Obayashi’s New Green Building Gains Worldwide Recognition

TOKYO, Japan — Obayashi Corporation’s Technical Research Institute (TRI) Techno Station has taken international attention with its high levels of achievement in two green building certification programs.

The research and technical development (R&D) facility has received both LEED-EBOM Platinum and an S Rank in Japan’s Comprehensive Assessment System for Built Environment Efficiency (CASBEE). Obayashi Corporation wanted the facility to receive both certifications to boost international recognition.

“We thought that enabling ourselves to share information of outstanding advanced cases not only in Japan, but also abroad, will be effective in promoting green building and sustainable building and that a high level certification in LEED, which is known worldwide, will be important to make that happen,” said Hajime Onojima, general manger of the environment solution department, technology division with Obayashi.

The nearly 60,000-square-foot facility was constructed through collaboration with San Francisco-headquartered Webcor Builders, which is Obayashi Group’s subsidiary in the U.S. Webcor Builders served as the LEED consultant for the project. Webcor Builders contracted Environmental Building Strategies (EBS) to evaluate the building’s energy performance. With 95 points, the facility currently has the third-highest LEED score under LEED-EBOM v2009 in the world.

It was also important for the project to set high sustainability standards for the project because of the mission of the building itself. The Techno Station tests buildings designs and technologies for potential implementation in Obayashi’s construction projects.

“This building was constructed with the goal of achieving the highest levels of sustainability possible, as well as providing a model for global sustainable design and construction,” said Jake Arlein, partner/director of certification services with EBS. “Achieving the highest-level CASBEE certification ever was a testament to the success of the design and construction efforts. The LEED EBOM process brought to light the continued ongoing performance of the building, helping the actual workers in the building along with building ownership truly appreciate the benefits of sustainable design and construction.”

An advanced Building Management System tracks the performance of all the building systems. The project team also used iLiv Technologies cloud-based platform All-In project management tool to maintain strong communication overseas.

The All-In system maintained transparency and collaboration and was the best strategy to keep all project team members in harmony on the process, according to Megan White, sustainability manager and LEED consultant with Webcor Builders.

“The software allows for documents to be shared in a single location, assigns action items and deliverables that automatically update between time zones and the ongoing tracking of communication between project team members,” she said. “The project team now has 100 percent of the process recorded in the All-In platform to refer to as examples for future LEED projects.”

The TRI Techno Station also employs a first-of-its kind Dedicated Outside Air System for optimal ventilation and temperature control. The system is automated through carbon dioxide and temperature sensors throughout the building. Other green features include a 150 kW photovoltaic system, wind power, geothermal system, rainwater and well water treatment system, and slanted roof panels with ventilation slits to allow for daylighting, ventilation and temperature control.

The international green building project, however, was not without its challenges. Along with developing an understanding of two distinct green building certifications, the language barrier between project members was considered the greatest obstacle in the project.

“To execute a new program on top of training, the Obayashi employees in the LEED process required a great deal of translation. Most of the Obayashi team members, or LEED champions as we referred to them, have decent English communication skills. But terms for technical systems and processes can be far more complicated and require an element of creativity when trying to figure out direct translations,” White said. “When all your drawings and documents are in pure Japanese, the team needed to work very closely to figure out exactly what required translation so that we did not provide the GBCI review team with too much unnecessary detail.”

The interest in LEED is growing in Japan, Onojima said, and with the enormous success of TRI Techno Station, Japanese builders are sure to take notice.

“We expect that the LEED Platinum certification for TRI, achieved by the advanced environmental technology in Japan, will be a great motivation for owners and architects to seek for higher environmental goals in their upcoming projects,” Onojima said.

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