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The Ingalls Building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has a prominent place in architectural history as one of the first high-rise reinforced concrete structures in the world. The renovation of the building aimed to respect and restore its historic character, while at the same time making the building a leader for the twenty-first century by incorporating sustainability throughout the design.

The building was recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Environmental Design as a LEED® Gold building. There are four levels of LEED Certification that a project can achieve: Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum, with Platinum being the highest. Certification is based on several environmental goals established by the USGBC pertaining to six major categories: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Innovation in Design. There are also Regional Priority credits that give extra weight to strategies that are of particular local importance. As we explore the building, we will break down each of these areas and how we implemented green building strategies.

Location & Transportation

We achieved 14 out of a possible 16 points in this category.

The location and transportation category rewards thoughtful location, compact development, alternative transportation, and connection with amenities. As a historic building in Cincinnati’s downtown core, many of these points were a natural consequence of the building’s location. In particular, the building received maximum points for its density and access to public transportation. It also provides bicycle parking and shower facilities for guests and employees.

Sustainable Sites

We achieved 2 out of a possible 10 points in this category.

While the project’s dense, urban location has numerous advantages in terms of walkability and public transit, there is less opportunity for traditional site strategies such as native landscaping and rainwater management. Two important strategies we did incorporate were reducing the building’s contribution to urban heat island by specifying cool roofing materials and limiting light pollution by avoiding external lighting fixtures.

Water Efficiency

We achieved 7 out of a possible 11 points in this category.

The water efficiency category seeks to reduce the amount of potable water consumed in buildings. As a hotel, water use is significant—and also consumes significant energy through water heating. By using high-efficiency fixtures and equipment throughout the project, we were able to achieve a 35% reduction in water use over a baseline design. These measures include both the guestroom fixtures and water-efficient laundry and kitchen equipment. We also installed submeters for key systems in order to monitor water use and detect any problems early.

Energy & Atmosphere and Integrative Process

We achieved 15 out of a possible 33 points in the Energy & Atmosphere category and an additional 1 out of 1 possible point for implementing an Integrative Process.

Is a historic building necessarily inefficient? Not at all. The design team utilized whole building energy simulation starting early in design to investigate opportunities for improvements in both energy performance and water use. By incorporating new wall and roof insulation, new storm windows, high-efficiency mechanical systems, and water-efficient fixtures, we were able to reduce the building’s annual energy costs by 27% compared to a new building built to ASHRAE 90.1-2010 standards. In addition, a commissioning agent was engaged throughout the design and construction process. This ensures that the systems will operate as designed.

Materials & Resources

We achieved 8 out of a possible 13 points in this category.

One of the major benefits of reusing an existing building over building new is the avoided environmental impacts of new building materials—which account for an estimated 11% of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to Architecture 2030. For new materials used in construction, we incorporated products with Environmental Product Declarations—standardized disclosures that help design teams accurately account for the environmental impacts of building materials. We also minimized the amount of construction waste that was sent to landfills. Approximately 98% of all construction waste from the project was reused or recycled.

Indoor Environmental Quality

We achieved 5 out of a possible 16 points in this category.

Americans spend approximately 90 percent of our time indoors, so the quality of the indoor environment has a significant influence on our well-being, productivity, and quality of life. In order to improve our indoor air quality within this space, the HVAC system was designed to comply with ASHRAE Standard 62.1-2010. Outdoor airflow measurement devices were also installed. These devices are programmed to generate an alarm when the conditions vary by 15% or more from the design value. A construction air quality management plan was also implemented both during construction and before occupancy. Another way indoor air quality was improved was by utilizing low-emitting materials and by prohibiting smoking within 25 feet of all building entrances. The space also complies with ASHRAE 55 requirements, improving the thermal comfort of the building occupants. Finally, the building provides quality views to 92% of regularly-occupied spaces.

Innovation in Design

We achieved 5 out of a possible 6 points in this category.

The project received exemplary performance credits for its outstanding access to public transit and for the extent of quality views. We also received a credit for purchasing 100% LED lamps with no mercury, another for measures aimed at educating the public about green buildings (via measures like this one); and one for including a LEED Accredited Professional as part of the design team.

Regional Priority

We achieved 4 out of a possible 4 points in this category.

This category allows regions to elevation particular sustainable strategies based upon local priorities. We earned Regional Priority credits for providing excellent access to transit, reducing the overall impact of building materials through building reuse, reducing indoor water use, and diverting most construction waste from landfills.

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