BRIT: Making A Building Green
In May, 2011, BRIT opened to the public its new 70,000-square-foot US Green Building Council (USGBC) LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum-certified headquarters located on 5.2 acres in the Fort Worth Cultural District. The new facility and campus reflect BRIT’s core principles of conservation, sustainability, and a connection to the land and its history.
LEED certification is based on credits earned in five categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy & atmosphere, materials & resources, and indoor environmental quality.
To meet LEED Platinum certification standards, BRIT’s building and landscape feature the following:
1. Rain Gardens
On artificial surfaces like parking lots, rain can’t soak into the ground. It runs off, often overwhelming sewer systems and wasting water. Rain gardens are shallow depressions near runoff sources. Planted with deep-rooted native plants and grasses, they protect sewers from flooding, nourish indigenous plants, and help to reduce pollution and erosion.
2. Low Emissions Vehicle Parking
Cars classed as “low-emitting and fuel efficient vehicles” by California’s Air Resources Board, or scoring 40 on the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy rating guide, get preferred parking spots—as do carpool and vanpool vehicles.
3. Restoration of Prairie Habitat*
The Fort Worth Prairie is beautiful, supports diverse species…and is disappearing fast. In
developing this site, BRIT took great care to preserve existing trees, plant native grasses of the local prairie. The LEED credit requires that at least 50% of a developed site be restored to a viable ecosystem. BRIT restored over 76%.
4. Vegetative Living Roof
The adjective “green” has come to mean something environmentally responsible. That describes BRIT’s living roof - a carpet of plants that insulates the building (cutting heating and cooling needs), reduces rainwater runoff, improves durability, provides habitat for native plants, butterflies, and birds—and is lovely to see.
5. LED Site Lighting
To help preserve Fort Worth’s “dark sky,” as well as the nocturnal environment on which many plants and animals depend, BRIT’s exterior lights feature “cutoff” designs that eliminate light spill. The fixtures also use Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs), the most energy efficient lighting available.
6. Indigenous Plant Material
Plants grow most efficiently in their native habitat which is why planting indigenous species reduces maintenance costs and impact. (Nature, not sprinklers, does the watering.) BRIT chose a high percentage of local plants, creating a vigorous, hardy, self-sustaining ecosystem.
7. Rainwater Pond
BRIT captures rainwater for its high efficiency irrigation system. Rather than using precious potable water, the system draws from a retention pond that stores stormwater runoff from the roof and parking area.
Some conservation ideas are cutting edge, some are old. BRIT has two cisterns, one above ground and one below ground. The above ground cistern collects rainwater runoff from the roof and the underground cistern collects groundwater that is then pumped into the retention pond. The cisterns help ensure that the small portion of our site with an irrigation system uses runoff rather than potable water.
9. Low-Flow Fixtures
Many BRIT employees bike to work, which cuts transportation energy use, but increases personal energy use. Ultra low-flow showers allow them to be efficient in commuting and in freshening up. They are part of our larger water conservation commitment. Low-flow faucets, dual-flush toilets, and waterless urinals reduce water use 60% over EPA standards.
Energy & Atmosphere
10. Geothermal Wells
You are standing atop a most remarkable and efficient heating and cooling systems. It’s not an underground boiler or air conditioner. It’s the Earth itself. BRIT takes advantage of Earth’s constant temperature with 166 geothermal “wells” drilled beneath the parking lot and landscaping, an innovative technology that allows us to cut our heating and cooling loads by over 50%.
11. Rooftop Solar Panels
Green Mountain Energy Solar at Botanical Research Institute of Texas, BRIT’s 51.87 kilowatt (kW) solar photovoltaic system uses Solyndra, Inc. cylindrical-designed photovoltaic tubes mounted on 285 solar panels. It covers 5,943 square feet and is installed on the Archive Block roof of the BRIT facility. The photovoltaic system will provide approximately 14% of the building’s annual electricity requirements. It is expected to produce more than 65,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per year by converting sunlight into pollution-free electricity. The photovoltaic system is expected to offset as much as 84,000 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) each year. That's the equivalent of not driving over 86,800 miles annually, or 362 one way road trips from Dallas to Houston.
Materials & Resources
12. Wood Finish Materials
Most wood used at BRIT comes from sustainably managed forests. BRIT uses FSC labeled ash, a hardwood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council as responsibly harvested. The sinker cypress wall in the foyer comes from cypress logs that sank to the bottom of the Mississippi River as they were being transported to market over 100 years ago. Once retrieved and dried, cypress wood looks beautiful and makes sense. It has become the eco-friendly building lumber of choice.
13. Wool Carpet & Bamboo Ceilings
BRIT has been careful to use rapidly renewable materials, defined by LEED as those typically harvested within six-year cycles. These include bamboo ceiling panels, linen and paper wall coverings, and wool carpet.
14. Recycling/Use of Recycled Content Materials
Approximately 97.4 % (9,305 tons) of the materials used in the previous building were removed from the site (steel beams, joists and decking, aluminum, concrete, and brick asphalt) for recycling and use in land reclamation. Recycled Content Materials were used for over 20% of BRIT’s building materials. The most significant recycled content materials are structural steel, steel pipes and other metal products. Gypsum board and the acoustical ceiling panels are made from recycled sheetrock. The rubber-based floors are made from recycled tennis shoes and other rubbers like tires and single-ply roofing membrane
15. Indoor Air Quality
All adhesives, paints, and coatings that comply with established LEED standards. Low volatile organic compounds (VOC) carpets, floorings, and composite woods were selected to contribute to a healthy indoor environment. Instead of using standard insulating materials for the walls made from formaldehyde and fiberglass, BRIT’s wall insulation is made from sand and post-consumer recycled glass bottles, baked and blown like cotton candy.
Air ducts were covered from the time of delivery until the time they were turned on, the above ceiling spaces were cleaned before ceilings were closed, and ‘air-scrubbing’ machines were used when conducting dust producing activities; all to prevent dust and particulate from building up and effecting occupants. Carpets are 100% wool, a natural product without fumes from the harsh solvents that are used in traditional carpet manufacturing.
Since our lighting is designed to reduce the amount of energy used by standard incandescent light bulbs, indoor lighting is provided by fluorescent and LED lights. In addition, smart lighting with motion detectors and light sensors decreases artificial lighting as the natural light in the room increases, while growing brighter with reduced outside light. Sunshades on the south, east and west elevations allow light into the building while reducing the amount of solar heat gain gathered through the windows. This contributes natural lighting for occupants while reducing the amount of work the AC system has to do to cool the building in the heat of the day, thus conserving energy.
Indoor Environmental Quality
17. Daylight & Views
Windows and glazing allow natural sunlight in more than 75% of our building. “Daylighting” cuts energy use, provides better quality light, and, as an added benefit, offers refreshing views from more than 90%of the interior spaces.
Consultants include H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture LLC, the design architectural firm, New York City; Balmori Associates, Inc., the landscape design firm, New York City; Corgan Associates, Inc., the architect of record, Dallas; The Beck Group, the construction manager at risk, Fort Worth; L. A. Fuess Partners, the structural engineer, Dallas; Hart, Gaugler & Associates, the civil engineer, Dallas; Summit Consultants, the mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineer, Fort Worth; theGreen Team, LEED consultant, Tulsa; and The Projects Group, the owner’s representative, of Fort Worth.
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