The Center on Halsted, ChicagoThe Center on Halsted, Chicago (Christopher Barrett)

Campus center honors green, effective workplaces

| 20 November 2008

The Howard M. Metzenbaum U.S. Courthouse, ClevelandThe Howard M. Metzenbaum U.S. Courthouse, Cleveland (WRL/GSA)

Four U.S. workplaces that are both ecologically responsible and well-liked by users are recipients of the 2008 Livable Buildings Awards given by the campus Center for the Built Environment (CBE).

The top winner and three honorable mentions represent diverse projects that all meet high standards for indoor environmental quality, implementation of green-building strategies, and overall design and they also are certified under the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) system. The awards unique among building-industry recognition efforts in that their selection criteria include the preferences of building occupants were announced during the center's recent annual meeting with its industry advisory board.

The mission of CBE is to improve the design, operation, and environmental quality of buildings by providing timely, unbiased information on building technologies and design techniques. The center issued its highest Livable Buildings Award this year to the SCA Americas Headquarters, the Philadelphia offices of a global paper-products company, which occupy three floors of the 28-story Cira Centre. Upon its completion in 2006, the building was one of the first projects to earn the nation's new LEED-CI gold certification for commercial interiors.

"Environmental sustainability is a strong feature of the way we do business," says SCA Americas spokeswoman Kirsty Halliday. "So it was only natural that we chose to implement a LEED gold-certified office space in order to achieve the safest indoor-air quality, source building materials sustainably, use recycled products, and carefully consider our new office's use of resources, as we already do at our manufacturing facilities."

SCA Americas Headquarters, Philadelphia SCA Americas Headquarters, Philadelphia (Christopher Barrett)

The awards jury made up of Center for the Built Environment industry partners also recognized three projects for honorable mention. They include the Howard M. Metzenbaum U.S. Courthouse in Cleveland, a renovation and adaptation of a historic structure built in 1910; the Center on Halsted community center in Chicago, a mixed-use project that combines a Whole Foods grocery store with a nonprofit community center serving the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community; and a Department of Homeland Security building (with LEED gold certification) in Omaha.

Jurors selected the four winning projects from the best-ranked of more than 120 buildings that used CBE's Occupant Indoor Environmental Quality Survey in 2007. Each project earned highly favorable responses from building occupants about many work-environment elements, including lighting, thermal comfort, acoustics, indoor-air quality, and overall satisfaction.

Survey results and photos of the 2008 Livable Buildings Award winners are online. Information about the occupant survey is on the CBE website.