This downtown five-story building and brownfield site provided an excellent candidate for a milestone green and historic preservation project, and clearly demonstrated that constructing a high-performance building does not have to cost more than conventional.
The Christman Building is the world's first triple-Platinum LEED project, recently (in 2010) adding LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance to its Core and 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. The decision by The Christman Company, a leading construction management and real estate development firm, then 114 years old, to relocate its national headquarters for the first time in 80 years, addressed Christman’s need for additional space and demonstrated its commitment to integrated and sustainable design and construction, to historic preservation, and to the downtown revitalization of the company’s home city.
This downtown five-story building and brownfield site provided an excellent candidate for a milestone green and historic preservation project. Using an integrated design and construction process, the firm set out to make it an example of sustainable redevelopment at the same cost as conventional practices. The Christman Building provides Class A office space for two major tenants, as well as serving as the national headquarters for The Christman Company. The building is occupied by approximately 70 people on a daily basis.
This project clearly demonstrated that constructing a high-performance building does not have to cost more than conventional construction. For the LEED for Core and Shell project, the costs associated with achieving LEED certification represented 1.3% of the total budget. Two-thirds of those LEED costs were related to the certification process. For the LEED for Commercial Interior project, the costs associated with achieving green goals represented 0.70% of the total budget; of those green costs, 95% were related to LEED certification.
Another major goal and success of the project was to demonstrate the synergy that develops when historic preservation and sustainable design and construction are combined. The project also succeeded in clearly showing that a dilapidated, obsolescent building could be transformed into a vibrant, healthy office environment with lots of daylighting and views, increased ventilation, and improved comfort conditions - all in a very energy-efficient manner.
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 façade. 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.