Savannah East, a seven-story office building completed in 2016, is the first structure in Trinidad and Tobago certified for its eco-friendly features by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).
The building, for which WSP USA was responsible for the architecture, mechanical/electrical/plumbing (MEP) engineering design, energy modeling services and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) advisory services, was certified LEED Silver by USGBC on March 3.
When work on the 78,000-square-foot building began in 2013, the client, real estate developer RGM Ltd., set a goal of developing a building that would set new standards in green design and construction for the Caribbean island nation.
“From the start, RGM was determined to achieve LEED Silver certification, championing a new building culture that would promote and prioritize sustainable and environmentally favorable building technologies, from design, to construction, to use,” said Martyn Joab, principal architect for the project.
Partnering with WSP gave RGM a firm with extensive experience on LEED-certified projects in the Western Hemisphere.
The WSP team included Renate Allum and Ronell Joseph, architects. Randy Ragbir, Stefan Gayle, Vanessa Griffith and Allan Nanton were responsible for MEP design. Martin Sing of the Ottawa office provided LEED consulting services. Elizabeth Inglefield, project manager acted as the client liaison and coordinator between WSP (Caribbean) and WSP Canada (Ottawa).
Allum said the biggest challenge the team overcame during construction of the $15 million building was management of the client-driven design changes, while still meeting the project’s “fast track” construction schedule and environmental goals.
“The WSP team sought to create a building system and environment that was efficient, responsible, healthy and promoted user well-being,” Joseph added. “Regular meetings were held with the design team, general contractors and other stakeholders to ensure that everyone was on board and on track to meet the LEED goal.”
Some of the elements included in the building’s design included the incorporation of a green roof and the creation of interior and exterior “living walls,” which formed part of the heating/ventilation/air conditioning (HVAC) air filtration system.
The building achieved greater water efficiency by harvesting rainwater for use in the restrooms. The building system captures air-conditioning condensate and gray water for irrigation of the landscape and living walls, and the installation of water-efficient and low-flow plumbing fixtures has reduced overall water consumption.
Solar power, use of energy-efficient equipment, and power regeneration from the building’s elevator system, has been used to reduce overall grid power consumption.
“The use of an energy model assisted the design team in maximizing the efficiency of the mechanical and electrical systems,” Joab said.
Regionally sourced and recycled materials were used during construction, including marmoleum flooring, recycled cardboard panels, bamboo panels, and countertops constructed using recycled materials. Healthier indoor air quality is maintained through the use of low-emitting materials, including adhesives, sealants, paints and coatings, and flooring systems.
Parking is provided for 175 vehicles on two basement levels of the building. It also accommodates bicycle parking to encourage non-motorized transportation.
In addition to its environmental advances, Savannah East is conveniently located near Queen’s Park Savannah and provides a high-quality experience for its tenants, including a double-height reception lobby, a landscaped roof terrace, and a penthouse with a gym, dining and entertainment area with a spectacular view of the Port of Spain landscape, which includes nearby Queen’s Park Savannah.
Tenants at Savannah East, which include international firms like China Railway, KPMG and CUNA, are responsible for fitting their offices to RGM’s requirements and in alignment with LEED requirements.
The success of this project is expected to encourage the construction of other environmentally focused projects in Trinidad and Tobago. WSP is currently working with the National Insurance Board of Trinidad and Tobago in its pursuit of LEED Silver certification for its new corporate headquarters in Port of Spain.
“Silver certification for Savannah East not only confirms the realization of the project’s goal, but is signaling a new era in development for this country and the region,” Allum said.
She added that the opportunity to work on a LEED-certified project was a rewarding experience for her and the WSP team.
“We have always been environmentally aware and conscious of health issues that the built environment has on society,” Allum said. “As such, we are extremely satisfied – personally and professionally – to have been a part of formalizing our firm’s position on sustainability and wellness in the construction industry.”