The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standard of building is an initiative by the United States Green Building Council that aims to reduce the high consumption of energy by buildings and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. According to Gurgun, et al. (2016), buildings are accountable for 30-40% of all energy consumption worldwide and the release of about 20% of global greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. The LEED guidelines and certification seeks to reduce the cost of construction on the climate by using environmentally friendly construction materials and harnessing natural energy for use in buildings. The Bank of America tower at One Bryant Park in New York City is one of the biggest LEED undertakings in America and the world. Build with the aim of creating the world's most environmentally responsible high-rise, the Bank of America Tower was environmentally friendly from its conceptualization, during construction, and as a finished piece of prime real estate in New York City. In this paper, we shall evaluate the methodologies and strategies implemented in the pre-construction, construction, and utilization of the building to make it LEED compliant.
According to Guduri, Devineni, and Manchikatla (2009), the Bank of America Tower was built mainly from recycled material sourced from within 80 kilometers of the site. The use of recycled materials close to the site helped to clean up millions of cubic meters of waste scrap metal while also cutting the transportation cost to the environment. The concrete mix for the slabs used in the building's construction contained 55% cement and 45% slag, a significantly lower cement intake than in other buildings of the same caliber. With the manufacturing of cement being a large contributor to the emission of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the Bank of America Tower's use of slag prevented 53 million tons of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere.
Another pre-construction strategy that went into making the Bank of America Tower incredibly energy efficient was the designing of just 54 floors for the 1200 feet building (Guduri et al., 2009). In comparison, the Empire State Building, just 50 feet more, has 48 floors more. The lower story count results from the building's thicker floors and carpet-to-ceiling separation, creating more effective air circulation and reducing the need for artificial air circulation, a requirement for green buildings (Mousa & Farag, 2016). The thick floors also facilitate more space for mechanical systems such as air circulation ducts, which were designed to operate from the floor rather than the ceiling to take advantage of the rising quality of heated used air and minimize energy use in chilling cold air and pumping out the used warm air.
With its 53rd-floor air intake, purification, and ejection of excess purified air into the streets, the Bank of America Tower will be responsible for the purification rather than the pollution of air in Manhattan (Guduri et al., 2009). The regulation of air temperatures is the most energy-demanding requirement for large buildings. Developers at the Bank of America Tower ensured that the building was energy sufficient by designing an ice battery system of making and storing ice during off-peak hours and using the ice for cooling in the hotter days. The building's walls, made of insulated glass, reduce the heating effects of the sun's rays and thermal radiation warming. Being transparent, the glass removes the need for artificial lighting in many parts of the building, and where artificial light is used, automatic sensors dim lights during the day and in unoccupied rooms to save on energy consumption.
According to Al-Kodmany (2016), the use of water is one area where buildings have the greatest impact on the surrounding, including the local water grid and air water. Conservation of water is essential for a building to become energy and environmentally efficient. The Bank of America Tower substitutes water in men's urinals with Falcon Waterfree flushless urinals that save about 3 million gallons of water annually. A water harvesting system was also installed to collect condensation on the buildings air control system. The water harvesting system collects and stores water in strategically located tanks within the building to reduce the power required to pump it to users on different floors.
On energy use, studies show that 70% of energy from grid-connected buildings is wasted in the transition from the original fuel source (Gurgun et al., 2016). At the Bank of America Tower, much of the electricity to be used in the building, about 80%, will come from a 5.1-megawatt natural gas-powered power plant on the ground floor (Guduri et al., 2009). The power plant serves the dual purpose of fulfilling the building's energy requirements and increasing the effective use of natural resources at and around the building. Minimizing the amount of energy used within the building influenced several decisions on water, air, and lighting, ensuring that less power would be needed to provide the three essentials by using sound pre-construction strategies.
Finally, the design of the building ruled out vehicle access and completely did away with parking facilities within the building. Instead, its location near subway station facilitates travel by train for employees and visitors to the building (Guduri et al., 2009). When it is necessary for visitors and employees at the Bank of America Tower to take a car, a hybrid fleet of OZO car serves their needs. To encourage environmentally sustainable means of transport, bike racks and free shower access is provided for people who cycle to the Bank of America Tower. According to Al-Kodmany (2014), the medium used for transportation to and from a building plays a huge role in determining its environmental sustainability.
The Bank of America Tower has not been without controversy. Soon after its official launch, the building faced massive criticism for what was reported as energy guzzling. A New York City report stated that the building used more energy than the older and bigger Empire State building, and many reporters wrote criticizing the LEED and calling for the demotion of the building from its Platinum certification. In defense, the LEED stated that it cannot regulate the use of a building after construction, pointed out that the construction of Bank of America Tower complied with its standards, and that much of the energy consumed at the building is produced in their own power station and doesn't draw from the main grid.
In conclusion, the Bank of America Tower was made sustainable through pre-construction planning, construction methodologies, and utilization strategies. Planning the building to be located near a subway station, close to green space at Bryant Park improved air circulation, and removed the need for visitors and employees to use motor vehicles. The construction used recycled material, reducing earth fill around the city, and from close to the site to reduce pollution through transportation of raw materials. The designing of fewer, taller stories improved air circulation through natural convention, and thicker floors made artificial air circulation more energy efficient. Finally, the utility strategies that contribute to the Bank of America Tower's LEED conformity include water harvesting, the use of natural light, and an on-site power station.
Al-Kodmany, K. (2014). Green retrofitting skyscrapers: A review. Buildings, 4(1), 683-710, DOI: 10.3390/buildings4040683
Gurgun, A. P., Polat, G., Damci, A., & Bayhan, H. G. (2016). Performance of LEED energy credit requirements in European countries. Procedia Engineering, 164(2) 432-438, DOI: 10.1016/j.proeng.2016.11.641
Mousa, R. A., & Farag, A. A. (2016). The applicability of LEED of New Construction (LEED-NC) in the Middle East. Procedia Environmental Sciences, 37(1), 572-583, DOI: 10.1016/j.proenv.2017.03.044
Guduri, A. K., Devineni, B., & Manchikatla, R. (2009). Sustainable green features of Bank of America Tower, NY. Proceedings of the 2009 ASEE Gulf-Southwest Annual Conference, Baylor University
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