Sasaki Associates, Inc. "Walking the Green Talk: Transforming Buildings, Habitat and Culture;" Watertown, Massachusetts — Innovation in Green Design Award, United States Green Building Council Massachusetts Membership Forum
Best New Workplace: Large Renovation, CoreNet New England Chapter
Best Practices in Sustainability/Existing Building LEED Principles, International Facility Management Association Boston Chapter
Sasaki Associates, Inc. Chase Mills Office Renovation
Sasaki Associates, Inc., Watertown, MA
Chase Mills exemplifies the successful transformation of a manufacturing facility into a vibrant office environment. Located on the Charles River, the site is comprised of mill buildings that have been in use from 1634 into the 20th century. Since the 1970s, the 96,000-square-foot complex has served as Sasaki's headquarters and main design studios. Sasaki has been updating and improving the facility over the decades, with each successive renovation incorporating increasingly sustainable approaches and processes. Sasaki leadership has committed to increasing staff awareness of green issues. To help achieve this goal, the firm designed the offices in Watertown to be a green laboratory, using the workplace to implement, test, and evaluate sustainable technologies and design practices. Through this concept, Sasaki educates employees and subsequently clients about the benefits of energy efficient design, renewable energy systems, and sustainability. As a result, the Chase Mills building has become highly sustainable and, at the time of completion, was the oldest building in the United States to receive LEED EB Gold Certification.
Sasaki implemented numerous measures to increase lighting efficiency including replacing bulbs, installing sensors, and painting ceilings white to better reflect available light. These changes, which have had a subtle effect on the interior lighting environment, have resulted in a dramatic reduction in electricity usage and a two year payback on the investment as well as an ENERGY STAR® rating which rose from 53 to 93 and a $90,000 decrease in operating costs.
Sasaki also incorporated a variety of water conservation technologies and techniques into the building renovation such as ultra low-flow toilets, waterless urinals, low-flow and eco powered sensor faucets, low-flow showerheads, and water-efficient dishwashers. With these changes, Sasaki's water bill has dropped by 30%.
Sasaki used contemporary cradle-to-cradle carpeting throughout most of the office areas. The carpet tiles created less waste during installation and are easily replaced. In addition, meeting spaces in the office incorporate the use of EcoVeil shades that are PVC free, cork flooring made from 100% post industrial waste, and low VOC water-based polyurethane finish.
Other sustainable interior materials include low-emitting desk top laminates and recyclable Homosote. Sasaki reuses about 70% of workstation materials during office renovation projects and also specifies FSC Certified lumber when new wood is needed. Low VOC paints, formaldehyde free glues, adhesives, and substrates contribute to healthy air quality at Sasaki.
On the exterior, the firm selected Follansbee terne-coated stainless steel exterior cladding. The embodied energy for the product is smaller than a pure zinc product and zinc-salt run-off is estimated to be less— important because of the firm's proximity to the Charles River. The addition of a deck has created a new employee gathering space and exterior workspace. The deck is made of Garapa wood, which is one of the finest quality hardwoods available. Fine-grained and golden hued, it is naturally resistant to rot, decay, insect attack, and scratches.
The most recent renovation included transitioning to an open work plan and a major renovation of the lobby and conferencing spaces. Sasaki abandoned traditional partitioned cubicles and enclosed offices in favor of open workspaces. The resulting democracy of space facilitates interaction, fosters the creation of project teams, and allows movement and mobility.