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Banking On Leed

At last year’s Green Build Conference in Denver, the USGBC announced the Portfolio Program, a one-year pilot that commits large-scale corporations to adopting LEED building practices by bulk certifying comparable buildings. Participants commit 25 buildings, or two million square feet, for LEED certification; both new construction and retrofit projects are eligible. The corporations develop green prototypes for standardized use with USGBC incentives such as discounts on the LEED certifications, customized training, and educational resources. The program launched with commitments from the University of Florida, Starbucks, Toyota, the University of California, Santa Barbara, and HSBC.

While the number of participants is limited in the first year of this program, which runs until the end of 2007, new LEED certified buildings are already debuting. The London-based international banking giant HSBC has opened its first LEED Gold certified branch in Greece, New York. The building is carbon neutral thanks to geothermal heating and cooling, solar panels, and energy purchased from a wind farm. Rainwater captured from the roof is used for restroom operations and watering the landscape. Indoor lights dim in response to sunshine and the glowing sign uses LEDs. Rapidly renewable materials used on the interior include bamboo flooring and wheat and corn-based products.

John Beckinghausen, VP and Director of Environmental Sustainability for HSBC North America, explains that with this prototype in place, the company will open 24 new LEED certified branches over the next four years. While some projects may take over existing buildings, all will be new branches as part of an expansion project. While green features of the Greece prototype will be repeated, the company is not establishing a standardized aesthetic for the designs, which will appear all around the country. A new 460,000-square-foot HSBC headquarters building in Chicago will also seek LEED certification; the five-story office tower is being designed by Wright Architects in Chicago.

Previously, the time and expense of applying for LEED certification has prevented corporations from green “volume building,” but for now volume certification seems to have captured the banking world’s attention. PNC Bank opened its first LEED facility in Pittsburgh in 2000, and now boasts a Gensler- designed prototype. The company already has 45 LEED certified buildings and 18 more waiting for certification. Citi has plans to retrofit a bulk of projects for LEED certification and will soon complete a 15-story building in Queens featuring a stormwater recycling system, energy-efficient fixtures, and day-lit work

Sarah F. Cox