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Case Studies

The Solaire | Blair Towns | NRDC Santa Monica | OHSU's Center for Health and Healing

Whether you're brainstorming green strategies or researching the potential costs and paybacks of building green, you will almost certainly find a case study online that describes a project similar to your own. The web offers a growing number of case studies covering a broad range of commercial, institutional and residential green building projects, including those that have achieved LEED certification.

Below are a few examples that showcase key green building strategies and accomplishments. For links to case studies on other sites, click here.

The Solaire
Photo: Jeff Goldberg / Esto
SUMMARY INFORMATION: THE SOLAIRE
LocationNew York, NY
Occupancy27-story residential tower with 293 units
Size357,000 sq. feet
CompletedAugust 2003
OwnerRiver Terrace Associates, LLC
DeveloperAlbanese Development Corporation
ArchitectSchuman, Lichtenstein, Claman, Efron Architects
Awards and RatingsLEED Gold certification; AIA/COTE Green Project Award (2004)


Situated on the banks of the Hudson River in lower Manhattan, the Solaire offers its residents convenient access to public transportation, on-demand hybrid rental cars, bicycle parking and electric vehicle charging. Gardens of native shrubs, perennials and bamboo cover 75 percent of the roof, helping to lower heating and cooling loads and increase tenant satisfaction. To help reduce potable water demand by 50 percent overall, the building uses recycled wastewater for its cooling tower, low-flow toilets and for irrigating landscaping.

The Solaire cut its energy demand by 35 percent using automatic dimming fluorescent lights, high-performance windows, daylighting and other strategies; west-facing photovoltaic panels supply 5 percent of the building's energy needs. Ninety-three percent of the construction waste for the project was recycled and about 60 percent of the building materials were made from recycled content. To maintain superior air quality, the building features filtered fresh air, operable windows and controlled humidity.
Full case study (pdf) »

Blair Towns
SUMMARY INFORMATION: BLAIR TOWNS
LocationSilver Spring, MD
OccupancyFour-story apartment complex with 78 units
Size107,000 sq. feet
CompletedAugust 2003
OwnerThe Tower Companies
DeveloperThe Tower Companies
ArchitectNiles Bolton Associates
Awards and RatingsLEED Certified certification; National Association of Home Builders Research Center Energy Value Housing Award (Gold; 2004)


Located close to shops, restaurants and public transportation in Silver Spring's central business district, Blair Towns was designed to limit sprawl and curb its tenants' dependency on automobiles. To address stormwater runoff, the builders minimized paved areas and installed a pollution separation and filtering system in parking lot drains. Blair Towns consumes 30 percent less water than conventional apartment buildings through the use of highly water-efficient showerheads, faucet aerators and Energy Star dishwashers and clothes washers.

To cut energy use by 20 percent, the complex features a combined furnace and water heater in each unit, high-performance windows, high-efficiency ceiling fans and fluorescent lights, and a well-insulated thermal envelope. To help maintain indoor air quality, the builders used nontoxic paints, sealants, adhesives and carpets. Of the building materials, 63 percent were sourced locally within 500 miles of the project and 40 percent were made from recycled content.
Full case study (pdf) »

NRDC's Santa Monica Office
SUMMARY INFORMATION: NRDC'S SANTA MONICA OFFICE
LocationSanta Monica, CA
OccupancyThree-story small office building
Size15,000 sq. feet
CompletedNovember 2003
OwnerNatural Resources Defense Council
DeveloperTishman Construction Corporation
ArchitectMoule & Polyzoides
Awards and RatingsLEED Platinum certification; Congress for the New Urbanism Charter Award (2004).


For its Southern California office, NRDC chose to renovate a 1920s-era structure in Santa Monica's pedestrian center to take advantage of existing services like transit and to avoid building on undeveloped land. To reduce the flow of stormwater and cut potable water use, the project includes an advanced system to retain, filter and recycle rainwater and wastewater. Through the use of recycled water for toilet flushing and landscape irrigation, drought-resistant plantings and water-efficient plumbing, the building is projected to use 60 percent less potable water than a comparable non-green building.

Energy savings are expected to reach 70 percent with the help of light wells, clerestories and other daylighting techniques; energy-efficient computers and equipment; dimmable electronic ballasts; occupancy and photo sensors; and tankless gas heaters. To cut back on materials and resources, the builders recycled 90 percent of the deconstruction and construction waste from the site, specified new wood from sustainable forests only and made wide use of wood alternatives and recycled content furniture. The building protects indoor air quality through the use of operable windows, low- and no-VOC materials and furnishings, environmentally sound cleaning products and an indoor air monitoring system.
Full case study (pdf) » | Online walkthrough of NRDC's SM office »

OHSU's Center for Health and Healing
Photo: courtesy of Interface Engineering
SUMMARY INFORMATION: OHSU'S CENTER FOR HEALTH AND HEALING
LocationPortland, OR
Occupancy16-story medical office and wellness building
Size400,000 sq. feet
CompletedFall 2006
OwnerRIMCO, a partnership of doctors and OHSU
DeveloperGerding/Edlen Development
ArchitectGBD Architects
EngineerInterface Engineering, Inc.
Awards and RatingsLEED Platinum (goal)


The Oregon Health & Science University's 16-story Center for Health and Healing, opening in fall 2006, anchors a new urban district that is rising on abandoned industrial land on Portland's south riverfront. OHSU's building, which will house a bioscience research facility, clinic space, outpatient surgery and a wellness center, is reaching for the highest level of green building certification while being engineered on a conventional budget.

To achieve 61 percent projected energy savings, the building team is employing a number of strategies, including a large-scale onsite microturbine plant; ample use of natural ventilation and displacement ventilation; radiant cooling with chilled beams and a radiant slab; use of solar shades that double as solar power generators; and the first U.S. use of radiant chilled beams to supplement air conditioning in a large building. Water savings of 56 percent will be achieved through 100 percent onsite sewage treatment; all rainwater and wastewater will be harvested for toilets and landscaping.

The engineers' approach was to harvest nature's "free" resources such as air, water and light, rather than sealing nature out and relying heavily on mechanical systems, as occurs in conventional building. The result is a multiple-use center engineered on a conventional budget that provides for the health, comfort and productivity of occupants as well as respect for the environment.

Interface Engineering also offers "Engineering A Sustainable World," a free 48-page guide to the project that shares the strategies that led to a top-level green building on a standard engineering budget.
Full case study (pdf) »

For links to case studies on other sites, click here »

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