Oak Park Public Works Building Striving for LEED Silver
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There are always unexpected challenges when designing buildings. Oftentimes the
wants and needs of the owner change, and one project transforms into another
that is completely different, full of its own new challenges. In the case of the
Village of Oak Park Public Works building, plans changed overnight due to a
devastating fire that destroyed the existing facility. The project changed from
the renovation of and addition to the existing buildings to starting fresh by
designing one large facility that would encompass all the needs of Oak Park,
with an appearance that fit in the historic community. Holabird & Root was ready
for the challenge.
Since the site is located in the middle of a residential neighborhood, outreach
meetings were held with members of the community to discuss issues concerning
the project. Not only were storage and maintenance facilities needed, but also
offices for the 85 to 90 individuals necessary to keep the community up and
running. Those who had been living near the public works building before the
fire expressed concerns about safety, noise, light spill, exhaust fumes, and
unsightly industrial functions. Residents also voiced concerns about the
building’s aesthetics, suggesting that the new design should reflect the 1920s
style of homes in the neighborhood. Many residents spoke about sustainable
building practices, encouraging the Village of Oak Park to construct a "green"
building capable of achieving LEED® certification. The Department of Public
Works was already interested in building a more energy-friendly building, having
previously conducted research on financial aid and grants that were available to
offset the cost of designing and constructing an energy-efficient building. The Village was
awarded a $100,000 grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation,
with the stipulation that the project must apply for LEED certification, while
also achieving a 25% increase in its energy efficiency. There were many
requirements the building had to meet in order to achieve a LEED Silver rating,
including a restored brownfield site, recycled content and low-VOC construction
material, and a reflective roof with green roof portions. The new
155,000-square-foot facility also needed to achieve energy optimization at 32.7%
better than ASHRAE Standard 90.1-1999, as well as keep more than 87% of
construction waste from landfills. Holabird & Root gathered their in-house team
of LEED-accredited design professionals and studied the initial concepts for the
building. The team then considered each component of the LEED checklist to
determine which points were attainable, and then continued to use the checklist
as a guide for the duration of the project. It was determined that the building’s design would meet
the requirements for LEED Silver certification under LEED-NC version 2.1. If
awarded the Silver certification, it will be the first municipal public works
facility in Illinois to earn this level of LEED certification.
After the goal was set for the project to achieve at least 33 of 69 possible
LEED points, environmental consultants were on site to aid with demolition and
site preparation, ensuring the contaminated soils were removed to a remediation
site. This project qualifies for a brownfield redevelopment point under the
Sustainable Sites category of LEED NC.
conservation was the main focus as the building systems began to take shape, and
it became clear that a simple 100% outside air system would use vast amounts of
energy. To reduce the amount of airflow, Holabird & Root designed a system
capable of reducing the amount of air that circulated through the space based on
containment levels. The ventilation system was designed to monitor the amounts
of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen dioxide, as well as reduce the
airflow so the indoor air quality remained safe for workers. Incorporating heat
recovery into the system also proved to be key in reducing the amount of energy
used, with energy recovery units designed to extract heat from the exhaust
airstream and then transfer that heat indoor. Holabird & Root worked with the
custom air handling unit manufacturer, Johnson-Marcraft, to design custom energy
recovery units for the building. These units proved to be the main factor in
energy savings for the facility.
cavity wall’s R-value, meaning the ability to resist heat, is over 1000% higher
than required by ASHRAE; with its U-value, the rate of heat loss, it is almost
10% more efficient than the ASHRAE requirement. A 10,000-square-foot GreenGrid®
roof garden installed by Weston Solutions reduced storm water run off and
provides window glazing, inventive light design, and heat recovery units, which
resulted in a new facility that performs 15% better than was required by the
Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation grant. Six LEED points were earned in
the Energy and Atmosphere category as a result.
Occupancy sensors were installed throughout the facility to continue the
conservation of energy. Sensors were installed to turn off the lights after a
space is vacant for fifteen minutes, and sensors in the administration offices
were connected to the Building Automation System to limit the amount of airflow
to unoccupied spaces. Energy conservation was a concern when lighting was
designed, so linear fluorescent, compact fluorescent, and metal halide lighting
fixtures were installed. The building’s energy use from lighting, occupancy
sensors included, resulted in a 35% reduction from that of an identical building
designed to meet the energy code, saving the Oak Park Public Works an estimated
$144,000 on energy bills each year.
There was little-to-no cost increase in design services of LEED items. Holabird
& Root has been providing sustainable designs as a standard for high-quality
projects long before LEED became popular. Holabird & Root had meetings each
month to discuss the cost versus potential LEED impact and to keep on track with
the requirements of LEED, including paperwork and various design issues.
Oftentimes the construction manager would inform the team of a cost that could
be reduced if something were eliminated from the project. Holabird & Root would
then give the Village of Oak Park the option, and typically they chose to
maintain the value offered, electing to keep the item instead of lowering the
overall cost of the project. There were costs for assembling the documentation,
reports, and various forms for the LEED application, but no real additional fees
were charged for the design or administrative work.
Not only was the facility designed to be energy efficient and environmentally
friendly, but also practical for the workers and appealing to the community.
Holabird & Root designed a facility that best utilizes the two-acre space, while
still appealing to the aesthetic of the neighborhood. Everything, including up
to 1,000 tons of winter road salt, is housed within the building. In keeping
with the proportions of neighboring buildings, the second level is not the width
of the building, and it is equipped with a Snow Command and Backup Emergency
Operations with a 911 Center. Service space for the fleet of vehicles is located
at street level, complete with an indoor parking space. Only the top two floors
are visible, making the design fit within existing zoning height regulations.
The needs of the people of Oak Park were always the first consideration when
designing the specifics of the facility. Additional features in the building,
not part of the design, have prompted points to be applied for in the Innovation
and Design category. This includes the public solar-powered trash container,
which includes a self-monitoring compacter that uses solar panels to measure the
volume of trash. The building is both attractive and beneficial for its workers,
having used low-emission paints, adhesives, and carpeting throughout.
Sustainability of the building will be measured not at the grand opening, but
during its life and operation, since the Owner has committed to operate the
facility in a sustainable fashion.
The Village of Oak Park Public Works building opened in September 2007 to a
welcoming community. The new facility brought back the Public Works members
displaced by the fire and integrated the various departments into a unique,
high-tech facility that houses all the needs of the community under one roof,
while saving enormous amounts of energy. This cutting-edge project has been
featured in various magazines and honored with several awards, including Project
of the Year by the Chicago Metropolitan Chapter of the American Public Works
Association. If awarded the Silver certification, the Oak Park Public Works
building will be the first public works facility to earn any level of LEED
About the Author: Founded in 1880, Holabird & Root’s 128-year history reflects
the evolution of American architecture. Since its founding, the firm has
continually responded to new technologies, changing tastes, and shifts in the
economy. From the early “Chicago School” skyscrapers, to the most recent
award-winning designs, Holabird & Root is known for refined structures that
endure. Today, the firm maintains a staff of over 115 professional architects,
engineers, interior designers, graphic Illustrators, and support personnel.
Holabird & Root’s main office is located in downtown Chicago, Illinois, with a
second office in Rochester, Minnesota. For more information about the firm,
please go to
Role of the American Arbitration Association (AAA)
The AAA does not mediate nor arbitrate disputes. Its main functions are to
administer these processes and to maintain panels of neutral mediators and
arbitrators in all fields of business endeavor. The AAA conducts educational
activities for the training of mediators and arbitrators. AAA arbitrators and
mediators attend training seminars and abide by the AAA's Code of Ethics
requiring confidentiality and impartiality.
To initiate a mediation or arbitration, one or both parties can contact the AAA
for full information and instructions.
All architects, engineers, and contractors who administer, prepare, review, or
enter into construction or design agreements should have as a desk reference the
Construction Industry Mediation Rules and Construction Industry Arbitration
Rules. These two booklets are available at no cost from the American Arbitration
Association, 140 West 51st Street, New York, NY 10021-1203 or from the local AAA
office nearest you.
Better Communication Is the Key to Preventing and Resolving Disputes
In recent years, considerable study and experimentation has been applied to the
prevention of disputes in the construction industry. The technique of partnering
aims to eliminate disputes by promoting communication among the parties and
their key employees.
ADR, on the other hand, concentrates on the efficient resolution of disputes
once they have arisen. The ADR technique of facilitated negotiation is one where
a skilled facilitator assists the negotiating parties to better communicate
their positions and to understand the basis of each others' reasoning.
Another ADR procedure, the mini-trial, is basically a communication procedure to
educate the decision-makers of each side to better understand the basis of their