The Christman Building

The Christman Building

SmithGroup JJR
Lansing, United States | View Map
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Courtesy of The Christman Company

The Christman Building

U.S. Green Building Council as Researchers

The Christman Building is the world’s first triple-Platinum LEED project, adding LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance to its Core & Shell and Commercial Interiors certifications.

The Christman Building is the world’s first triple-Platinum LEED project, adding LEED for Existing Buildings to its Core & Shell and Commercial Interiors certifications. This 1928 landmark building, on the National Register of Historic Places, is located in the heart of Lansing, Michigan, near the state capitol. This grand old building’s new lease on life was accomplished in a 2007 major renovation through a commitment to sustainable, green historic preservation. This office building has six floors, is occupied by three major tenants, and is owned by The Christman Company. There are approximately 70 regular occupants.

In January 2009, The Christman Company executive team committed to expanding current green housekeeping and recycling programs to a comprehensive green operations company-wide program. Given that the Christman Building had achieved the world’s first double-platinum LEED certification, the bar was already set very high. The decision was made “to be as green as we could be.” The LEED for Existing Buildings rating system was chosen as a guide to greening the headquarters building operations, and all company operations, and then to use the certification process as a test of our success, with a goal of attaining a third Platinum. As the building was already LEED-certified, significant progress had been made in the areas of sustainable sites, water efficiency, and indoor environmental quality, setting the stage for LEED for Existing Buildings certification.

Going into the process, we knew that improvements could still be made in materials purchasing, energy efficiency, carbon footprint management, and documentation of all sustainable building activities. Re-commissioning and other analyses conducted during the process revealed opportunities to adjust HVAC, lighting, IT equipment, snow removal, cleaning and other systems to maximize green performance. A re-commissioning process was used to ensure that all components and the entire HVAC system were operating per the design. All controls were calibrated, their operation verified, and thorough component and system level functional checks were completed. Fine tuning of schedules and sequences of operation were also implemented. The lighting systems were also investigated and unnecessary night lighting was eliminated.

To implement the sustainable purchasing policies, materials with recycled content, rapidly renewable and regional origins were purchased whenever possible. We identified local food vendors who committed to supplying the building with locally grown and/or USDA Organic certified food for lunches and catered events. Snow and ice removal operations were changed to replace the use of salt with magnesium chloride to reduce environmental impact. Although a green cleaning program was already in place, the cleaning contractor was encouraged to move to the next level to comply with the even stricter standards set in the Christman Building Green Cleaning Policy.

The ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager is used for benchmarking natural gas, electricity and water use. The building currently has an ENERGY STAR rating of 81, putting it in the top 20th percentile of office buildings in the country. This is a great accomplishment for an historic building with minimal envelope insulation.

Site context

The project is situated in a densely developed urban setting among office and retail space on the major street that passes in front of the nearby state capitol building. The firm selected a previously developed brownfield site, a landmark building which had fallen into functional obsolescence and disrepair. This offered an excellent opportunity to showcase green historic preservation at a cost no greater than conventional design and construction practices. The original building housed an insurance company that insured many of Michigan's grain mills. Numerous millstones from those mills had been incorporated in the sidewalk in front of the building. These were carefully extracted when the sidewalk was replaced and are now featured in the narrow band of landscaping along the front facade. The preservation of this landmark building has made a substantial contribution to Lansing's downtown revitalization. The use of a brownfield site avoided creating urban sprawl. Its location in the heart of downtown provides pedestrian access to community services, reducing the use of fossil fuel transportation. Transportation alternatives include five bus lines connecting to all parts of the metropolitan area.

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