Check out Sam Roudman’s article “Bank of America’s Toxic Tower” that appears in the latest issue of the New Republic. Roudman is a free lance writer who lives in New York and writes about environmental issues.
The Bank of America Tower — the subject of Roudman’s article — is the first skyscraper to earn the USGBC’s LEED-platinum rating. It has been hailed as “the most environmentally-responsible high-rise office building.” Yet when NYC energy benchmarking data were released last November we learned that the Bank of America building used more than twice as much energy per square foot than does, for instance, the 80-year old Empire State Building.
This is a very interesting post. I was called in by Durst, during design, to present a seminar on the costs and benefits of “underfloor air distribution systems.” The architect got so mad he left the room. The architect was claiming that UFAD would “save” 25% energy! I warned that, thermodynamically, there was no savings. Moreover, the thermal and air quality conditions would not be as acceptable as more conventional HVAC systems. They went ahead with the UFAD, anyway.
Do you have access to the actual energy consumption or any other building performance data for this building?
The only data that I have on this building is what was released by NYC as part of its public benchmarking data in November 2012. The building is listed as having 2.2 million sf, a site EUI of 213 kBtu/sf and source EUI of 360 kBtu/sf. It also has an annual green house gas emission of 30.8 million kg of CO2-equiv.
A large percentage of the EUI may be for data processing equipment in building. There is a trading floor in it! We really need to know more than the EUI to make sense of the data.
No doubt you are right about the trading floor — and Roudman mentions that in his article.
Of course, one of the most interesting things about this building is that it is a Platinum building provided with almost an unlimited budget and support for LEED and alleged design activity for delivering real energy and other performance. If a building with this much money thrown at it can’t make it work, what confidence can we have in the other claims regarding LEED buildings?
I did a construction tour of this project – here are a few observations:
The only insulation I saw was around the cold storage unit in the basement.
It had perimeter air, underfloor air and plenum air.
It had 52 floors of double pane glass (floor to ceiling) with interior glass partitions for inward light transmittance.
It also had a cogeneration unit that significantly contributed to LEED certification.
A beautiful building design
Lloyd Alter takes exception to Sam Roudman’s article on the Bank of America Tower in the “Tree Hugger.” You’ll find the article here:
Sam Roudman has responded to Lloyd Alter’s criticisms of his article on the Bank of America Tower. You’ll find Sam’s response at
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