What was the impetus to pursue LEED Gold?

HSBC has a company policy to reduce their carbon footprint. Usually, the most difficult part is getting the client on board with green design, but HSBC already wanted to build a building that was good for the planet and their employees.

Good for their employees how?

We started by looking at glazing specifications to improve the amount of daylight. Then we speced low-partition furniture systems to achieve as much light penetration as possible. Limiting the amount of closed office spaces also allowed for better light and air quality. There are only nine closed offices in a building that houses nearly 2,000 employees.

  • Javier Presas

    Credit: Jorge Vertiz

    Javier Presas

How did the open-space planning help with LEED points?

LEED merely pushed our plans further. For example, we like to isolate printers, fax machines, and copiers. With LEED, we had to install a separate exhaust for those machines, so we created a utility oasis with copying, etc., and added a vending/coffee area.

What was the biggest challenge with the project?

The building wasn't our design—we came in midconstruction. The developer hired us to improve the building. That's when HSBC became interested. They hired us to do the interiors and get the building qualified for LEED. None of us had participated on a LEED project before, so that was a big learning curve.

Project: HSBC Mexico Headquarters, Mexico City
Architect: HOK (Mexico City office)—Javier Presas (project architect)
Cost: $150 million
Size: 400,000 s.f.


  • Roof garden
Green Roof Systems de México
grsm.com.mx
The 4,000-square-foot green roof atop the parking garage provides verdant views for employees. It also contributed to the heat island credit, notes Presas. Designed by local company Green Roof Systems de México, the indigenous plantings-including aloe vera (in black box, above)-require little maintenance, absorb carbon monoxide from the air, produce oxygen, and reduce ambient temperatures.

    Credit: Green Roof Systems de México

    Roof garden Green Roof Systems de México grsm.com.mx The 4,000-square-foot green roof atop the parking garage provides verdant views for employees. "It also contributed to the heat island credit," notes Presas. Designed by local company Green Roof Systems de México, the indigenous plantings-including aloe vera (in black box, above)-require little maintenance, absorb carbon monoxide from the air, produce oxygen, and reduce ambient temperatures.


  • Acqua 100 low-VOC paint Comex www.comexnet.com.mx HOK went the extra mile by sourcing local products when possible, including low-VOC paint from Mexican company Comex. It was a challenge to document local sources, says Presas, because sustainability data on local products is measured differently than LEED guidelines. In the end, HOK got credit not just for the paint, but for benefiting outdoor air quality through reduced vehicle fumes.

    Credit: HOK

    Acqua 100 low-VOC paint Comex www.comexnet.com.mx HOK went the extra mile by sourcing local products when possible, including low-VOC paint from Mexican company Comex. "It was a challenge to document local sources," says Presas, "because sustainability data on local products is measured differently than LEED guidelines." In the end, HOK got credit not just for the paint, but for benefiting outdoor air quality through reduced vehicle fumes.


  • MaxE centrifugal water chiller
York by Johnson Controls
york.com
HCFCs are greenhouse gases, so HOK chose an HVAC system that uses an ozone-friendly refrigerant along with water from the stormwater-gathering system to cool the air pumped into the building. York's MaxE electric-drive chiller uses HFC- 134a, a haloalkane refrigerant that doesn't deplete ozone. The system also features a patented OptiSpeed electric-drive motor that uses up to 30 percent less energy than standard systems.

    Credit: HOK

    MaxE centrifugal water chiller York by Johnson Controls york.com HCFCs are greenhouse gases, so HOK chose an HVAC system that uses an ozone-friendly refrigerant along with water from the stormwater-gathering system to cool the air pumped into the building. York's MaxE electric-drive chiller uses HFC- 134a, a haloalkane refrigerant that doesn't deplete ozone. The system also features a patented OptiSpeed electric-drive motor that uses up to 30 percent less energy than standard systems.


  • Low-VOC carpeting
Shaw Contract Group
shawcontractgroup.com
HOK speced carpeting with recycled content and low VOCs for better indoor air quality. Shown above is a customordered pattern from Shaw's eco-friendly collections. The tiles feature Shaw's EcoWorx backing, which is PVC-free and contains 40 percent recycled content. Both the EcoWorx backing and the face fiber, Eco Solution Q nylon, can be recycled into new carpeting at the end of their useful lives.

    Credit: HOK

    Low-VOC carpeting Shaw Contract Group shawcontractgroup.com HOK speced carpeting with recycled content and low VOCs for better indoor air quality. Shown above is a customordered pattern from Shaw's eco-friendly collections. The tiles feature Shaw's EcoWorx backing, which is PVC-free and contains 40 percent recycled content. Both the EcoWorx backing and the face fiber, Eco Solution Q nylon, can be recycled into new carpeting at the end of their useful lives.


  • Freesia waterless urinal
Falcon Waterfree Technologies
falconwaterfree.com
All of the building's toilets and faucets conserve water, especially the waterless urinals. Falcon's patented, funnel-shaped cartridge (in the urinal's base, above) contains a liquid sealant that creates an airtight barrier between the liquid waste and the bathroom. In addition to saving thousands of gallons of water each year, the cartridges need replacing only two to four times annually.

    Credit: HOK

    Freesia waterless urinal Falcon Waterfree Technologies falconwaterfree.com All of the building's toilets and faucets conserve water, especially the waterless urinals. Falcon's patented, funnel-shaped cartridge (in the urinal's base, above) contains a liquid sealant that creates an airtight barrier between the liquid waste and the bathroom. In addition to saving thousands of gallons of water each year, the cartridges need replacing only two to four times annually.