In Houston, reaching new heights in sustainability



Houston

Capitol Tower will feature a two-level connection between Houston’s pedestrian tunnels and streets.

The latest version of LEED – version 4 – is such a big step forward for green building that the previous version doesn’t phase out until 2015. In planning our 750,000-square-foot Capitol Tower project in Houston, Skanska – which is developing this project – decided to push the throttle on green building: Not only are we abiding by LEED v4’s stricter energy and operational performance requirements, but we’re also seeking Platinum certification. Our development projects are our “test kitchens” for sustainability, and we’re pushing the limits of green building technology at Capitol Tower.

In November, the U.S. Green Building Council announced that Capitol Tower – part of the Version 4 beta program – has been pre-certified as Platinum under LEED v4, making it one of the handful of projects worldwide to already achieve designations under this new standard.

Developing to this standard will be a key selling point to potential tenants.

“We think it’s going to be a differentiator in the market,” said Ben Llana, Skanska development manager.

Llana said our team thoroughly studied LEED v4 and found that it was better aligned with the goals of both the project and Skanska as a whole. Part of that is involves being part of the LEED v4 beta program, for which our team engages with USGBC, sending them comments on what works and what might be approved.

Our team intends for the 35-story Capitol Tower – for which the construction start is pending a pre-lease – to achieve between 88 and 92 LEED points, while 80 points is required for Platinum status, said Myrrh Caplan, Skanska sustainability manager.

Capitol Tower’s sustainable features include:

- High-performance building facade that significantly reduces solar gain;
- Daylight harvesting technology that can significantly reduce energy usage;
- 90 percent access to daylight and views for tenants;
- Garage with occupancy lighting sensors and a green rooftop;
- Alternative vehicle charging stations;
- Rainwater collection system for reuse in landscape irrigation and water closets; and
- Bicycle racks, lockers and showers to encourage commuting.

Among the new LEED credits Capitol Tower is expected to achieve is that for integrated design. This requires proof that project partners worked collaboratively from the beginning of the project to achieve the best solutions.

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