How The Green Building Council Greened Its HQ
The 30-year-old organization that pioneered environmental ratings for buildings has scored a deep green trifecta with its own headquarters.
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) says its newly built-out Washington, D.C., headquarters at 2101 L Street NW is the first-ever office to earn Platinum certification in LEED, TRUE and WELL, receiving the highest grades in the three separate certifications, which address the sustainability, efficiency and health of buildings, respectively.
The nonprofit USGBC promotes sustainability in building design, construction and operation. It oversees the LEED and TRUE certification programs through Green Building Certification Inc., which is also headquartered in the building.
“Being triple certified is an extension of, and honors, our mission, and we really wanted our space to reflect our work so when people come into the space, the know they are entering a sustainable space that conserves materials and is very committed to zero waste,” Melanie Mayo-Rodgers, facilities director for the USGBC, told Commercial Observer. “We also wanted to have a space that was replicable, so other projects could look at it and see it can be accomplished with using primarily tenant improvement dollars.”
Achieving all three certifications helps the nonprofit show it’s focused on decarbonization, indoor environmental quality and resource efficiency, among other sustainable efforts.
The space is owned by JBG Smith (JBGS). When USGBC moved in, in 2022, the building was already LEED Gold certified, and the nonprofit looked for ways to cut emissions further.
When building out its office, the USGBC prioritized reusing things, such as repurposing furniture, equipment and other supplies. This led to a 44 percent decrease in carbon emissions. Additionally, workspaces were reconfigured and the project reused all kitchen materials, mailing supplies, flooring from the lobby, window shades, and more.
“We worked closely with the landlord, because as a tenant it’s important to have the building’s documentation for things like green cleaning, building water commissioning, and HVAC and air quality,” Mayo-Rodgers said. “It’s challenging, but something that is achievable.”
The USGBC headquarters is currently used as a hybrid workspace, accommodating staff needs for in-person work and meetings on a rotating schedule. The space also features dedicated rooms for wellness activities and focused work, as well as a podcast recording studio.
Perkins&Will handled design and project management for the space. Approximately 95 percent of the original construction materials were reused or diverted from landfills, including ceiling tiles, ceiling grid, drywall, glass panels, hardware, millwork and terrazzo flooring.
Additionally, USGBC offered furniture to staff, donated items and sold items at auction.
“Keeping materials out of landfills was a top priority that was achieved through careful planning, targeted demolition and innovative reuse,” Mayo-Rodgers said. “We succeeded in reducing not only waste but also our project costs and environmental footprint.”
Keith Loria can be reached at Kloria@commercialobserver.com.