I was in New York late last year working with American consultants assisting me on a major Leed Platinum project in Kuala Lumpur. It was a chance to visit some ecologically responsible buildings, namely the Bank of America Tower (Leed Platinum, Architect Cook+Fox), the Hearst Tower (Leed Gold, Architect Foster+Partners) and the Visionaire (Leed Platinum, Architect Pelli Clarke Pelli).
Of course, these buildings between them employ appropriate choice of materials, highly insulated façade designs, grey water and rainwater harnessing and waste management, photovoltaic and sensored lighting.
Of note is the off-peak ice production in the Bank of America Tower, melted to cool the building during peak load times.
Of specific interest to me were the ‘engine room’ operations of these buildings. I was privileged to meet the respective in-house engineers, whose jobs include not just maintenance responsibilities, but the constant monitoring and tuning of energy systems. Their mission is to run their buildings with absolute minimum energy consumption and maximum systems efficiency. The electronic monitoring equipment they employ is sophisticated, and they’re passionately committed to maximum building performance. They’re unsung heroes actually. The experience reinforced to me the fact that the importance of ongoing building monitoring and operational astuteness to achieve optimal sustainability performance in commercial buildings is fundamental.
And by the way, for those visiting New York at some time, I stayed in a terrific boutique hotel called the Cooper Square Hotel which was located next to Thom Mayne’s Cooper Union building. I can certainly recommend staying in the hotel which was designed by Carlos Zapata and Thom’s building, although admission is difficult, is definitely worthy of a visit.