High Performance Materials and Sustainability
The project’s sustainability begins with its site selection, a "brownfield"
site, property that had evolved into a landfill after serving as a shale mine. As
a result of this landfill, the building was sited on the only available non-filled
location and oriented to maximize solar benefits as best as possible. Also, underground
leachate collection and methane collection systems alleviate below grade toxic substances
from the landfill. The transformation from what was an unusable site is further
realized by the inclusion of xeriscaping and an indigenous landscaping scheme largely
designed and implemented by DEP employees.
The Green Team also focused on maximizing the use of high performance sustainable
building materials for the project. Nominally, selection criteria was based on substantial
recycled content, and/or the recyclability of the material itself. In the case of
virgin materials, the product’s renewability as a resource was considered;
however, looking beyond the project’s microenvironment, more "global" concerns
were also considered in terms of limiting the environmental impact of the materials’
production process. In other words, product selection criteria included considerations
of waste elimination and energy consumption in their fabrication. Noteworthy examples
of such products specified for this project include:
Knoll Modular Systems Partitions: In 1994 Knoll received The Pennsylvania Governor’s
Award for outstanding programs in waste elimination and reduction. The East Greenville,
Pennsylvania manufacturing facility is 65.5% below Pennsylvania’s stringent
standards for VOC emissions. Additionally, the specified panel fabric is made from
100% post-consumer recycled plastic PEC soda bottles and out-performs conventional
fabric from the standpoint of durability and ease of cleaning.
Haworth (Casework and Furniture): Haworth has continuously made significant advances
in sustainability with aggressive programs to utilize wood products from certified
sustainable forests and to eliminate VOC’s and waste. Their products also
maximize recycled and recyclable packaging and shipping materials made from 80%
post-consumer content. A participant in the EPA’s 33/50 program to reduce
toxic chemicals, their manufacturing plant includes an on-site material recovery
Interface Flooring Systems: Chairman and CEO, Ray Anderson, has become one of America’s
leaders in industrial sustainability by targeting zero waste and zero resource consumption
company-wide. Between 1994 and 1998 alone, his company has already reduced waste
and use of raw materials by more than 35%, saving Interface Inc. 76 million dollars;
Interface carpet tiles are 100% recyclable and are manufactured with antimicrobials
in order to eliminate VOC’s.
J & J Industries (Broadloom Carpet): Recipient of multiple awards in recognition
of their environmental efforts, including first place in 1996 "Keep America Beautiful"
national awards; J & J carpet is nearly 100% recyclable.
Terra-Green (Lobby Floor Ceramic Tiles): Manufactured with no toxic substances or
waste, these tiles consist of 70% recycled post-industrial and post-consumer glass
in a ceramic matrix.
ECORE International cork tiles, manufactured locally and used as wall finishes,
are made from cork oak tree bark that, after removal, regrows completely with no
harm to the trees.
DesignTex chair fabric designed by William McDonough: Made from wool and plant fibers
with dyes that are so toxic-free that the water used for post-dyeing rinses is potable,
thereby minimizing waste water, and fabric scraps are used to fertilize local strawberry
Horst, Inc. and Phenix Biocomposites (Wheat Straw and Environ Biocomposite Wall
Panels): Manufactured from a combination of agricultural soy bean/soy waste stocks
and recycled paper products. Environ, a wood-like, durable material used for wainscoting
in this building, is a revolutionary material, unique to the industry as the only
product of its kind to use entirely non-petrochemical based binders.
Nu-Core: Recycled structural steel.
Carlisle single-ply roofing membrane is mechanically fastened, thereby minimizing
the use of solvent based chemical adhesives.
Polomyx Paint: Solvent-fee water-based, non VOC-emitting paint.
MechoShade window blinds minimize solar heat gain while maintaining high levels
of visual access to exterior views.
Waterstop acrylic concrete sealer, (one of the few on the market that is non-petrochemically
based), eliminates off-gassing in the underfloor supply air plenum.
Recycled asphalt serves as the base course for all paved surface.
Enviro-Mulch, which is made from recycled construction debris, and recycled rubber
tire mulch are incorporated throughout the indigenous landscaping scheme.
- Many of these materials are integrated into the building’s lobby design. As
a result, visitors and uses are immediately informed about the building’s
environmentally friendly components. Consequently, the building itself becomes a
display/working exhibit of high-performance green technology and sustainability.