Tucked away in the forested suburbs north of New York City, the Hines/Morgan Stanley offices at 2000 Westchester are a prime example of not judging a building by its façade. From the outside, the building looks massive and rugged. It would not be out of place in a conversation about brutalist architecture of the 70s. When you pull your car up to the main entrance, four concrete stairwells stick out like turrets on a castle. This almost one million square foot behemoth dominates an otherwise placid 100 acre site, surrounded by native woodland. The fully enclosed vertical circulation wells visually create contrast to the long horizontal lines of recessed ribbon windows. However, inside its thick walls, this building is far from dull, outdated, or rigid.
Almost a quarter of the footprint sits under a three-story atrium that utilizes an active daylight harvesting system. This strategy supports occupant productivity in a dense open workspace while reducing the energy demand for artificial lighting. The rest of the building is illuminated with ultra-low mercury lamps. As part of the LEED process, SIG coached the management team in a major overhaul of light bulb purchasing strategies. Installing bulbs that are both low in energy demand and low in mercury earned the project exemplary performance for sustainable purchasing of materials and resources.
The remainder of the building footprint features open-air interior courtyards that allow line of sight views into lush vegetation-another productivity boosting feature. And it gets better. The courtyards also act as green roofs, covering the underground parking and earning points for reducing the heat island effect by avoiding surface parking lots. You may wonder what kind of cars are parking in this garage—green ones of course!
SIG’s consulting expertise shined while documenting alternative commuting habits, which helped the project earn nine points. Typically, suburban office parks have traditional commute patterns; driving alone in conventional vehicles. However, this building population is savvy enough to drive hybrid vehicles that are more fuel efficient and lower emitting than the conventional baseline.
The path to LEED certification began years ago in a conversation about, “How can we raise our EnergyStar score?” Buildings are not required to earn the EPA’s EnergyStar award to earn LEED certification, but it must benchmark its energy performance and earn a minimum score to be eligible for LEED certification. The LEED accredited professionals on the management team at 2000 Westchester knew that they needed to make some improvements to their energy performance before pursuing LEED certification, and sought the guidance of Sustainable Investment Group (SIG) to weave those goals together.
One at a time, capital improvement projects came online in creative designs. An ice-storage system provides cheap cool air to balance the high heat loads of computers and workers at peak hours. A fuel cell and 1 megawatt solar panel installation generate 3% of the buildings energy demand; earning the project a regional priority point for on-site renewable energy generation. Once those features were in place, SIG’s engineer team spent hours conducting ASHRAE level II energy audits on all equipment and systems to uncover even further energy conservation measures. This investment in existing building commissioning pushed the building into an efficiency level that made it not only eligible for LEED certification, but earned it a Silver plaque.
Sustainable Investment Group’s Role on this building:
LEED Certification Level: LEED® Silver
Energy Star Score: 74 (at time of LEED certification)
Total Square Feet: 867,305
SIG team members that worked on this project:
Fun facts about this building:
2000 Westchester Ave.
Purchase, NY 10577