Background: Importance of Considering the Environment
In a world with limited resources, there has been a move towards using renewable energy as opposed to fossil fuels to manufacture what we need, and power our everyday lives. This consideration is no different for the buildings we live and work in, as not only is it important for the environment that changes are made, these kinds of changes can also save money for businesses in the long term, by optimising energy usage and making it unnecessary to waste expenditure on heating and other kinds of energy management.
Overview: What’s Changed in Building Design
When it comes to designing and constructing a building, or a group of buildings, there have been a considerable number of developments when it comes to ensuring optimal energy usage. As we move towards a more sustainable way of living, by necessity, this means that we need to give due consideration to the way in which buildings are designed to make the most of natural resources, such as light, and in the materials that are used, to ensure the least amount of environmental impact possible.
Some of the more recent developments include improvements in insulation and the kind of glass used in the exterior facing facades of skyscrapers and other buildings, for more effective heat management and thermal performance, as well as the management and harvesting of rain and “grey” water for watering plants and internal plumbing. Rooftop gardens have also been a recent development in managing energy resources and maximising unused space in a building.
Many of these topics have been explored in the posts we’ve written about Miesian Plaza’s environmentally-focused redevelopment. This includes a detailed breakdown of what has been done to improve the thermal performance of the building with the expertise of ARUP Facade Engineers, and the way in which the glass exterior of Miesian Plaza was treated and replaced to be more effective at managing the effects of the direct sunlight coming through the glass and into the building.
What is an LEED Rating?
One of the ways in which architects and engineers have developed a system of managing energy resources when it comes to buildings is the LEED ratings system, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. This framework for environmental building regulations was put together by the US Green Building Council (USGBC), and is made up of a set of criteria that is regularly updated, with the most recent version of the regulatory framework being LEED Version 4.
In order to get an LEED rating, a building has to conform to a distinct set of criteria, depending on what kind of building it is, and what work is being done. In the case of Miesian Plaza for example, different criteria come into play when applying for accreditation as an existing building, as opposed to a new building that is being built from scratch.
Why is LEED Important?
An LEED rating is important because it is a way of upholding new standards of sustainable architectural design, and an internationally recognised way of keeping up to date with current developments in architectural design. This includes a set of rating systems for all elements of green building: design, construction and operation and maintenance. There are also four levels of certification: certified, silver, gold and platinum.
As an important public and listed building, it’s essential for Miesian Plaza to uphold all of the latest LEED requirements as part of its redevelopment, to move forward into the future with the most comprehensive sustainability criteria. For Miesian Plaza, an LEED certification provides an internationally recognised independent verification of a building’s green features, and provides a framework for designing, constructing, operating and maintaining resource-efficient, high performing, healthy and cost-effective buildings.
As an LEED accredited building, Miesian Plaza is therefore not only conforming to the latest requirements, but also ensuring that the building is equipped with all of the relevant design updates to ensure its sustainability in the future.
In the view of the Design Team, LEED is the triple bottom line in action, which benefits people, planet and profit.
LEED Ratings and Miesian Plaza
In terms of LEED certification, the Miesian Plaza redevelopment is focused on securing a Platinum LEED rating, which is the highest environmental accreditation awarded by the USGBC. In addition to the physical elements of the building, which are being optimised to align with new standards in sustainable building design, achieving a Platinum LEED also involves engaging with all stakeholders involved in the redevelopment.
To recap on the specific designs that the Miesian Plaza redevelopment will put in place to achieve this Platinum rating, here is a list of approaches that the Miesian Plaza Design Team is using to achieve their target:
- Detailed energy modelling to optimise energy cost savings and maximise LEED credits
- Green roofs for greater energy efficiency
- Low water usage sanitary fittings and rain harvesting systems to reduce water consumption
- Innovative approaches to redesign, specially the redevelopment of the facade
- Provision of bicycle facilities and changing rooms to encourage more sustainable commuting options
- Reuse of original bronze cladding material in redeveloped facades
- Sourcing material from environmentally satisfactory suppliers i.e. minimising transport distances and ensuring that all elements function at environmentally favourable rates
All of the above approaches also contribute to Miesian Plaza’s goal of creating a space that enhances the public realm, and a creates a welcoming environment for employees, pedestrians and the general public.