AIR's Austin office is located in the Town Center of the Mueller Development in Austin, Texas. Opened in December 2007, the building was designed to meet a silver-level Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. It also meets the design standards for the Mueller community. These standards relate to setbacks off of property lines, height limitations, building materials, and planting materials.
The LEED certification is a third-party certification program that rates buildings on nationally accepted benchmarks for design, construction, and operation of high-performance green buildings. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by rating performance in five key areas of human and environmental health:
- Sustainable site development (includes controlling erosion and sedimentation during construction; preventing air pollution with dust and particulate matter; protecting habitat and wetlands; and providing amenities that support alternative transportation
- Water savings
- Energy efficiency
- Materials selection
- Indoor environmental quality
LEED rating systems are available for new construction, existing buildings, schools, health-care facilities, homes, and neighborhood development. Points are awarded for different factors under each of the five key areas.
The building met the LEED requirements in the following ways:
AIR's Austin office provides amenities that support alternative transportation, including bicycle racks, showers, and special parking for hybrid and electric cars.
The company adopted several approaches to conserve water, including the following:
- Low-flow toilets and urinals
- Aerators on faucets
- Reclaimed water for irrigation of site planting
- Native plants for landscaping
The building’s lighting, among other elements, was designed to conserve energy. The lighting design includes the following:
- Glazing in perimeter office walls enables daylight or natural light to permeate from the building perimeter to the central core. This design enables interior, or “land-locked,” offices to receive natural light and, thus, requires less energy to light interior spaces.
- Dual switching controls the number of lamps powered within a fixture, which enables users to customize their light level. Because of the amount of natural light within the building, little to no lighting may be needed, depending on the weather and time of year.
- Site and exterior lighting is nonpollutant, meaning no light is expressed upward or outward from the building. Rather, exterior lighting is focused on the building or ground elements.
In addition to the lighting, other energy-efficiency elements include the following:
- A white and reflective roof, which reduces solar heat gain so that heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems do not need to work as hard to cool the facility
- Low-emittance (Low-E) windows, which are coated with microscopically thin metal or metallic oxide layers that reduce the U-factor (rate of heat loss) by suppressing radiative heat flow
- Use of Austin Energy’s chilled water loop, which runs throughout the Mueller Development, to enable AIR to lock in affordable rates for service and save money while also saving energy
Rapidly Renewable Resources
The builder used materials such as bamboo and Marmoleum, both of which come from rapidly renewable resources. Bamboo was used for the wood paneling, the lobby stairs, and the wood veneer on the wooden doors, walls, and ceilings. Bamboo is the fastest-growing woody plant in the world and when treated, forms a very hard wood that is both lightweight and exceptionally durable.
Marmoleum was used as the flooring product in the break rooms and print/copy rooms. Made from linseed oil, rosin, wood flour, jute, and ecologically responsible pigments, Marmoleum has no harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and is installed with solvent-free adhesive. It also is allergen-free and has natural bactericidal properties, which prevent microorganisms from multiplying.
Wherever possible, we specified products that are recyclable. These products include the concrete used in the tilt wall panels. This concrete contains fly ash, which is residue generated in the combustion of coal. Also, during construction, unused glass and concrete products were put in separate dumpsters, which were then hauled to recycling facilities, where load sizes were documented. These documented amounts helped AIR achieve credit toward LEED certification.
Indoor Air Quality
We specified products that are nontoxic and promote healthy indoor air quality. These products include the following:
- Sherwin-Williams Harmony® paint, which contains no VOCs
- Adhesives and sealants that contain few or no chemicals that negatively affect the air quality
- Carpet tile that requires no backing or adhesives to install