USGBC Headquarters


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In April 2009, the U.S. Green Building Council launched LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Version 3, its next-generation environmental rating system for buildings. The strength of the new system says the USGBC, is its leveraging of new building technologies and its “consensus-based, transparent, ongoing development cycle.”
When it came to designing its own new headquarters, located in the recycled shell of a 1975 office building at 2101 L Street in Washington, D.C., the USGBC walked the talk. After opening in March 2009, the 75,000-sq.-ft. office became the first space to achieve an LEED Platinum rating under the new system. The design of the USGBC’s new, larger home exhibits more than its successful growth and the highest level of LEED standards put into practice. “They also wanted to refine their message and be known not just for LEED, but as a knowledge center for sustainability,” says Ken Wilson, principal of project architect Envision Design. Intended as a “learning lab,” the new space is the focus of public tours that highlight the USGBC’s philosophy and worldwide impact to thousands of visitors each year. USGBC called on Shaw Jelveh Design to assist in this esteemed project.

Material matters
Wilson identified locations for integrating the USGBC brand into the design of the space. Recognizing that these locations would provide important “moments” for communicating their message, the Envision Design acquired the expertise of materials consultant, Mega Media Concepts (Sparta, N.J.). Known for its innovative uses of green alternatives, Mega Media identified graphic materials that had the best environmental qualities for the project. The environmentally preferable alternatives did not cost more than conventional materials, says Shaw.
For applications that would traditionally call for cut vinyl (PVC-based) lettering on glass, for example, Mega Media provided a clear film it calls “Eco Film,” made of polyester and applied with a water-based adhesive. “Vinyl cut lettering is less expensive and much more readily installed,” says Marybeth Shaw, principal of Shaw Jelveh.
Other graphic elements employed what Mega Media calls “Eco-Wallpaper” made from post-consumer recycled paper content and printed with latex-based, VOC-free inks as well as Eco-Celtic Cloth made from 100% recycled polyester.

Small steps, big impact
“The theme that guides the graphics is the idea that many small things add up to something very powerful,” says Shaw. Visitors to the space discover the nuances of this theme as they tour a path punctuated by six major “graphic pauses.” The signage program also earned a LEED point for Green Education in the Innovation in Design category.
The first pause is a “Thank You” to donors who are recognized on a 4- by 4-ft. laminated glass panel projected at eight points off an oak veneer backdrop in the office lobby. Text was digitally printed on the clear polyester “Eco-Film” supplied by Mega Media and applied to the back of the glass using water-based, VOC-free adhesive.
The second pause is the “Performance Wall” across the waiting area. The centerpiece of the space is a large monitor displaying an interactive “Performance Dashboard” that provides detailed feedback on energy use. Visitors can explore much of the building’s performance through real-time data on plug load, lighting, occupancy, HVAC, emissions, and LEED.
A dramatic backdrop for the dashboards created by lining the wall recess with colorful text listing LEED-certified projects and locations to date. The text was printed using latex-based inks on “Eco-Wallpaper” made from 20% post-consumer recycled paper fiber content. Mega Media says they will reclaim the materials at the end of their use, making them into bags, wallets, purses, beanbag chairs, ottomans, folders, and other useful items.
The “Progress Wall” is similar, featuring a second digital monitor that displays current membership statistics and a running tally on LEED-registered projects. Wallpaper text behind it lists “the many small steps taken throughout human history that have contributed to an environmental sensibility and green building practices,” says Shaw.
To illustrate the increasing scale and scope of the LEED program, a huge world map identifies green building councils, student groups, and USGBC offices with color-coded oak leaf pushpins. The map is one of several graphics digitally printed with latex-based inks on Eco-Celtic fabric (removed Dazian fabrics) applied to Novawall, a product made with 35% recycled content. According to Mega Media, the fabric is made from 100% recycled polyester (post-industrial waste and post-consumer bottles), and each yard conserves approximately 44,000 BTUs of energy. Mega Media offers 100% recyclability by repurposing this material into bags at the end of its use.

Based on article from Metropolis Magazine