Hello again readers, welcome back to our seasonal update blog series! We hope you’ve had a snowman and snow-angel filled winter and are finally getting to experience some warmth as spring settles in. Warmer days are ahead! Our last seasonal check-in featured some of the changes we experienced as we moved to the Strip District. We’re back with more news as the weather changes and we settle into our new home.

The USGBC has awarded us with…

*  drum roll, please! *

We are very proud to announce that our office space has been awarded the prestigious LEED Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. “Achieving LEED certification is more than implementing sustainable practices. It represents a commitment to making the world a better place and influencing others to do better,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, President and CEO, USGBC. We have been working on our office space since late-August, and receiving this designation for LEED Interior Design and Construction: Commercial Interiors for the space has been a major milestone for our group.

Learn more about our LEED Gold certified space: Press Release, Green Building Information Gateway & LEED Scorecard

Fresh Produce In, Compost Out

Another important health initiative in our company is to have healthy snack options available to our employees. This usually includes a few varieties of fruit, vegetables, nuts, and some on-the-go options. Being located in the Strip District, we are fortunate to be in close proximity to a vast number of produce stands, many of which have exotic fruits and vegetables that are difficult to find elsewhere. During our daily walks, we often wander by these fresh produce stands and have our pick for the office. (But sometimes we stop by the bakeries instead — SHH!)

In addition to our regular produce, we also have a weekly composting service set-up through Shadyside Worms. We are a part of their Curbside Compost Exchange program. We collect our food scraps in their food grade composting bucket. Someone from the company picks it up weekly. At the end of every three months, we receive worm castings to use as fertilizer for the many plants in our office and our employees’ homes. We love having this ingenious service that allows anyone to create their own fertilizer without the need for a worm bin. To read more or subscribe to this program, check out their website.

Healthy Buildings = Healthy People = Lower Costs

Earlier this month, members of our team attended People and Productivity, an event co-hosted by the Green Building Alliance and Pittsburgh Business Times. The goal of the event was to give attendees insight on maximizing worker productivity by ensuring a building is designed with employee health in mind. Employees are typically a company’s largest expense, but very few workplaces offer healthy incentives to their employees. Several studies have shown that occupants of healthy buildings tend to have fewer sick days, increased productivity, and overall job satisfaction. Despite this, few companies go beyond weight loss groups and gym memberships. When well-being is considered in the building design and operations employees feel more connected to nature, have a higher rate of thermal comfort, and have enough daylighting to mimic to our natural circadian rhythm.

Take an office with large windows designed with adequate ventilation and desk lamps compared to a space with no windows, little to no ventilation and lighting controls that one person has control over for example. The former scenario will result in employees that can see the outside world, have natural light, have fresh air (resulting in higher cognitive function), and enough light to complete their tasks. The latter office will have employees that feel trapped in a box, stagnant air, and lighting that is either too much and too little for their needs. Over-lighting will result in increased energy costs, while both over- and under-lighting increase employees dissatisfaction which is followed by a decrease in productivity. Our favorite take-away was that when buildings are intentionally designed with occupant health in mind, that results in 100% employee participation in comparison to the average of 15% participation for incentives such as weight loss challenges and healthy snacks.

Looking Ahead

Now with LEED Gold certification for our new space, we are eager to have our friends in to see the place. Slated for late spring will be a 3R Open House. We will keep you up-to-date with all the details as they fall into place.

The next few months are busy as always. We have submitted many LEED projects for review and should be hearing back about them soon. Look out for a blog post about the first ever LEED O+M: Existing Buildings – Multifamily project to gain certification. We submitted this project in February and will have a full round-up blog, keep an eye out!

Members of our team will also be at the following upcoming green building events:

  • GBA Member Tour: Google Pittsburgh Office Expansion at Bakery Square 2.0
  • AIA’s Build Pittsburgh 2017
  • Grounded for Good: 10 Years of GTECH
  • Pittsburgh 2030 District Progress Report Reception
  • If you are interested, you can check out all other upcoming GBA events here.

If you aren’t already doing so, go follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@3RBuilding for the last two). We are very active on social media and have a ton of fun, new ideas to share.