INDIANAPOLIS - An Indianapolis-based sustainable architecture and engineering firm has received a major energy efficiency certification. Guidon Design Inc. new downtown Indy office has been certified as a LEED v4 Platinum facility, the first in the state to receive such a designation. The firm says it invested $2.6 million in the project, which aimed to achieve high performance in sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, daylight and indoor environmental quality.

The more than 22,000-square-foot building near 12th & Pennsylvania Streets was built in 1968 and originally served as the city's FBI headquarters. It sat vacant for nearly 40 years. Luke Leising, president of Guidon design, says the firm took a systematic approach early into the process, which began before they found a building.

"We were able to renovate (the building) and maintain what is a pretty tight budget, but we were able to do that by setting some really high energy goals that (would make) this building one of the, by far, better performing buildings of its type in the area. So by setting those goals and really putting a lot of design effort and mental thought into how we design it, how we design efficiently and cost effectively, we were able to achieve those benchmarks."

LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council and awards certifications for buildings based on several categories, including water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality and innovation, among others. The Platinum certification is the highest level a building can receive.

Among the efforts to achieve its goals, the firm says it selected an HVAC system that resuses all available heating and cooling in the building and a 92-panel solar power system that provides 32 kW of power, or roughly 40% of the building's projected energy use.

Guidon also incorporated daylighting into the design process through a lightwell with a vegetated roof, which it says turned the most unattractive portion of the building into the spot with the best light and views. The firm also added solatubes, or high-tech skylights, to provide daylight to interior offices.

The firm also reused more than 75% of the existing structure during the renovation process, including more than 50% of the original exterior building surface. Guidon added alternative transportation options to the building, including indoor and outdoor bicycle storage.

Guidon says the goal is to achieve very low energy use intensity (EUI), which is the amount of energy used per square foot in a building annually. Leising says the building's EUI information isn't yet available because there isn't a year's worth of data, but he expects the building to be in the top 10% to 15% of buildings.

As a result of the firm's efforts, Guidon says its headquarters now performs 85% better than an average office building. Leising says the certification is a representation of how Guidon does its work and now the firm wants to build off the lessons learned throughout the process and apply them for clients who want their own efficient, sustainable office buildings.

Leising adds the certification has benefits beyond just financial savings.

"Hiring's challenging right now and when young professionals come and see an office building that has the amenities that not all other offices will have, such as showers and exercise space for people to use, great quality daylight and views, everything down to fresh fruit in the break room, it helps us find the best professionals available. For some people, they will have no idea what a LEED certification is, but the items that we selected to go into this building are things that are tangible, that they look at every day."

Guidon is currently working on the LEED certification for the new Indiana University Health Bloomington Hospital building, which is currently under construction.