IIDA Notes: Setting the Standard for Green Design

Jan. 1, 2008

Utilizing sustainable design strategies, IIDA's new Chicago headquarters is expected to receive LEED certification.

By John Mack, FIIDA

Most designers understand that sustainability can no longer be an add-on service, but should be an integral component of the design solutions put forward by any interior design professional. However, staying ahead of sustainable best practices and aware of the life-cycle questions one should be asking manufacturers can be a daunting task.

To structure IIDA's efforts in this arena, the Association adopted the sustainability mission "to promote awareness and knowledge of interior design strategies that reduce negative impacts on our natural environment and improve the health and well-being of all people" as an important element of its educational services.  

This fall, though, IIDA took its advocacy role even further with the unveiling of its new international headquarters office in The Merchandise Mart, Chicago.

The space-designed by Washington, D.C.-based Envision Design, which also provided LEED® consultation-demonstrates the Association's dedication to design excellence, and was conceived with the intention of achieving Gold certification under the USGBC's LEED for Commercial Interiors (LEED-CI).

IIDA's new headquarters features products and materials that demonstrate that sustainable design can be both beautiful and functional. For example, 25 percent of the materials specified for the project are made with post-consumer and post-industrial recycled materials, including the carpet, upholstered wall panels, gypsum board, ceiling tiles, millwork, steel framing, and office furniture. Another 5 percent of the products specified are made with rapidly renewable materials such as cork flooring, wool area rugs and agrifiber core panels for millwork.

Energy use is managed effectively through an underfloor air delivery system in the office area which allows for individual temperature control. Fluorescent lighting fixtures are used throughout the space and highly efficient T5 linear pendant fixtures are also used in office areas. In addition, certain environmental design elements have naturally lent themselves to the space. Partitions between open workstations were designed to be low and allow for views to the windows beyond from a seated position, and private offices have been enclosed with continuous floor to ceiling glass walls, and glass doors, in order to maximize the penetration of natural light.

The project illustrates the wide variety of products available in the marketplace whose manufacturing and distribution leave a light footprint on the earth. Many IIDA Corporate Members, manufacturers and suppliers contributed to the new facility.

The headquarters was designed to be an interactive space-a working laboratory for Members and guests to experience the best in sustainable design when visiting Chicago's Merchandise Mart. In addition to housing offices for the professional staff of the Association, the headquarters space also features a state-of-the-art conference and learning center.

It's been said that sustainable design is the art of creating interior design solutions that comply with the principles of economic, social and ecological sustainability. IIDA's headquarters is an illustration of that concept, and an embodiment of how to connect sustainable thought with sustainable practice.

John Mack, FIIDA, AIA, is the 2007-2008 president of IIDA and senior partner and design director for HLW International in New York, NY. IIDA is headquartered in Ste. 567 at The Merchandise Mart, Chicago, and can be reached at (888) 799-4432; www.iida.org; or [email protected].

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