Securian Headquarters Captures First “Green” Certification in a Twin Cities Downtown

11/18/2009

Securian Financial Group’s St. Paul headquarters building, built by McGough Construction, has been awarded LEED-EB certification, the U.S. Green Building Council’s recognition of outstanding sustainable practices in existing buildings.

The 401 Building is the first LEED-EB Certified building in either Downtown Minneapolis or Downtown St. Paul, and one of only five in Minnesota. Ken Potts, McGough’s director of sustainability, who also heads up the firm’s Bright Green Center of Excellence, served as the LEED project administrator. McGough Facility Management, working closely with Securian’s maintenance team, compiled a 12-month record of Securian’s energy usage, which achieved an Energy Star rating, placing it among the top four percent of U.S. commercial buildings. Here’s more:

SECURIAN HEADQUARTERS CAPTURES FIRST “GREEN” CERTIFICATION IN A TWIN CITIES DOWNTOWN

Securian Financial Group, founded in 1880, has more than nine million clients and 5,000+ associates across the country. The firm provides $731 billion in life insurance protection and manages $24.6 billion in assets.

THE AWARD. Securian’s headquarters 401 Building at Sixth and Robert Streets in Downtown St. Paul, Minnesota, recently received LEED-EB certification, the U.S. Green Building Council’s award honoring outstanding sustainable practices in existing buildings. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design’s “Existing Buildings” certification recognizes superior engineering standards, energy usage, environmentally-friendly maintenance, and recycling programs.

The 401 Building is the first LEED-EB Certified building in either Downtown Minneapolis or Downtown St. Paul, and one of only five in Minnesota. As Sheri Brezinka, executive director of the Mississippi Headwaters Chapter of the USGBC, observes, “The green building movement offers an opportunity to respond to global climate change, dependence on non-sustainable and expensive sources of energy, and threats to human health. Innovative projects such as the 401 Building are a fundamental driving force in the green building movement.”

THE BUILDING. The 401 Building was designed by Architectural Alliance, a leading Minneapolis design firm. Founded in 1970, the Alliance provides architectural, interior design and planning services. The builder, McGough Construction, is a recognized leader in sustainable construction, having built the first office buildings in Minnesota to receive LEED Platinum, LEED Gold, and LEED EB certification, as well as the first LEED certified condominium project. In fact, the 401 Building joins McGough’s three other LEED EB Certified Minnesota projects–the Karges-Falconbridge Headquarters in Roseville; Butler Square in Downtown Minneapolis; and Ecolab’s Allen L. Schuman corporate headquarters in Eagan, which received LEED EB Gold certification.

The 401 Building is a 13-story, 632,000-square foot facility. Occupied in 2000, it houses Securian’s five business units. Many of the company’s corporate services personnel are located in the neighboring 450,000-square foot 400 Building.

THE PROCESS. In early 2008, Julio Fesser, Securian’s director of facilities services, initiated the certification process, inviting the McGough Facility Management team to evaluate the potential for LEED Certification of the 401 Building. Following an initial review of the building’s systems and operations, McGough Facility Management’s team concluded that certification was likely. The first step of the analysis measured the building’s energy performance against Energy Star, the national standard.

ENERGY STAR. A joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Star is an innovative energy performance rating system for commercial buildings. These ratings, using a scale of 1 to 100, offer a way to gauge the energy efficiency of specific buildings against the performance of similar facilities. Moreover, a satisfactory Energy Star rating–75 or higher–is mandatory for LEED certification. As required by Energy Star, McGough Facility Management compiled a 12-month record of the 401’s energy usage, and the result, a 96 rating, placed it in the top four percent of U.S. commercial buildings.

In recognizing the building’s Energy Star performance, Fesser observed, “We are not green because it is in fashion. Green business is good business. As the largest private-sector property owner in downtown St. Paul and a landlord with several tenants, we take every opportunity to keep our energy costs down. It’s good for our company and our clients.”

During the energy data collection period, the McGough Facility Management and Securian team targeted the necessary and most likely LEED points for the 401, and began to collect supporting information. Individual members of the McGough team took responsibility for specific components of the building–systems and cleaning, for example–and subcontractors supplied data to document their “green” contributions, including cleaning practices, solid waste disposal, materials recycling, ASHRAE practices, and light bulb usage.

DISTRICT ENERGY. A particular advantage for Securian is its partnership with District Energy of St. Paul, which operates the largest and most successful biomass-fueled hot water district heating system in North America. District Energy heats and cools the headquarters buildings, thereby eliminating the need for boilers or chillers. Moreover, because it uses a locally available, renewable fuel source–clean wood waste–District Energy supports St. Paul’s claim to being one of the greenest cities in the nation.

The McGough Facility Management team uploaded the comprehensive 401 data on USGBC templates, successfully responded to inquiries about the building’s air handling performance and disposal of construction waste, and received the long-awaited LEED EB Certification on Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22, 2009.

In receiving the award, Julio Fesser emphasized that the decision to pursue LEED accreditation is consistent with Securian’s philosophy. “Our goal with the design and construction of the 401 Building was to combine cost-effective operation with aesthetics and workplace efficiencies. This company has been located within a few blocks of its current location since it was founded in 1880 and we plan to stay here. That’s another reason why we put our best efforts into the 401: We want to be a good neighbor in downtown St. Paul.”

He underscored the fact that the 401 Building continues to use the systems and materials that were installed originally. Indeed, no modifications to the physical plant or its operational procedures were necessary to qualify for the building’s LEED EB certification.

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