Though best known as a producer of advanced design tools for architects, engineers and designers, Autodesk is also notable for being a company on the leading edge of corporate sustainability. Indeed, the firm regards its own operating locations as testing grounds for “green” design – a strategy that has seen it reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 33% since 2009.
Green from the start
One of the firm’s latest and most significant locations – its new 22,000 sq. ft office in Beijing – was created very much in the same vein. Conceived to enhance Autodesk’s presence in one of its fastest-growing markets, the project began with a site selection process with criteria heavily weighted towards finding a space with the potential for LEED Certification. “We have found that LEED offices are not only more energy efficient, but also increase employee satisfaction and productivity”, explains Joe Chen, Autodesk’s Vice President of Corporate Real Estate Facilities, Travel, Safety, and Security.
The search quickly zeroed in on the distinctively pyramidal form of the newly constructed Parkview Green building in Beijing. Designed to be one of China’s most environmentally friendly buildings, Parkview Green had the added distinction of being the first in the country to achieve LEED Platinum Certification for core and shell.
Maximising existing assets
Built-in sustainability proved to be a useful starting point for M Moser’s Beijing team. As Donn Tan, leader of the design team, recounts: “The main challenge lay in designing a space that would integrate with and maximise base building features such as high-efficiency lighting, chilled beam ceilings, underfloor air conditioning, and close proximity to public transportation.”
Accordingly, the office “evolved” from the raw space, with an arrangement that largely conforms to existing lighting and sub-floor air conditioning grids. By reducing the need to make alterations to the base building, this strategy also led to a reduction in the construction waste generated by the project.
A balanced solution
Also kept to a minimum were “built” or enclosed zones within the space, with the majority of the office being open-plan. Where enclosure was necessary – such as for meeting rooms – transparent glass walls were used to offer acoustic privacy without disrupting the space’s visual “flow”.
Similarly, what is good for sustainability is also good for staff effectiveness in the work areas. Bench-type workstations give maximum function, flexibility and scalability from a minimum of furniture, their low profiles and lack of high partitions also facilitating easy communication between staff members.
The work areas’ wide-open expanses also allow natural light to radiate evenly and deeply into the space, cutting down demand for artificial lighting. Energy demand was further reduced with the integration of an advanced Leviton control system. Overall, the office uses approximately 30% less electricity for lighting than a traditional equivalently sized workplace.
Sustainability was also a powerful influence on the selection of materials used in the design. The reception area’s flooring, for example, is composed of biodegradable Marmoleum panels, while low-VOC Nippon paints and Milliken carpets were used throughout. Even the office’s Herman Miller system furniture contains a high level of recycled content, and more than 90% of the office’s equipment is Energy Star-compliant.
The completed LEED Platinum certified office has achieved an impressive series of sustainability goals for Autodesk. Lighting load, for example, is 44% below ASHRAE levels, while water consumption is 40% below the LEED baseline figure. As Autodesk’s Joe Chen relates, “This project has more than met our goals of reducing energy consumption and GHG emissions.”
- Status Completed
- Area 22,000 sq-ft
- Completion date 2011
- Location Beijing
- Sustainability LEED Platinum
Asia Pacific Interior Design Awards for Elite 2013 - Office Excellence Award