A commitment to energy efficiency and sustainability drove Wachovia Bank in Charlotte, N.C., to build the Southeast’s first LEED-Platinum Core and Shell building.

The building is the 51-story Duke Energy Center, and it’s part of a $1.3-billion cultural campus developed by Wachovia’s parent, Wells Fargo Co.

“We developed some pretty high-level, triple-bottom-line goals on people, profit and the planet, hanging on energy efficiency and how we could do things to stretch and reach,” says Curt Radkin, development director for the Corporate Properties Group at Wells Fargo.

The $390-million, 1.5-million-sq-ft, 51-story Duke Energy Center is the first building to receive LEED-Platinum under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Core and Shell Version 2.0 rating system. One Bryant Park in New York, the Bank of America headquarters, received Platinum certification under the USGBC’s Core and Shell pilot test version.

“The Duke Energy Center’s LEED Platinum certification shows a huge commitment to the environment and the health, comfort and well-being of the [tenants’] employees and customers,” USGBC spokeswoman Taryn Holowka in Washington, D.C., says in an email.

Landing at Platinum

Wachovia/Wells Fargo set out for LEED Silver and perhaps Gold certification, and for about a year it discussed options and counted points with tvsdesign of Atlanta, Batson-Cook Construction of Atlanta and developer Childress Klein Properties of Charlotte. After the bank adopted its triple-bottom-line goals, the team refocused.

“We stopped worrying about the LEED credits and started worrying about energy efficiency,” Radkin said. “The end result of that work effort landed us in platinum, without that being the target.”

The team continually sought additional sustainable elements.

“It was less about chasing points and more about what we can do to make it a good building,” says Susie Spivey-Tilson, senior associate and manager of the sustainable design studio at tvs. “Energy efficiency and water efficiency are the two ways a LEED project can validate the potential cost of making a building sustainable and environmentally friendly.”

The curtain-wall glazing system incorporates a system of automated sun-tracking blinds that reflect the sun’s rays and bounce natural daylight as far into the building as possible. The system also uses two types of glass—vision glass at the bottom 6 ft, 6 in. of each floor and clearer glass at the top 2 ft to let in as much light as possible into the workspace.

Ceiling sensors monitor when sunlight enters the building and will automatically dim the electric lights. The building will be 22% more efficient than a conventional project.

“From the exterior, you don’t see any difference,” says Curt Rigney, project manager for Batson-Cook. “But there is a difference that allows in more light.”

The team insulated ductwork all the way to the perimeter, allowing delivery of colder air and reducing the power requirements for the air-handling system.

Duke Energy Center collects and filters rain and ground water from the site and some neighboring parcels, and air-conditioner condensate in a 400,000-gallon cistern 115-ft below street level and the eight-level below-grade, 2,500-car parking deck.

The water is reused as cooling-tower make-up water and for irrigation of landscaping, the green roof and a neighboring park. The system will collect 1.6 million gallons of stormwater per year.

Low-flow fixtures reduce water use by more than 46%. The team estimates the building will avoid purchasing 30 million gallons of water each year.

Childress Klein requires all tenants to achieve LEED for Commercial Interiors certification. The base building contributes more than 80% of the credits and prerequisites the tenants need to achieve certification.

Designer tvs says it’s the first commercial project in the country to seek whole-building LEED certification. Duke Energy is leasing about 22 floors in the tower.

“Corporate people drive the market,” adds Gene Montezinos, a principal with tvs. “The Platinum certification becomes an advertisement for Wells Fargo and the developer to bring in tenants, and of course, they will want to LEED certify their own spaces. That’s why they chose this building.”

Useful Source

• Duke Energy Center http://www.dukeenergycenter.info