The first phase of replacing the 54-year old Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system in Avista's (NYSE: AVA) Spokane, Wash., headquarters building has earned the company a LEED Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
"This LEED Gold Certification is a continuation of Avista's legacy of environmental stewardship and sustainable business practices, including our focus on reducing energy use. The recognition is especially meaningful since Avista was recognized for innovative programs already in place," said Dennis Vermillion, president of Avista Utilities. "The energy savings work that has earned this recognition will also be implemented as the work continues on the remaining four floors of our building."
Renovating the company's signature five-story headquarters building is a five-year project that includes complete HVAC system upgrades, asbestos removal, controls upgrades, replacing ceilings, installing energy efficient lighting and windows. The redesigned interior layout incorporates daylight harvesting that ensures employees have access to natural light and existing windows.
When completed, the work will provide a healthier environment for employees and is expected to save more than 1.4 million kilowatt-hours of electricity, 66,000 therms of natural gas and reduce Avista's annual energy costs by $149,000 a year. The energy savings are enough to power 116 homes for a year and serve about 80 homes with natural gas.
Contributing to the LEED Gold Certification for the 5th floor HVAC upgrade is the existing innovative, energy efficient 1958-system that uses well-water to heat and cool Avista's headquarters building. The new high efficiency HVAC system continues to use the existing well-water system to cool the building rather than a mechanical system. After the cooling process, the water flows into a landscaping water feature where the unaltered water cools before being released into the nearby Spokane River.
About 56 percent of all construction waste from the 5th floor HVAC upgrade was recycled or salvaged, some of which was processed through Avista's on-site Investment Recovery Center for additional cost savings. Some of the other aspects of the project that contributed to the 5th floor LEED Gold Certification include installing solar water heating, refurbishing more than 35 percent of all furnishing in the space and purchasing used office furnishing for an 87 percent savings over new equipment, and purchasing renewable green e-certified credits.
"Stewardship of our financial resources is as important to Avista as our environmental responsibilities. That's why this project has focused on making smart low- or no-cost choices during the renovation that add up to sustainable energy savings for our landmark building for another half century," Vermillion said.
Spokane Design Build firm McKinstry, who focuses on sustainable long-term solutions to facilities needs, designed and constructed the improvements, as well as consulted on the LEED certification.
"McKinstry gets involved in a lot of interesting projects, but from the beginning, we could tell that this project and team were very special. It was clear that this partnership with Avista and the subcontracting community we were able to bring together would deliver outstanding results," said Paul Zasada, McKinstry's Inland Northwest Operations Manager.
LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.