • Natural ventilation. A computerized system adjusts airflow, eliminating the need for air conditioning.

  • All timber is from FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) sustainable sources.

  • Recycled aggregate building materials are sourced from within 30 kilometers.

  • All carpeting is recyclable.

  • Energy-efficient lighting is activated by movement sensors.

  • Seventy-five percent of the building is exposed to natural daylight and 95 percent of the office space includes a view of the outside.

  • Bicycle racks and showers are provided to encourage alternative transportation.

"VillageGreen provides an efficient and dynamic work environment for employees and it also has become a popular customer destination," said John Portlock, president of Herman Miller International. "It also serves as a living case study about the possibilities that exist with sustainable design."

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