Net-zero energy bank for Florida

05 Sep 2012

Gensler designs PNC Bank's most efficient outlet thus far, exceeding LEED Platinum

PNC Bank recently announced that its new net-zero energy bank branch is scheduled to open in early 2013. PNC expects the branch to exceed LEED Platinum certification and to be its most energy efficient yet, using 50% less energy than typical branches. The 4,900 sq ft building will be located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

“This is another example of PNC’s commitment to innovation and energy efficiency,” said Gary Saulson, PNC’s director of Corporate Real Estate. “We expect the net-zero energy branch to spur business growth and development in the area. Ultimately, we hope it will inspire other businesses to adopt similar green building practices.”

PNC has 118 newly constructed LEED-certified buildings, which is more than any other company in the world. The Fort Lauderdale branch will feature innovative green technology and facilities, including 211 solar panels, a fitness path for the public, paving designed to reduce rainwater runoff, high-efficiency LED lights and Energy Star appliances. Some of these may become standard in the next generation of PNC’s green buildings.

The branch will also feature daylight harvesting along with the solar energy used. The building will be powered by the sun using the most efficient photovoltaic (solar) panels on the commercial market. Daylight harvesting will be achieved through the use of sensors that control dimmable light fixtures as natural sunlight increases.

Occupancy sensors will prompt lights and computer monitors to shut off automatically in unoccupied spaces, and energy recovery ventilation will capture and transfer energy from conditioned air as it exits the building to fresh air as it enters the building and results in reduced cooling costs. PNC is using local and recycled building resources for structural and shell materials, as well as finishes.

The landscape design is composed of native Florida species, minimising irrigation needs. Natural drainage channels lined with plants will filter out pollutants and permit ground absorption, diverting 90 percent of site storm water from sewer systems. A canopy covers the building’s southern exposure to reflect sun during the hottest part of the day while allowing natural daylight into the building, resulting in reduced cooling costs.

These and other features will yield annual energy savings equivalent to the energy needed to power a 1,600 sq ft house for one year. “Cutting energy consumption in a building by 50 percent compared to code and adding renewable generation requires corporate commitment and a strong eye toward strategy,” said Michael Baechler, senior program manager at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. “Over the past few years, PNC has taught the DOE and national labs how corporations can manage and benefit from a commitment to energy efficiency.”

PNC Bank collaborated with Gensler and the Department of Energy as part of the DOE’s Net-Zero Energy Commercial Building Initiative, which aims to significantly improve the energy efficiency of new and existing commercial buildings. Gensler has worked with PNC since 2006 and is the design architect, while Paladino & Company has worked with PNC since 1998 serving as sustainability and green building consultant.

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