225 Varick Street: National Audubon Society’s New Green Headquarters

The National Audubon Society’s new environment-friendly headquarters reflects the organization’s mission and is in pursuit of a LEED Platinum rating from USGBC.

The National Audubon Society, one of the country’s oldest and best-known wildlife conservation groups, has just moved into a new eco-friendly headquarters, the New York Times reported this weekend. The office, which occupies the seventh floor of 225 Varick Street, went well beyond the criteria needed to receive LEED Platinum certification, according to John Flicker, Audubon’s president.  The idea was to lead by example, and Flicker reported that the Society was able to “meet the LEED standard more fully than [it] anticipated and with less effort that [it] expected” due to the increased availability of green building materials on the market.

The project registered under LEED for Commercial Interiors (“LEED-CI”) and is currently awaiting formal certification- for Platinum or otherwise- from USGBC.  The Audubon Society actually has a history of environment-friendly office spaces; it purchased 8-story, 100,000-square-foot 700 Broadway in Greenwich Village back in 1989 (which was abandoned at the time) and renovated its space there through the early 1990s using similarly (though obviously pre-LEED) sustainable design features. Designed by FXFOWLE Architects, the 27,000-square-foot workplace has its own cooling and ventilation system that is separate from the rest of the 12-floor office building, which was built in 1926. The offices are constructed and furnished almost completely with materials that are sustainable, recyclable, or reclaimed, most of which came from within a 500-mile radius.

Each desk has individual lighting so ambient light can be kept to the lowest possible levels. The ventilation system, along with telephone and computer cables, is hidden under a raised floor, which allows occupants of enclosed offices to regulate temperatures via an adjustable duct in the floor. FXFOWLE’s Guy Geier reported that the firm’s singular difficulty in designing the Audubon’s new green headquarters was finding the right “shell” in which to install it. The Audubon Society has leased the space at 225 Varick Street for the next twenty years, which means that ensuring the green space performs as projected will be an imperative for the organization.

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