It’s a story that I’m seeing more and more, although I’m not too sure we’re seeing a good thing. Nissan USA spends $100 M to build a brand new office building and plans for LEED Silver certification, but in the end, they decide to spend certification cash on the wetland "rather than have a plaque on the wall."# Certification gets dropped, but we should ask ourselves a serious question: Is LEED certification merely about the plaque? Is that the only benefit we see from LEED? Spending money to get a plaque?
I’m a skeptical type, and you probably already know my opinion. I think LEED is beneficial in that it forces projects to consider all aspects of the environment, including energy, water, materials, sourcing, land use, deconstruction, air quality, lighting, commissioning, etc. LEED provides a level of comfortability that a building meets certain environmental standards in all these areas (and not just one or two). But I’ll forgo an all-out discussion of LEED for a more thoughtful article to come.
Back to Nissan’s HQ. The building uses about 35% less energy than a baseline code compliant building. Nissan invested money in restoring the nearby wetland and also in the building shading system. The structure has a light harvesting system that changes the interior light output depending on the natural light coming in the building. And if you look at the image below, you’ll see that all the wiring and hvac is placed under the floor. That way, less air is wasted by being pushed down because it’s coming through the floor. Each workstation has individual temperature controls to adjust the air coming through the floor, too. Looks like a nice office building.