Anixter, a leading global supplier of communication and security products, is a staple name in the communications industry. But here are some things industry insiders may not know: More than 50 of the company’s global locations have installed high-efficiency lighting systems that include automatic scheduling, intensity-controlled ballasts, and motion detectors; the company was at the forefront of LEED certification when 10 years ago it certified its largest global location, designed by Heitman Architects in Alsip, Illinois; and it followed with a LEED Silver-certified 195,000-square-foot facility in Edmonton, Alberta. Anixter’s latest and greatest green accomplishment is in another of its own facilities: an addition to its corporate headquarters in Glenview, Illinois.
When it came time to move forward on plans for building a 61,000-square-foot annex to house several global operations teams, Ken Hagaman, director of real estate at Anixter, knew to reach out to Clayco, a national full-service design-build construction company who had assisted Hagaman and his team in achieving LEED certification for its Alsip warehouse. “We had a great working relationship with Clayco, and as we began planning for the annex in 2012, we knew we would turn to them for this project,” Hagaman says. “It was going to be a very tight deadline, and we knew from the start we would be pursuing LEED certification on the annex. It was short-term stress for long-term success.”
That “tight deadline” was an eight-month turnaround. Construction began in August 2012 and everything was set to be completed—with employees moved into their offices—by March 2013. Using BIM software not only helped to expedite the process, but Kevin McKenna, Clayco’s senior vice president and partner, says that finalizing the design prior to construction using the 3-D model was actually the greenest aspect of the entire project. “You completely minimize all risk by mapping out the lighting efficiency, the design, the electrical work—you map out every detail in real time, and this has an extraordinary impact on the savings and reduction of waste,” McKenna says. “It’s a win-win, both for Anixter and the environment, and I truly believe this is the most sustainable thing you can do. If you’re not using BIM, you’re far behind the curve.”
McKenna wanted to make the annex a cohesive part of the campus so the employees wouldn’t feel like they were relegated to a particular area. It was obviously a separate structure, but the goal was to use luxurious finishes and integrate the buildings using similar design. The annex’s skin is exposed aggregate precast concrete that has been acid washed, which makes it look like brown and red marble. Precast concrete was also used as the building’s main structural component, which is not only more affordable, but concrete has a natural cooling affect. “We didn’t want the annex to feel like sitting in a tin box,” McKenna says. “The phrase I kept using for the project was ‘separate but inclusive.’ Because it’s sustainable and will have LEED certification, the features are different from the main building, but the annex is equally as beautiful and well-designed.”
The annex features top-of-the-line sustainable elements, including a Daintree wireless control lighting system that is tied in with the building automation system. Occupancy sensors are a large part of the smart design, enabling lights to shut off when the sensors don’t detect movement in certain areas. All of the lighting can also be controlled remotely from a laptop or smartphone. The lighting system administrator can even adjust the building’s light levels depending on the time of day or the season. McKenna estimates that the lighting system will save Anixter up to 70 percent on costs.
Similar technology is in place for the Philips Teletrol heating, ventilation, and HVAC system. McKenna says the automation system is standard in LEED-certified buildings and uses sensors to make heating and cooling adjustments. “None of this would have been possible without a team effort,” McKenna says. “There is a commitment to sustainability and quality at Anixter that goes from the bottom all the way up to the CEO. This is what it’s all about: cultivating relationships, minimizing risks, achieving the goal, and being good to the environment along the way.”