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NRDC’s New York Headquarters Prototype Achieves Highest LEED-CI Rating Ever

New floor at the NRDC achieves the highest percentage of potential points in any LEED-CI project in the world.


NRDC LEED Certified Headquarters

New York, NY—Croxton Collaborative Architects and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) have unveiled the most recent chapter in their 25-year collaboration: a high-performance, sustainable prototype which is the entire eighth floor of the New York City Headquarters. Achieving LEED-CI Platinum certification, the project received the highest LEED-CI rating ever given nationally or internationally, and the highest LEED rating of any building type in New York City.

Located at 40 West 20th Street in Manhattan, the NRDC’s eighth floor prototype is the first step in an enterprise-wide assessment of the resource and sustainable potentials of NRDC’s workplace, and the transformation of NRDC’s other workplaces nationally and internationally. This project creates a more sustainable, universal office plan that increases occupant density and accommodates “mixed mode” work patterns (visiting peers, interns, hoteling, teaming plus wireless telephony, team rooms and universal data ports) while improving well-being.

Energy efficiency was a key project goal. A high-efficiency HVAC unit was installed (40.3 percent more efficient than code), the lighting design was tuned to minimize energy usage while maintaining productive light levels (36.8 percent more efficient than code), and a thermal upgrade/retrofit was performed via environmentally benign insulation plus high-performance glazing. Daylight was maximized through optimized ceiling geometries, high reflectance surfaces, dual-zone daylighting control and incorporating a daylight responsive continuous dimming system. As a result of these strategies, the project achieved all eight available LEED energy points.

In order to “democratize the window,” the design of the office pulls the workstations away from the window. Not only does this improve circulation within the space, it also improves the thermal quality (unobstructed mixing of radiant heat plus glare reduction via upper/lower daylighting control). Additionally, by treating the perimeter and windows as a commons, as opposed to the outdated, traditional model of giving exterior and corner offices to executives, the design team greatly enhanced human health and well-being. This approach gives all employees, from interns to executives, a connection to nature and diurnal cycles, which has been shown to increase worker health and productivity. 

Indoor air quality (IAQ) was thoroughly addressed by the specification of low- and no-VOC materials, materials with no added urea formaldehyde, low-emitting carpet and high efficiency filtration of ventilation air. Post-construction IAQ testing confirmed contaminant concentrations magnitudes below USGBC “green” thresholds for good indoor air quality.

Focusing on both groups’ emphasis on resourcefulness, the project was one of the first on the East Coast to utilize Integrated Project Delivery (IPD). The general contractor, ICS Builders, worked tightly with the design team to increase efficiency and avoid potential conflicts. As a result, the project was 7.5 percent under budget and had only two change orders.

See more images of the project at Croxton Collaborative Architects’ website.