By Devin Takekawa
Sustainable Investment Group (SIG)
Located in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota is Baker Center which consists of 4 interconnected buildings that add up to 1,262,062 square feet. Baker Center is well known for the retail stores and businesses inside of the complex, but it is also known for its easy access to downtown Minneapolis. Tenants can enjoy the event venues around them such as U.S. Bank Stadium and Target Field (both LEED certified), or even take a walk through the Walker Art Center. This complex also includes quick access to public transportation, bicycle facilities, and walkable paths. The only thing that was missing for Baker Center was a LEED certification.
Before being awarded the certification, a previous tenant occupied 50% of the building, but recently decided to vacate the office space. With this occurring, Baker Center underwent a 25-million-dollar renovation to improve the vacated area and turn it into a newly-leasable shell space. The result was that Baker Center could pursue LEED Core & Shell certification. Sustainable Investment Group was able to assist the building owner, Transwestern, and help Baker Center earn its LEED v2009 BD+C: Core & Shell Silver certification.
Baker Center decided to undergo this major renovation to attract new tenants and serve the community as it once did in the early 1950s. The building manager, Transwestern, and Architect, RSP Architects, wanted to honor the history of Baker Center but with an attractive exterior and modern interior design. With this in mind, several amenities were constructed for the tenants such as new conference rooms, workstations, a fitness center, and a new temperature-controlled parking garage. The team also renovated its skyway level and added in a rooftop terrace, as shown in figure 2, which allows the tenants to have phenomenal views while at Baker Center.
Some of the other renovations that led to Baker Center’s LEED Silver certification included upgrades of the lighting and plumbing systems. By changing to LED lighting fixtures (examples shown in figures 3 & 4), the building is now 24.45% more efficient in comparison to Minnesota’s local lighting compliance and code. The new plumbing fixtures allowed Baker Center to reduce their water usage by 36%. Besides installing these new green technologies, the Baker Center renovation team also payed close attention to recycling as much of the existing building structure as possible. Over 78% of the existing structure was re-used during the renovation and 25% of the new building materials contained recycled content.
RSP Architects, Gardner Builders, JE Dunn Construction, and other sub-contractors were able to complete this major renovation within a year. Sustainable Investment Group (SIG) was able to join the team after the renovation and contribute in a vital way towards the LEED Silver certification. Our Engineering and Consulting staff was able to provide LEED Consulting, Fundamental Commissioning, and Energy Modeling of the building. Drawing on experience from previous LEED projects, SIG was able to identify and recommend supply air temperature resets, propose LED lighting upgrades, and create a lighting power density lease agreement for new and existing tenants within Baker Center. The final energy models showed significant energy savings and cost reduction. This model was key in earning more points during the LEED effort and helping Baker Center earn the LEED Silver certification.
Baker Center’s major renovation is a great example of how a renovation can lead to a building’s sustainability, energy savings, occupant comfort, and even a LEED certification.
Figures: 1, 3, and 4: https://rsparch.com/
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