One Oak Park in Houston doesn’t look particularly green. That’s because most of its eco-friendly elements are hard to see, including the fact that its zones are metered separately so that systems don’t run unnecessarily; each floor can be “turned on” by itself. Peyton Collins, managing director of the Texas region for commercial real estate firm Means Knaus Partners, explains what is sustainable on the LEED Gold office property.
What are some of the sustainable features that make this building unique?
We configured the building so parts could be used separately. The air-conditioning is set up, for example, so you can run one floor. We also metered all of the 110-volt equipment in the space including the lights. So, if a tenant wants to use the building after hours, we don’t have to turn the whole building on. We turn on the parts that are used and charge only the tenant using them for the energy.
You saved 300 oak trees during development. How did you do that?
There were 300 oak trees in an outer circle surrounding the Haliburton building on the south end of the park. They needed to be removed to create a more efficient land plan, so we took those 300 trees and relocated them throughout the park at the major intersections. We won a couple of awards for doing that.
What were some challenges you found along the way while working on this project?
In our LEED category, only 50 percent of the skin can be glass unless you want to use a high-efficiency glass, which is cost prohibitive. In leasing spaces, you want as much glass as possible for light. By reducing the height of our glass, we were still able to provide floor-to-ceiling glass in many areas of the building.
What sustainable features get the best response?
People don’t even see a lot of things you put into a building to get LEED certified, but tenants like the sophistication of the building. When you walk in, our 10-foot revolving door reveals artistic accents, including European wood acoustical panels from the Black Forest. They’re made from sustainable wood, but tenants probably notice the beauty. We have a state-of-the-art fitness center with locker rooms and all low-flow and auto-flushing plumbing fixtures, but tenants probably notice the showers. And we have an outdoor courtyard landscaped with plants that don’t need excessive water, like natural grasses, but tenants probably notice the wireless Internet.