AAAS Building Earns LEED Platinum Status

The AAAS headquarters building in Washington D.C. has been recognized as a standout among green buildings. | @Timothy Hursley

AAAS has earned one of the highest marks awarded to existing green buildings: a LEED Platinum EB rating from the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

"This is evidence for the world of what we already know. Everyone at AAAS takes pride in our building," said Colleen Struss, AAAS' chief financial and legal officer. "It shows we are doing everything we can to pay attention to our environmental footprint."

"It's quite an accomplishment because of the age of the building, but the certification process was very smooth," said Michelle Good, director of sustainability at Akridge. The company developed the building for AAAS and continues to manage the property, which is located at 1200 New York Ave, N.W., in Washington D.C.

The LEED program provides an internationally recognized, independent verification of a building's performance with regard to energy savings, water efficiency, carbon emission reduction, and other measures of environmental impact. It recognizes four levels of green-building performance - certified, silver, gold, and platinum-level achievement - for excellence in new construction, commercial interiors, existing buildings and more. Buildings can score up to 110 LEED points in the certification process; buildings that score 80 or more points earn platinum-level status.

Extra windows and multi-level atria help reduce energy costs for the AAAS building. | @Timothy Hursley

AAAS headquarters has long been a standout among green buildings. Designed with environmental sustainability in mind by Pei Cobb Freed & Associates, the building incorporates a number of innovative strategies for conserving energy. For example, extra windows, multi-level atria and a pair of 10-story notches that cut vertically into the building substantially reduce the need for artificial lighting.

The AAAS building was recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council in 2009, when it became the first redeveloped structure in Washington D.C. to earn a gold LEED rating. At that time, AAAS had managed to reduce daily water consumption by 39% since 2007, and it was recycling nearly half of the solid waste generated in the building.

By 2013, when it came time to renew the building's LEED certification, AAAS and Akridge had made additional improvements to the building, including upgrading to a much more energy-efficient cooling system and using real-time energy management software to track and manage energy consumption. The association now offsets 100% of energy consumption through the purchase of Renewable Energy Credits and Carbon Offsets and saves 33% more water than the LEED baseline requires. Due to these and other advances, the building was recertified in November with a platinum rating, making it one of the few buildings of its kind in Washington DC to achieve this status.

In addition, LEED certification is a "wide-reaching program," reaching beyond energy consumption and recycling, according to Good. It also evaluates commuter patterns, worker comfort, indoor air quality. "It addresses all facets of sustainability," she said.

For example, AAAS was recognized for its indoor bike racks and its support of hybrid car users, car poolers and mass-transit users. About 85% of building occupants use alternative transportation, according to AAAS Building Manager Richard Conn.

"Platinum LEED certification is an important accomplishment for AAAS. It's good business, because it makes the building attractive for tenants, and it shows we're doing our part to be good corporate citizens," said Struss.

@Timothy Hursley