Chloe Bendistis is the sustainability project manager at the Sheward Partnership.
There is an undoubtable cool factor that comes with a LEED Platinum project, and this one is no exception. At 2.0 University Place, for example, a 14,000-sq-ft accessible green roof is a popular recreation spot for tenants and a living receptacle for stormwater that would otherwise flow to the sewers and rivers. The feature helps the building achieve LEED credits for stormwater design and reducing heat island effect, where bare urban rooftops reflect the sun and cause cities to heat up.
The building also features a SEMCO chilled beam system, which uses almost 100 percent outside air to distribute heating and cooling throughout the building and reduce HVAC energy consumption. By drawing in and purifying outside air, the system also reduces indoor carbon dioxide and allows occupants to individually control their particular spaces, helping the building earn a point toward the Thermal Comfort credit.
The aptly named 3.0 University Place takes sustainable technology and design to the next level. The building will feature cisterns that collect rainwater to both irrigate the 22,000-sq-ft rooftop garden and supplement water used in the building’s cooling towers. And SEMCO’s chilled beam technology will again be a fixture of 3.0 University Place, with a next-generation pump cap package that reduces energy consumption and operational costs.
“It allows us to turn on pumps only as we need them to circulate water through the chilled beams, instead of bringing cooled and hot water throughout the building,” says Brad Randall, principal at the engineering firm Bruce E. Brooks & Associates.
As 3.0 University Place’s engineering consultant, Randall’s firm is charged with a difficult task: ensuring that complex, highly efficient systems are effective, seamlessly integrated, and simple enough for tenants and maintenance crews to interface with on a daily basis.
The expansive rooftop garden at 2.0 University Place.
To make that happen, Randall’s team meets with both the products’ engineers and the contractors who will install them. That process is made easier because Mazo also researches the latest technologies and meets with manufacturers to maximize system efficiencies and reduce product costs. It’s an unusual role for a developer to play and invaluable in pulling off a project as sophisticated as the Platinum Corridor.
Of course, occupant behavior and operator error can cause even the most advanced systems to fall apart, says Randall, so the firm designs systems that anticipate those behaviors. For example, automatic LED lighting is set to a low level by default, rather than beginning at maximum brightness and relying on users to manually turn them down. And Bruce E. Brooks & Associates offers education services to occupants to ensure that sustainable systems perform at their peak.
“It takes care during the design and construction and follow-up afterward,” says Randall.
Achieving LEED Platinum also means going beyond energy efficiencies and water conservation. As a transit-oriented development, the Platinum Corridor is strategically located just one block from Philadelphia’s subway system at 40th and Market Street. The site is also served by several bus lines and is bicycle accessible, with onsite showers available to encourage workers to ditch their cars for more efficient modes of self-propelled transportation. These measures help 2.0 University Place and future buildings in the Platinum Corridor achieve LEED Sustainable Sites credits for access to public and alternative transportation.
Yet the Platinum Corridor’s most significant contribution to University City’s workforce and businesses may be its emphasis on occupant health and wellness. In addition to providing workers in 2.0 University Place with accessible green space and visual access to the outdoors in 90 percent of the building, LEED Platinum tenant spaces were built with low-emission sealants and adhesives. The building also circulates more than twice the amount of outdoor air per person as a conventional office building. Why should that matter to existing and potential tenants of the Platinum Corridor?
Rendering of 3.0 University Place, which will begin construction in 2018. 3.0 University Place will have a 22,000-sq-ft green roof and cisterns to recycle rainwater for irrigation and chiller towers.
According to a 2015 Harvard University study, “The Impact of Green Buildings on Cognitive Function,” workers who labored in spaces with low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and high levels of circulating outdoor air performed 101 percent better on cognitive function tests than workers in conventional workplace settings. It’s a finding that also has real-world implications for a company’s bottom line, with increased cognition generating as much as $6,500 in improved productivity per person per year, the study found.
“Energy is one piece, but looking at cost of productivity and human health benefits—that’s where Scott and the Platinum Corridor differentiate themselves,” says Michael Pavelsky, sustainability director at the Sheward Partnership.
In keeping with Mazo’s long history of making a meaningful impact on Philadelphia’s residents, the Platinum Corridor’s design also considers those already living and working in University City. The entrance to 2.0 University Place, for example, is oriented to the north to face residential neighborhoods and increase community connectivity. And exterior plazas throughout the Platinum Corridor will engage the community with open designs and green features.
“We want to make the Platinum Corridor a place where people want to come—to work and live in this neighborhood,” adds Pavelsky.
Mazo’s Platinum Corridor is already seeing measurable results in energy efficiency and cost savings, and energy models for 3.0 University Place are generating impressive forecasts.
According to University Place Associates, 2.0 University Place uses 33 percent less energy than a conventional building, with a 29.2 percent reduction in energy costs. The building uses almost 42 percent less indoor water and captures and treats 95 percent of rainwater that falls on the site, reusing it for irrigation of the vegetated roof.
3.0 University Place’s sustainable design and green technologies will save 1 million KwH of electricity per year when compared to a conventional building. Through high-efficiency water systems, including the recycling of rainwater for both rooftop irrigation and the building’s cooling tower, the building will also save an estimated 778,000 gallons of water annually. Its design also calls for diverting 50 tons of construction waste from landfills.
Those environmental benefits may not be a draw for every company, but the Platinum Corridor’s promise of significant utility savings, healthier work environments, and increased worker productivity is universally appealing. For Mazo, who sees both principle and profit as integral to his success, it’s all part of an unconventional formula three decades in the making.
“This is the contribution I want to make,” says Mazo. “There’s only one planet we have to live on, so I’m going to make it work by good practices. That’s part of the equation.”