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Democracy Now! Studios

New York, NY LEED-CI Platinum


When the staff of the independent, daily TV/radio news program, Democracy Now!, made the decision to relocate from their former studios in Chinatown in New York City, they settled on an old warehouse in Chelsea, and enlisted the help of Bogdanow Partners Architects to help them achieve the highest level of LEED certification for this adaptive reuse project. The 10,000-square-foot raw space that had once housed a printing press achieved LEED Platinum certification largely because of a diligent reuse initiative.

As part of the design aesthetic and with conservation of materials in mind, Democracy Now! kept exposed concrete flooring and brick walls, which reduced the need for additional materials and resulted in the reuse of 62 percent of the interior, non-structural components that were pre-existing in the space. The design team also repurposed the external windows, which became interior office partitions along the south wall. The new exterior windows are made of locally-sourced thermal acoustical glass, which helps to reduce energy consumption. The columns are original, as are the radiators, which were cleaned, stripped and restored. The ceiling in the majority of the space is made of Tectum, an environmentally neutral material which is also effective for sound absorption.

Some of the project's other sustainable attributes and efficiencies include:

  • 100 percent of furniture and furnishings installed in the space were reused or salvaged, including sofas, filing cabinets, work stations, and chairs
  • 100 percent of regularly occupied work space (exempting light-sensitive work areas) has access to natural daylight and views to the outside
  • 83 percent of all new wood purchased, including bookshelves and window ledges, comes from sustainably grown and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified wood
  • 61 percent of the overall material cost for the project was comprised of locally manufactured material (manufactured within 500 miles of the project site)
  • 43 percent of overall material costs for the project were made up of recycled content material 
  • 24 percent of construction materials based on cost were made up of salvaged or repurposed materials, including salvaged doors from a retail store, a diamond plate that existed on site, and elevated flooring for the computer room that was donated
  • Recycled blue jean insulation used to provide sound installation in the broadcast studio 
  • Low VOC paints, adhesives and sealants
  • Water efficient, low-flow plumbing fixtures were installed, resulting in an estimated 33 percent reduction in water usage from flow-rates required by code
  • All kitchen appliances and office equipment are Energy Star rated
  • Occupancy and motion sensor light system installed
  • HVAC system divided into multiple zones to conserve energy