By Taylor Muckerman
This past week, I ventured to New York City with some fellow finance MBA’s from the Smith School to visit with some alumni at their respective jobs. The final day of our trek included a visit to the new Bank of America Tower on the Avenue of the Americas. Our visit here turned out to be more than just a Q & A with an alumn. After our lunch and informational interview session with a Managing Director of the Global Wealth Management division, we were treated to a virtual tour of this grand facility designed by Cook+Fox.
The new building, which opened in 2008, has received LEED Platinum certification. The Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) rating system aims to identify the best practices, materials, and systems for environmentally friendly buildings. This rating is well warranted due to the vast array of eco-friendly features this skyscraper houses:
Water conservation was a main area of concern for Cook+Fox. They estimate that they are saving around 10.3 million gallons of water per year by collecting rainwater on their roof and storing it in tanks located throughout the structure. This captured water is circulated in the building’s cooling system and is also used to flush the toilets. Each men’s restroom also conserves water by utilizing waterless urinals.
In addition to the use of rainwater, the heating and cooling systems employ several other green techniques that improve their energy efficiency. Fire and ice are used on a very large scale to help keep the building’s ambient temperature comfortable without wasting energy. During the hotter months, extremely large blocks of ice are created at night, using off-peak energy, in the basement to help cool the circulating water during the day. As the temperature outside begins to drop, a large gas-fired turbine produces a significant amount of the building’s heat. To help keep the use of their circulatory network more efficient, vents are installed in the floor, so that the air doesn’t have to travel four feet from the ceiling to get to the occupants. This allows the room to heat and cool more quickly than one utilizing ceiling vents.
Cook+Fox didn’t let their creativity stop there, as they have equipped the outer rooms with sunlight sensors to automatically dim the lights in those rooms when there is sufficient natural light to light the room. They have also installed occupancy sensors in all rooms so that the lights shut off after the room has been vacant for a specified amount of time. Along with these power saving techniques, the building also produces some of its own energy on site.
By harnessing all these resource conserving technologies, Bank of America and the buildings other inhabitants will reap financial benefits year in, and year out. The architects predict that the payback period for the project is just a few years. We all know that the bottom-line is very important to corporate America; hopefully other Fortune 500 companies will begin to take notice of how cost-effective green technology can really be and deploy these and other approaches when planning their next structural endeavor.
Taylor is a First-Year MBA student at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. He is focusing on Finance with an emphasis on equity research and private wealth management. He is originally from Charlotte, NC, the home of Bank of America.