A Look Inside Autodesk’s LEED and Green Mark Certified Office

Autodesk announced recently that its Singapore office at Solaris has received the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum Certification for Commercial Interiors (LEED CI-2009 Platinum), and this is Autodesk’s first office in Asia to be LEED certified. LEED is a rating system for green buildings developed by the US Green Building Council. In addition, Autodesk’s Solaris office also received the BCA Green Mark Platinum Award from the Building and Construction Authority of Singapore (BCA).

To find out more about this green office, we visited Autodesk at Solaris to explore the green features and understand what goes into achieving the LEED and Green Mark certification. After taking a tour of the office, we found that there were several green features in the office, including:

Energy

The new LEED certified office is about 23% more energy efficient than the old office.

The Building Management System provides central monitoring and controlling, and efficient management of energy. The system allows for individual monitoring of the air handling units, fan coil units, air conditioning and mechanical ventilation services and electrical services. It also tracks electricity usage in various zones.

Air-conditioning systems are designed to provide flexibility of maintaining a comfortable temperature in the entire office area. The zoning of air-conditioning is also implemented to serve areas with different usage or occupancy needs.

The design for the lighting was developed to comply with the requirements of various zones. All the built areas such as closed offices and meeting rooms are strategically located to allow maximum daylight into the open office spaces. Daylight sensors are installed to regulate the artificial light and maximum use of daylight. Motion controls, including microwave sensors, and photo-sensors are also in place.

The furniture system used was selected because the low panels allow maximum daylight to come into the space, which in turn reduces the need for artificial lighting. The use of LED task lights allow occupants to control their own lighting. The office uses 100% LED task lights for all the workstations.

Water

Water-efficient fixtures are used where possible to reduce water consumption. The sanitary fixtures are rated as excellent under the Water Efficiency Label Scheme, and water sub metering systems are installed to keep a tab on water consumption.

Space

The Telepresence room allows the staff to have teleconferencing, and cut down on air travel and carbon footprint.

The Town Hall conference area is designed for efficient use of space, where three rooms can be combined through removable operable walls to accommodate larger events.

The internal staircase helps to to minimize and eliminate the use of the lift to commute between level 4 and 5 of the office.

Materials

About 81% of all the products used in the office are made of recyclable materials. For example, the palm wood flooring used is 100% recyclable and most of the carpet flooring is recyclable. In addition, the materials have low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) content and conform to the Singapore Green Labeling Scheme and US Green Seal standards.

The office also uses Singapore Green Labelled products such as janitorial and washing products, stationery and recycled printing paper. The printers are set as default duplex printing, and Energy Star labelled energy efficient office equipment are used.

The staff also uses reusable cutlery and crockery, and are encouraged to use the recycling bins placed on all floors.

LEED and Green Mark Certification – Why and How

Through our interview with Autodesk representatives, we understand that Autodesk is a company committed to sustainability and the Singapore office’s LEED and BCA Green Mark certification demonstrates this environmental responsibility.

The office certifications also show that Autodesk is taking the lead, and setting a  good example when they push for sustainability through their sustainable building modelling software, or as technology partners advising what needs to be done for energy and climate change.

One of the key success to LEED or Green Mark certification is to have top management support and getting everybody to be involved right from the start. Office users are also involved in the design of their work environment, and were told why and what was being done. Change champions were also appointed to inculcate the new philosophy on green offices and practices.

Another key success is the use of Building Information Modeling (BIM) for designing green buildings. BIM is an intelligent model-based process that provides insight for creating and managing building and infrastructure projects faster, more economically, and with less environmental impact.

Using Building Information Modeling (BIM)

Autodesk appointed Aedas Interiors to design the interior space for LEED and Green Mark certification. To meet the project’s environmental goals, Aedas employed a BIM design process using Autodesk’s BIM software portfolio. Architects employed Autodesk Revit Architecture software to visualize real-world appearance and simulate the performance and cost of the interior build-out.

The software also kept designers, contractors and Autodesk synchronized throughout the design and construction of the office. Autodesk Revit MEP software, the BIM software solution for building systems design, was used to plan the layout of air ducts and electrical systems on the two-and-a-half floors occupied by Autodesk. The designers also used Autodesk 3ds Max Design software to render interior spaces in detail.

With the use of BIM, everybody could see and understood what was being designed. With analysis and simulation built into the process, everyone could see how the building performs and behaves over a period of time. BIM helps to digitally create a building and to understand all its aspects. Users can try out multiple options, optimisation of materials, compare energy studies, carbon footprint or utilisation levels, explore more efficient design, and make fast analysis and logical decisions.

The traditional design and building process is a fragmented structure and data does not flow from one to another in a seamless way, and nobody has the complete information required to make informed decisions. So the Autodesk representatives advise companies interested in Green Mark or LEED certification to look at the use of BIM to reduce errors and time.

Although it takes time to change people’s mindset, overcome resistance, and get people to adopt BIM, they share that more firms are starting to use BIM and the interest is quite high. This is because BCA has taken leadership and pushing the industry to use BIM widely by 2015.

BCA is also providing funding through the Building Information Model (BIM) Fund to help firms adopt BIM technology into their work processes. The funding applies to the cost incurred in training, consultancy, software or hardware.

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