Time Warner Center Built to LEED Specs

The Time Warner Center is under construction at Columbus Circle, one of the most prominent corners in New York City. Its 2.1 million gross square feet will be a showcase for energy efficient design. It will house the AOL Time Warner headquarters, CNN broadcast studios, 6 floors of high-end retail stores and restaurants, luxury condominiums, a hotel and Jazz at Lincoln Center. Steven Winter Associates is the project’s green building consultant and is advising the team of architects and engineers on efficient energy practices and green building materials.The project will fulfill the requirements to earn a LEED green building rating and the recently established NY State Green Building Tax Credit. The project will incorporate a wide range of energy conservation strategies including premium efficiency motors and chiller, occupant controlled daylight dimming and lighting, demand-based ventilation in large retail areas and auditoriums and carbon-sensor-based garage ventilation.

Dozens of commercial projects have registered as LEED-rated buildings in the six months since its launch. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is now building the organizational infrastructure to support it, hiring staff to assist with technical support and program outreach, and establishing project database and tracking systems. A 250 page Reference Guide and other support documents are online. Users will soon be able to calculate building performance online and the first training exam for building certifiers will be administered soon.

The USGBC is quickly building on LEED’s success for commercial buildings by developing other certification products. The first will be LEED Commercial Interiors which will offer certification for improving tenant spaces and build-out projects. Another program will cover single and multi-family homes and a committee is forming to develop a LEED system for existing building operations and maintenance. The latter program will be used to re-certify LEED commercial buildings after 5 years of operation. Lastly, the group is planning how LEED can be applied to multi-building development projects.

A recent study sponsored by the City of Portland Energy Office analyzed the life cycle costs associated with building green in three buildings built over the past six years. The direct life cycle savings were almost 80 percent more than the additional upfront investment of two percent or less. They calculated the societal benefits such as improved air quality as worth another 40 percent. Together, these benefits are more than double the cost over 25 years. And, although productivity impacts are hard to quantify, many studies point to greater employee productivity in green buildings.

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