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Inspiring NIKA space earns LEED v3 Platinum Certification

NIKA, a facility operations management and engineering firm, utilized UL’s Sustainability Advisory Services to reach LEED Platinum Certification for their Washington DC headquarters.

Modern conference room

Known for their ingenuity and innovation, NIKA is a facility operations management and engineering firm that delivers comprehensive services and solutions to support the full life cycle of facilities. When NIKA decided to seek a new lease for their company headquarters, which serves the larger Washington DC metro area, they envisioned a cutting-edge space that would inspire creativity, facilitate collaboration and promote sustainability. The team was committed to achieving LEED v3 Platinum Certification for their office space and this drove the integrative design process from site selection to design details.

A sustainable start

NIKA began by signing a lease on the sixth floor of the 2000 Tower Oaks Boulevard building, a nine-story commercial office designed under the highest principles of sustainable and Vastu architecture. This building was the first LEED Platinum office building in the Mid-Atlantic Region, certified under LEED 2. A green lease was signed as part of Tower and NIKA’s mutual commitment to sustainability.

Team overcomes challenges with integrative design

Achieving LEED v3 Platinum certification in a base building certified under LEED v2 brought with it some notable challenges. NIKA assembled a multi-disciplinary team to collaborate on this project and contribute a breadth of expertise. UL served as the LEED experts, Greenman-Pederson, Inc served as the mechanical, plumbing and engineering firm, HITT Contracting was the general contractor and OTJ Architects was the architectural firm. Together, these stakeholders formed a team that applied a fully integrative design approach to ensure the coordination of all aspects of architecture, design, engineering and construction for the overall success of the project. While integrative design does not earn credits toward LEED v3, the team championed this approach, feeling it was essential to the project’s success and ultimately, Platinum-level certification.

With sights set on LEED Platinum Certification, UL worked with the team to outline challenges and critical success factors early on. As an example, while the Towers building was LEED v2 Certified, in order to achieve Platinum Certification, the project team knew they would need to coordinate with the facility owners to revise HVAC systems, core restrooms and parking allocations to meet the latest LEED standards. Greenman-Pederson coordinated with  the commissioning engineer and the technical team from USGBC to achieve Optimize energy performance for the HVAC system, which required modifying systems and settings that served the sixth-floor space. This integrative design approach enabled the team to achieve 28 points under the energy and atmosphere without having to run an energy model.

The project team also worked with the base building to upgrade all core flush and flow fixtures as well as showerheads in the fitness center to bring them up to efficiency levels in line with LEED v3, enabling the project team to earn all 11 water efficiency credits.

A flexible space for use today, tomorrow and beyond

At NIKA Solutions, the building floorplate and expansive ceiling heights create an airy, open environment with an abundance of natural light to support employee wellness and comfort. The floor-to-ceiling glass demountable walls and exposed ducts and pipes create transparency and are ideal zones for the staff to work. From private meeting spaces to bright, inspiring themed rooms, to the full-service cappuccino bar, staff and visitors can choose from a variety of spaces designed to meet their particular needs, mood or engagement methods to foster productivity, creativity and wellness. The hoteling stations incorporated into the design equip NIKA with flexible solutions for a fast-growing business without reducing productivity. Every effort was made to thoughtfully design the space to support occupant health and wellness, to champion the most robust sustainability principles as well as to accommodate evolving space performance needs.

A building space for people

One look at NIKA’s space and it’s obvious it was built to welcome and accommodate people. With bright, inviting spaces that incorporate the LEED v3 Platinum indoor environmental quality and materials and resources features designed with occupant health and wellness in mind, NIKA has gone above and beyond to design spaces that inspire and protect employees and guests and champion sustainability.

From the moment people enter the space, NIKA encourages mindfulness in the reception area with a biophilic logo design and a celebration of culture and place with architectural materials and access to daylight. The space invites a constant connection to nature with materials that lower glare and maximize natural light throughout the space. Baffles in the open ceiling system control noise levels while the white noise system allows for soft impacts for productivity among the open spaces. The sit/stand desk systems and a variety of ergonomic seating options support comfort and wellness. Healthy nourishment is encouraged with a pantry offering healthy snacks with nutrition labels.

Material selection was a primary consideration toward achieving sustainability. The construction team helped achieve 94% construction waste diversion and 10% recycled and regional materials in addition to ensuring low emitting materials were used on the project.

The project did face some challenges with furniture selection which led to points being lost under materials and resources and indoor environmental quality sections. The project team regrouped and ensured all innovation points were pursued to make up for points lost.

NIKA also adopted a sustainable purchasing policy to ensure ongoing purchases were sustainable and aligned with NIKA’s commitment to sustainability.

A civic-minded company, NIKA also leverages their space to mobilize community support through efforts including school supply drives, food and toy drives and breast cancer awareness.

Overall, NIKA uses its space to inspire the overall health and wellness of staff and clients.

An inspiring space

NIKA has earned legendary status as a great place to work in Maryland. The company has earned a position on the Washington Post’s list of great places to work, as well as garnered favorable ratings on sites like Glassdoor. Certainly, their facility is a contributing factor and a symbol of the company’s unwavering commitment to people. NIKA proudly received official notification of LEED v3 Platinum Certification on July 11, 2019 and hopes to inspire their industry, the community and people to champion health, wellness and sustainability.

Photo of a blue glass office building with trees in foreground

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