|Materials & Resources
The Building "Envelope"
There is much that can be said for the building itself. It is the heart of the system, and contains many overlapping features that were included as part of the overall LEED Certification process. The Other World Computing corporate campus was awarded LEED Platinum Certification in March 2010 by the Green Building Certification Institute. Platinum is the highest achievable level of the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Program, which began in 1998. Out of more than 14,000 LEED projects engaged worldwide since the program's inception, OWC is one of less than three hundred to achieve the Platinum standard. With this recognition, OWC also became the first privately owned light manufacturing/assembly building in Illinois to obtain LEED Platinum status.
Because the building has what is basically a "flat roof" design, the surface area of the roof is just a bit greater than the square footage of the building itself. The typical black roof is a massive area that absorbs heat during a hot summer, increasing the amount of energy needed to cool the interior as a result.
The roofing system topping off Other World Computing’s new headquarters starts with an extremely high "R-Value" insulating foam as well as a surface treatment known as "Reflective Roofing Materials." The last step for sealing the roof is to apply the roofing membrane; a multi-layered sheet of material that has been engineered for strength, durability and a long life span. The material, by Firestone Rubber Company, rolls out like carpet, and faces the sky with a bright white surface.
Gone are the days of messy tar that must be repeated every few years, with the hazardous chemicals and bad smell that go along with it! OWC’s reflective membrane roof is a rubber-like thermoplastic that rolls out onto the roof. The white surface reflects away the heat of the sun, much the same way that white clothing is cooler to wear in the summer than deep, dark colors.
The benefits of this system are many -- a significant benefit being the lack of toxins associated with tar roofing. These same toxins wash down off of the building when it rains – but with the reflective membrane, there is no such problem. Like a pool liner, the water from a rainstorm simply flows into the gutters and onto the absorbent pavers below.
The energy saved cooling the building is extensive. But this is not just a savings to OWC. It is a savings of energy that reduces our dependence on fuels of all kinds that generate power, and the savings is passive. Simply by having a white reflective roof, energy savings cascade throughout the system. Less air conditioning reduces the draw on the power plants on hot days because the building is cooler as a result of the white reflecting roof. And the excellent insulation value keeps helps keep the building at the right temperature, regardless of the season.
The orientation of the building to the sun maximizes energy efficiency. The windows take in the natural sunlight, reducing the energy needs during the day to light the interior. Pyrolytic glass helps filter out UV rays as well as reflecting away much of the sun's heat from the interior, again saving energy required to cool the workspace within.
Trees, often one of the most overlooked sources of "Green", provide shade for both for the building and for parked cars. It's a smart use of nature to cool things off, saving building electricity and automobile gasoline from reduced need for air conditioning. Another benefit is the fact that trees promote CO2 absorption.
In addition to the reduction of paints and sealant outgassing by careful choice of construction chemicals, there are additional roads to travel in the selection of Green materials. Eco-friendly building materials include those with high levels of recycled content, be they wood, plastic or steel.
A comprehensive recycling program has been expanded in new facility.
Carpets, rugs, padding - these are all items where applying Green Principles has a payback for everyone. OWC selected products which met certification criteria of the Carpet & Rug Institute's Green Label Emissions Test as part of its mission to reach Platinum LEED certification.