Chicago-Based firm prioritizes sustainable design to achieve maximum occupant comfort and well-being with CertainTeed Gypsum
Improving society through the built environment
A mechanical, engineering and plumbing firm, Environmental Solutions Design (ESD) provides consultative design services and building solutions for its clients.
ESD prides itself in “improving society through the built environment,” a mission statement that is reflected in the daily operations of the company. They create stunning concepts using innovation, experimentation and evidence-based design solutions that go beyond standard building design to improve the quality of life for the end-user. But what really differentiates ESD is its ability to create safe environments that empower the occupant to communicate, inspire, innovate and evolve, with sustainability and wellness at its core.
With a deep-rooted legacy in Chicago, ESD found the ideal location for its new headquarters in Chicago’s iconic Willis Tower. Located across 47,000 square feet on the towers 53rd floor, the aim for this commercial office design was to create a space that reflected the company’s ideals and mission, improving the work experience for its more than 240 employees who occupy the workspace.
Putting an emphasis on transparency & education
One of ESD’s biggest priorities for the project was to achieve LEED Silver certification. LEED recognizes commercial construction projects for the use of sustainable building materials that benefit the occupant and the environment.
CertainTeed Gypsum was an attractive manufacturer to ESD for its selection and quality of environmental product declarations (EPDs) and Health Product Declarations (HPD). EPDs are independently-verified third-party reports that outline a building product’s impact on the environment. Health Product Declarations are declarations that discloses chemicals contained in a material, which assists in further evaluation of how well materials meet both project and building code criteria. EPDs are critical for any builder looking for sustainable, environmentally-conscious products, and are instrumental in achieving points toward LEED certification criteria.
Products with verified EPDs, such as CertainTeed AirRenew Essential, ultimately make the job of selecting materials easier, since these declarations evaluate a product’s impact in achieving certification criteria and assist architectural firms in specifying the right product for the job.
“I think very few people out there know that a product isn’t necessarily good if it has an EPD,” said Tim Zelazny, ESD Senior Associate and Sustainability Leader. “The innovative companies are the ones who care about sustainability. CertainTeed Gypsum is an early adopter and are continually meeting new certification criteria.”
Green building has made tremendous strides in the past few years, but building owners and occupants are still largely unaware of the full impact that building materials can have on occupant health and wellbeing.
“I don’t think [occupants] are aware that EPDs exist,” said Zelazny. “I don’t think they know what EPD even stands for.”
“As the first manufacturer in the building materials industry to have launched gypsum-specific EPDs, CertainTeed is committed to its investment in sustainability and transparency,” said Matt Walker, President and CEO of CertainTeed Gypsum in the United States. “We provide professionals like Tim with the right information so they can empower architects, specifiers, builders and more to make sustainable design a reality. We make the specification of sustainable building materials easy for our customers.”
Since the project’s completion, ESD’s employees have found the space has an impact on their productivity and comfort. ESD’s new headquarters in Willis Tower is a representation of what the company stands for – intelligent, sustainable building design integrated into their work space, improving the health and wellness for their employees. In the end, ESD’s new headquarters was so sustainable, that the company was actually reimbursed by the city’s energy supplier for exceeding code requirements.