Making Buildings More Valuable

Healthy Buildings
Written by Jessica Ferlaino

Since sustainability as a concept engrained itself in modern building design and operation, Healthy Buildings’ approach, their core purpose in fact, is to make buildings and the organizations that operate them more valuable. The organization achieves this by maintaining a focus on indoor air quality (IAQ), water, energy and LEED certification.
At Healthy Buildings, a ‘LEED a-la-carte’ approach makes sustainability not only possible, but affordable.

Healthy Buildings’ Indoor Air Quality (HBI®) Program builds value for clients by improving their assets in such a way that they are able to attract and retain both tenants and employees, decreasing risk and thus liabilities. The organization develops strategic partnerships with, and brands their clients as leaders in sustainability irrespective of their decision to go through LEED, creating environments that support productivity and wellbeing.

Using simple pragmatism and advanced problem solving analytics to inject business minded sustainability into their clients’ operations, Healthy Buildings has earned a sterling reputation for their many services, including energy benchmarking, audits and commissioning services. Healthy Buildings serves the commercial real estate and construction industry, working with property owners, building managers, developers, architects, engineers, LEED consultants and government agencies to achieve their sustainability goals.

Healthy Buildings has a breadth of technical expertise in the building sciences and experience in indoor environmental quality, energy and water efficiency, hands-on inspections of building systems, and reporting and auditing services on sustainability projects. The firm has worked in thousands of buildings for a number of clients in the commercial / office, medical, educational, institutional, multifamily and hospitality sectors.

“It’s been close to ten years since we started a sustainability department,” explains Chris Ashworth, Vice President and Eastern Regional Manager, “because that was the way the market was changing. So we bring value to the building through assisting in lowering operational expenses like energy, water and waste.” Healthy Buildings has developed the capacity, the equipment and the capital investment to bring sustainability to their clients on a larger scale.

Established 35 years ago, Healthy Buildings was initially dedicated to industrial hygiene, still a large portion of the company’s annual revenue. The company has since expanded their operations, creating new departments to address gaps in the market. With a majority of their employees LEED AP Certified, Healthy Buildings operates out of five offices in the U.S. and two affiliated internationally to provide value to clients all over the world.

Though the majority of Healthy Buildings’ work is still in the testing and diagnostics side of industrial hygiene, their services have expanded to encompass many other aspects of sustainability. The company began conducting waste audits this past year, acknowledging that there is a gap in the marketplace in this respect. Ashworth explains that, “We are working to develop a waste auditing department to find and then implement waste conservation measures where people are not managing their waste properly.”

The implementation of energy efficiency measures was a natural fit for the company’s audit and technical services culture. The firm has placed an additional focus on the water conservation side as well, knowing that energy conservation has been widely accepted as common practice whereas issues of water are becoming increasingly important and require additional attention. Healthy Buildings has also started investigating how storm water can be harvested, lending to conservation, reusing the water for other purposes instead of relying solely on potable water, and working together with clients to ensure that buildings are operating as efficiently and effectively as possible, protecting the environment in the process.

Sustainable Initiatives in Action
Healthy Buildings has a number of exceptional projects that have earned the team recognition in the industry. California certainly has its share of LEED certified buildings, though Healthy Buildings have been actively involved in the certification and re-certification of several exceptionally sustainable buildings, raising the bar for what is both expected and possible.

As examples, Healthy Buildings served as the consultants offering credit services on the Watt Plaza re-certification project. Initially awarded LEED Gold, Watt Plaza, with the help of Healthy Buildings, was able to achieve LEED Platinum certification for Existing Buildings, Operations and Maintenance. With an Energy Star score of 95, Watt Plaza offsets 100 percent of its annual energy consumption emissions through the acquisition of renewable energy credits.

Additionally, the project integrated sustainable maintenance equipment and strategically used ground cover, reducing 35 percent of conventional transportation trips and incorporating low-flow fixtures, water efficient toilets and sustainable landscaping practices to save millions of gallons of water annually.

Healthy Buildings also offered their LEED consulting and technical services, as well as performing annual IAQ Proactive Inspections, for Two California Plaza, which achieved LEED Platinum certification for Existing Buildings, Operations and Maintenance from USGBC in October, 2013. Working for Ocean West Management Services, a full service real estate company, Healthy Buildings helped them become a building that is attractive to tenants, employees, and visitors alike.

One of two iconic skyline buildings located at historic Bunker Hill in Los Angeles, Two California Plaza was one of the first 50 buildings in California to be awarded LEED Platinum certification, and one of the very first in Los Angeles County. With an Energy Star rating of 95, the building maximizes energy, water and resource use, boasts improved IAQ, and has a minimized impact on the environment. The sustainability initiatives undertaken are projected to save 1, 269, 532 kWh annually, with 62.5 percent of its annual emissions diverted. Low-flow fixtures and water conservation measures will decrease water use by 30 percent, with the building serving as an interactive educational opportunity for occupants and visitors who utilize the space.

Healthy Buildings IS Sustainability
Not only does Healthy Buildings bring value and decrease institutional risk for their clients while making buildings more marketable – they, too, practice sustainability through in-house initiatives in addition to ensuring that buildings operate with minimum costs while maximizing NOI. Quickly establishing themselves as the go-to specialists for technical LEED accreditation, Healthy Buildings participates in every stage of the certification process.

In many cases Healthy Buildings is brought into a project in its early stages, utilizing their specialized focus in obtaining LEED technical credits. Healthy Buildings is also equipped with a highly sophisticated in-house laboratory that allows them to facilitate their own testing and diagnostic services, saving time and increasing their organizational efficiency. Healthy Buildings’ laboratory has the capacity for optimal microscopy, gas chromatography / mass spectroscopy, microbial qualitative and quantitative analyses, Legionella bacteria culture methods, and colorimetric and atomic absorption methodologies for water quality analyses, by qualified and experienced personnel.

Many employees of Healthy Buildings are represented on a number of key boards and organizations, and Chris Ashworth is no exception. Speaking to his time serving as the Board Chair of the National Capital Region of the USGBC, he is doing more to advance sustainability and sustainable practices in addition to his work with Healthy Buildings.

Citing GreenBuild and the end of their strategic plan as pinnacle moments from his time on the USGBC Board, Ashworth wanted this role to further the advancement of sustainability initiatives on an organizational level. “That’s why I really wanted to be Chair, to ensure that we came through with a strategic plan that will take us through the next three years after Green Build, a 30, 000 person conference, to ensure that we are a viable Board and organization for years to come,” he shares.

The same is true of Healthy Buildings as an organization. Continuing to respond to the demands of the sustainability sector in the market, Healthy Buildings is committed to maximizing energy, water and resource efficiency, improving IAQ, and minimizing a building’s environmental impact, decreasing operating costs in the process and continuing to make buildings and the organizations that operate them more valuable.



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