Development

EcoPlex

File Type: Free Content, Case study
Release Date: January 2010
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EcoPlex building

Fast Facts

Address: West Palm Beach, Florida
Company/Developer: Navarro Lowrey Inc.
Project Specs: Speculative
Project Type: Office building
Square Feet: 100,000 square feet

Project History: In 2005, Navarro Lowrey launched its Green Initiative, dedicated to construction of high-performance, energy-efficient, "green" office buildings that provide healthier, more productive workspace while significantly reducing the buildings' negative impact on the environment. EcoPlex, a $28 million Class "A" office building, is the Green Initiative's flagship property. The project was awarded LEED® Gold certification through the U.S. Green Building Council. It is one of the first multi-tenant "green" office buildings in Palm Beach County and among the largest to adopt sustainable building practices in Florida.

Commitment to Sustainability

The goal of the EcoPlex project was to conserve resources and secure a LEED rating. According to the developer, this goal helped to maintain a certain discipline about the entire process, from design through construction, and provide authentic validation that the project was green. So successful was the approach that Navarro Lowrey has trademarked EcoPlex, making it the label that people identify with the developer's interpretation of sustainability. Today the developer refers to EcoPlex as a "building with a conscience" - a structure that will enable a business to thrive in a responsible way, creating a healthy workplace that introduces conservation into a company's culture.

Green Features

Economic Analysis

  • As the project took shape, Navarro Lowrey sought to optimize the performance of the building and its occupants.
  • EcoPlex provides savings of up to 30 percent on variable operating expenses through the use of energy-efficient mechanical systems and cost-effective conservation methods.
  • Navarro Lowrey sought to demonstrate value to EcoPlex tenants. The underfloor air distribution system and demountable partitions enabled the developer to offer space that can contract or grow to meet changing tenant needs, eliminating the need to lease additional space for future growth.
EcoPlex office seating area

Site Sustainability/Materials Use 

  • EcoPlex was built with materials that contain more than 40 percent recycled content, ranging from the type of cement used throughout the structure to the ceiling tiles.
  • Concrete is infused with fly ash - a coal by-product traditionally considered waste – that reduces the amount of natural resources required to manufacture the concrete.
  • The building was developed in accordance with the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design system for core shell development, earning a Gold rating from the organization.
  • Construction remnants were preserved for recycling.

Energy Efficiency 

  • EcoPlex is distinguished by an array of high-performance, energy-saving systems that are not only environmentally friendly, but offer tenants first-year projected savings of about $.60 to $.80 per square foot in operating costs, a figure that will increase as energy costs continue to rise.
  • A Tate underfloor air distribution system raised the floor 16 inches above the slab to accommodate all tenant systems and wiring. The system delivers air at occupant level, conditioning just the occupied zone, and relies on natural convection, not fan power (and the associated energy costs), to rise to air vents at ceiling level, where the air leaves the space. As a result, air can be delivered at warmer temperatures (in this case 62 or 64 degrees rather than 55 degrees) than an overhead ventilation system, further reducing energy costs.
  • A highly reflective roof reduces hot spots and regulates temperature for significantly lower cooling costs
  • Oversized windows deliver abundant natural light, reducing energy costs while increasing the productivity of the office environment.
  • High-performance, rated glass in windows and doors further reduces costs associated with cooling the building.
  • Motion detectors provide better energy management.

Water Efficiency

  • EcoPlex will save two million gallons of water per year, and will be about 80 percent more efficient from a water-use perspective than a comparable non-green building.
  • A sophisticated rainwater recycling system captures water on the roof and directs it to four large cisterns, where it is stored and used to flush toilets.
  • A generous exterior plaza features a cascading natural "stream" to showcase the building's natural water filtration system, consisting of native coral rock and plant species.
  • A water retention and treatment pond on the EcoPlex campus supplies the water needed to cycle through the building's cooling tower, saving 5,000 to 10,000 gallons of water a day lost to evaporation.

Innovation

Protection from Florida's extreme weather was of primary concern. As a result, EcoPlex features:

  • 100 percent emergency power.
  • A solid concrete, steel-reinforced, tilt-up wall panel exterior.
  • A "large missile," high-impact, exterior window glazing system at all floor levels.

The raised floor distribution system throughout the building accommodates all tenant systems and wiring, including cooling and heating, electrical, data and phone systems, and features movable plug-and-play electric, data and ventilation boxes. The raised floor system is combined with a Haworth demountable dry wall partition system.

  • Together, these systems maximize the flexibility of the space, allowing tenants to move walls with ease.
  • These systems also reduce the amount of waste material typically associated with re-fitting a space for tenant use.
  • The system contributes to healthier indoor air because air is delivered at occupant level and doesn't mix with the air in the rest of the space. The system delivers low-velocity clean air to the building through a series of small, circular diffusers located in the floor plate. Employees can adjust the diffusers in each work station, improving comfort and productivity.

The building features 10-foot clear ceiling heights and efficient 25,000-square-foot, column-free floor plates.

In addition to design features that include nontoxic interior finishes for carpeting, flooring and furniture, the building offers these employee services:

  • An onsite fitness center with showers and lockers.
  • Bicycle storage and changing rooms.
  • Preferred parking for low-emitting and fuel-efficient vehicles.
  • A covered and connected five-level parking garage.

An exhibit that explains the building's green systems will be on display in the lobby and at the outdoor plaza.