One of our last site visits was to a building that was deemed by Bloomberg Business to be “the greenest, most intelligent building in the world.” The Edge is a building built and designed by OVG Real Estate. It was originally built for Deloitte’s headquarters, but due to the economic crisis a few years back, Deloitte did not take the entire building. Instead there is some office space on the top few floors that are not Deloitte. I’m glad we were able to explore the top floors some to get a better sense of the sustainability practices built into the building since we wouldn’t have been allowed to explore any of the Deloitte office space due to security reasons.
The building itself was designed first and foremost thinking about efficiency. For this reason, the building was designed from south to north and for the daylight. As a result, the wide open atrium full of windows allows light to pass through the building reducing the need for artificial light and contributes to the temperature control of the entire building. The atrium itself is not temperature regulated with any heat or air conditioning system. Instead, the design of the atrium allows the temperature to regulate itself, which is quite interesting. In addition, the building has a heat/cool storage system underground, which also helps with temperature regulation.
The picture above shows the view of the large open atrium from the top floor of the building.
Regarding energy, I was surprised when our tour guide told us how many solar panels the building had because I honestly didn’t notice them when we first walked into the building. They are so well built into the overall design of the building that it blends in and does not stand out like many other solar power energy system. This is even more interesting when consider the fact that the tour guide mentioned that the building was not designed from the outside but instead from the inside. The main focus when it comes to the design of the building was making the inside of the building where people would be working as efficient, smart, and comfortable as it could be. One thing the tour guide made a point to mention was how closely related health and sustainability are to each other. A little extra thought in the design of the building from a human comfort perspective can go a long way in making people feel more at home and happy in the building, which in turn makes them more productive overall. For example, the elevators were built with high ceilings in order to make the space feel less cramped and more open. People don’t always pay attention to these little things in building design, but such things can go a very long way when generating the overall vibe of a space. I thought this was particularly very interesting as I realize more and more how influential human psychology is in everyday living and everyday decision-making.
The picture above shows the front of the building that is covered with solar panels. You cannot even tell that there are solar panels until you are close up.
In addition, I took great interest in the building’s integrated data collection system. I am pursing a data analytics certificate in the business school at Pitt and have for the past year worked for a data analytics company, so I was particularly interested in how well a data analysis and collection platform was integrated into the building itself. I was especially impressed when the tour guide explained how successful the system has been in improving efficiency and how the organization has plans for even more improvements and additions to the platform and the other sustainability practices in the building. It is great to see how this organization realizes the importance of consistent improvement because technology is improving faster than we know how to implement it so there is always room for improvement.