Bulking Up The Greenery

Bulking Up The Greenery

The situation: The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), www.usgbc.org, is a community of leaders working to transform the way buildings and communities are designed, built and operated. The Council’s LEED Green Building Rating System is the national benchmark for high performance green buildings. Each year, the USGBC holds the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, where industry professionals gather to learn about the leading edge of the building and construction industry, including the latest updates and expansions of LEED. At Greenbuild 2006, USGBC representatives met with Initial Tropical Plants, www.initialplants.com, a leader in interior plantscaping for businesses, and asked the company to be a sponsor of their new Washington, D.C., headquarters. 

The Challenge

The USGBC stands for healthy, vibrant and green work environments, but its new Washington headquarters, while sleek and beautiful, did not feature any greenery. Valerie Goldbeck, branch vice president for Initial Tropical Plants in Washington, D.C., and design consultant Judy Corridon, led a team to transform the company’s offices into a lush and vibrant green workspace.

“It is very important to incorporate plantscaping into the design of green office spaces as it is essential for the overall well-being and health of employees,” says Linda Sorrento, director, Education & Research Partnerships for the USGBC and former Director of LEED for Commercial Interiors. “Employees thrive in offices which connect them to the outdoors, and bringing the outdoors inside creates a healthier and more productive atmosphere.” 

The Results

Initial Tropical Plants created a grassy and earthy design to complement the USGBC’s open floor plan and dramatic floor to ceiling windows. More than 650 plants were donated along with custom built planters. The installation was engaged the summer of 2006 with most of the design and installation completed by December 2006.

“Initial Tropical Plants discussed our design intent with us and recommended Dracaena marginata, which is a plant that thrives in a low-light level, tipped to replicate low grass and flourish indoors,” says Sorrento. “Initial Tropical Plants resourcefully provided sustainable solutions for the plants. They augmented the soil in the planters with coconut shells, rice husks and mulch from recycled content supplied by the state of Maryland.”

Visitors to the building are captivated by the lush greenery. “The plants have made a distinctive contribution to our space and visitors are always pleasantly surprised,” adds Sorrento.

“The plants are easy to maintain,” says Judy Corridon, design consultant for Initial Tropical Plants. “The plants are watered once a week which cuts down on the amount of potable water that is used for upkeep. Even with minimal water, the plants are healthy and vibrant.”

“The U.S. Green Building Council is grateful to Initial Tropical Plants for their generous donation to our new office space,” says Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO & Founding Chair, U.S. Green Building Council. “The donated greenery brings the natural environment indoors and transforms our office space into a space that is enjoyable, attractive and engaging.” The USGBC Washington, D.C., headquarters was awarded a LEED Platinum certification honoring the innovation, design and improved indoor environmental attributes that Initial Tropical Plants’ interior landscaping brought to the facility.

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