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Tenant Engagement, Energy Efficiency Lead To LEED Gold for 255 Alhambra Circle
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It’s often said that the older the building, the more difficult it is to go green. That certainly wasn’t the case for the Transwestern-managed building at 255 Alhambra Circle. Originally constructed in 1974, 255 Alhambra Circle, a 13-story, 231,000-square-foot multi-tenant office building with first-floor retail tenants located in the heart of Coral Gables, Fla., received LEED Gold certification by the LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance (LEED-EBOM) rating system. The project earned 64 points, placing it in the top 22 percent of all LEED certified projects.
Working in tandem with Transwestern Sustainability Services (TSS), Transwestern’s on-site management staff reviewed and implemented building operation and maintenance plans that helped the property to achieve an Energy Star score of 90, meaning the building is in the top 10 percent of energy efficient buildings nationally. As part of this energy efficiency strategy, an ongoing retro-commissioning plan is in place to continually test, verify, and improve the overall efficiency of the building. Additionally, the team created a comprehensive policy that defines guidelines for purchasing energy efficient office electronics, furniture that meets sustainable material requirements, and light bulbs that contain low or no mercury. In total, the building earned 25 of a possible 35 points in the Energy and Atmosphere category.
The team implemented several policies and procedures for tenants, which were critical to the LEED goals. The team instituted a high-performance green cleaning program, ensuring no high-hazard chemicals are used. This improves indoor environmental quality and earned several LEED points. The team also earned several points for “exemplary performance” in purchasing — 100 percent sustainable cleaning products and materials. Finally, the team established a comprehensive and ongoing tenant engagement program to help ensure that initiatives instituted at the time of certification don’t fall by the wayside in the long run.
The building’s site and location were also huge factors in the LEED certification. As 255 Alhambra Circle is located in a suburban setting outside of Miami, the percentage of building occupants using alternative transportation is high — 17.5 percent of building occupants use alternative transportation to commute to and from work. But for those workers who drive, 77 percent of the building’s parking is underground, therefore reducing the non-roof heat island effect. Having a non-reflective hardscape increases the ambient temperature, impacting microclimates and human and wildlife habitats.
The team also concentrated on water efficiency by using low-flow aerators, and low-flush toilets and urinals. The building is realizing a 37.6 percent reduction in potable water use for flush and flow fixtures.
“There has been a perception that greening the current standards of existing buildings is too costly or arduous of a task,” said Marta Fernandez, general property manager with Transwestern, who managed the certification process on behalf of the building’s ownership. “With a 40-year-old building, there was concern that we would not qualify for LEED certification. However, through the guidance of TSS and our skilled management team, we were able to reach LEED Gold without a large capital expenditure.”