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PNC’s LEED Platinum Tower: One of the Greenest Office Buildings in the World


The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc.’s new LEED Platinum tower is a 33-story, 800,000-square foot tower, located on the Southeast corner of Fifth Avenue and Wood Street in Pittsburgh. The tower, constructed to accommodate PNC’s recent growth, will host approximately 2,200 employees, is designed to be one of the greenest office buildings in the world.

“By reducing our operating costs, spurring development in downtown Pittsburgh and providing an environment in which employees are comfortable and productive, The Tower at PNC Plaza reflects PNC’s ongoing commitment to serve all of our stakeholders,” said PNC Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Bill Demchak. “Furthermore, the tower, which has been designed to consume less water and energy, takes PNC’s leadership in green building to a whole new level."

PNC expects the tower to consume 50 percent less energy and 77 percent less water than a typical office building. The building’s state-of-the-art green technologies include:

• A double-skin façade: a window system in which two panes of glass are separated by a cavity that provides insulation and helps control the building's interior temperature. Fresh air enters the cavity through the exterior façade's windows, which automatically open and close depending on weather conditions, and passes through the interior façade's vents, which provide access to the building’s floor plate.

• A solar chimney: consists of two vertical shafts located at the core of the tower through which warm air rises. The solar chimney and double-skin façade create a cycle in which fresh air enters the building, naturally warms, rises through the shafts and exits at the roof. PNC expects the double-skin façade and solar chimney to facilitate natural ventilation at least 42 percent of the year.

Blinds with automated controls: located on the interior façade, they activate depending on the amount of light entering the building. They automatically close when there is glare or a significant amount of sunlight and open when lighting conditions are ideal.

A water recycling and treatment system: the most advanced in the United States, it recycles and treats rain and wastewater for flushing, cooling and irrigation.

While focusing on the building’s environmental impact, PNC also has remained aware of its impact on the local community. Approximately 2,500 temporary construction jobs were created as a result of this project, and nearly 20 percent of the tower’s construction budget went to women- and minority-owned contractors. Furthermore, PNC has noticed a domino effect in which its investment has led (or is leading) to another, including façade renovations and new construction along Wood Street.

Equally important to the tower’s environmental and community impact is occupant satisfaction. The tower was designed to optimize the employee experience by providing a comfortable environment that encourages collaboration. Ninety-two percent of the tower’s workspaces have access to direct sunlight, and all employees have access to fresh air through the double-skin façade. Furnished two-story neighborhoods connect employees on different floors and provide alternative work spaces. Other amenities include bike racks, locker rooms, a full-service cafeteria with indoor and outdoor seating, an indoor park that features plants, furniture, fresh air and views of the city, and The James E. Rohr Auditorium, which can be used for employee and client events.

By building what it believes is the greenest office tower in the world, PNC hopes to inspire other companies to adopt similar, if not more advanced, practices. “From a resource conservation, operational efficiency and workplace satisfaction perspective, green building makes good business sense,” said PNC director of Corporate Real Estate, Gary Saulson. “Fortunately, many companies already recognize the benefits of sustainable design, and it is only a matter of time before one of them builds the next greenest office tower.”

Read more about the PNC Tower and its sophisticated building controls systems.

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