Studio RED Designed Houston Permitting Center Receives LEED Gold Certification


In February, the Department of Public Works and Engineering unveiled the LEED Gold Certification for the City of Houston Permitting Center. The 5-story building, originally built in the 1920’s, was renovated in 2010 using sustainable building practices and green technology, and was awarded the LEED certification in November of 2012.

Studio RED Architects was selected to design the renovation, and utilized a range of green technology and sustainable design components to achieve the efficiency the city was looking for. One of the most notable of these components is the open design that utilizes natural light throughout the building, reducing its reliance on florescents. Occupancy sensors were also used to help conserve energy by automatically turning off lights in vacant rooms.

A number of efficient systems were put in place to minimize the building’s energy and water consumption. A vegetated roof system was installed to help keep the building cool. It is watered by condensate from the frictionless HVAC system, reducing the amount of potable water the building draws from the city supply. A rainwater harvesting system and efficient plumbing also help in water conservation.

Sustainable building practices were used in the construction phase as well. 88% of the building’s construction waste was recycled. The wood can be repurposed as mulch, the concrete as pavement  and the metal will be recast into new materials. Paints, sealants and flooring materials were all carefully selected to ensure that none contained volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), which can emit harmful gases.

In addition to the City of Houston Permitting Center, the building also houses the Green Building Resource Center where visitors can browse over 50 displays of green technology and materials and consult with Public Works and Engineering staff on ways to make their building plans more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

The new Houston Permitting Center is a green project success. With energy consumption 28% lower than comparable structures built using traditional standards, the green technology is paying off. The new building has seen a reduction of $.75 per square feet in energy cost, saving $86,000 annually- and improvements are still being made. Since its review for the LEED certification, the building has seen the addition of 4 wind turbines and 374 solar panels, which generate an estimated 4% of the building’s energy requirements.

Studio RED Architects is encouraged by the LEED Gold Certification, and hopes it inspires developers throughout the city to invest in sustainable design and building practices.

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