The Smithsonian’s architects, planners and engineers have just taken a major leap in pursuit of sustainable design. Thirty-two staff from the Office of Planning and Project Management and the Office of Engineering, Design and Construction within OFEO have earned the distinction of becoming LEED accredited professionals. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is the internationally recognized rating system of the U.S. Green Building Council for developing high-performance buildings.
Photo: (Click on thumbnail for fullsize image.) The new National Museum of African American Art and Culture will be constructed according to LEED principles.
“A year ago, we challenged ourselves to make a giant step forward in sustainability,” Pedro Colon, OPPM project executive and chair of OFEO’s Sustainability Committee, says. “Then, we had four staff accredited…now we have 32.” The huge increase in obtaining the prestigious credential was the result of a training program put into action by OEDC design manager Alison Thibideau. Thibideau had been education coordinator at a private architectural firm before joining the Smithsonian. “I was so impressed at how quickly everyone embraced the course” and the grueling exam that is required for accreditation, Thibideau says. The 24 staff who took the LEED accreditation course inspired their colleagues. “Additional people started studying and taking the test on their own,” Colon says.
With this green certification tucked under their belts, staff will help the Smithsonian use construction strategies that improve energy savings, water efficiency, carbon dioxide emissions reduction, indoor environmental quality and stewardship of resources.
The effort is part of the larger picture of sustainable design envisioned in a Smithsonian directive adopted in 2005 that grew out of “a real grassroots movement on the part of the staff,” explains OEDC design manager Brenda Sanchez, a founding member of OFEO Sustainability Committee, and a driving force behind the directive. According to Sanchez, eight design and construction projects are underway that will achieve LEED certification, including the new building for the Museum of African American History and Culture, the new laboratory building at the Environmental Research Center, the renovation of the Arts and Industries Building, and several projects for the Museum of Natural History.
All future design and construction projects costing more than $2.5 million will be scrutinized at the outset as candidates for LEED certification, and SI now has plenty of accredited professionals to make sure it is achieved.
Posted: 3 August 2009