Jul 23, 2019

LEEDing the way: The REACH at the Kennedy Center

How our expansion is embracing sustainability

Kennedy Center REACH campus

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) was established as a priority early in the planning phase for The REACH at the Kennedy Center, our 65,000 square-foot expansion opening to the public in September.

Here are some of the sustainable building features that were incorporated into the project broken out by LEED Project Categories:

Sustainable Sites 

  • The Kennedy Center is inherently sustainable based on our urban location. There are many neighborhood amenities within a half-mile walking distance including the Lincoln Memorial, restaurants, dry cleaners, and places of worship.
  • Patrons and performers are encouraged to use public transit as an alternative to personal vehicles.
  • Low-emitting, fuel-efficient vehicles are provided with electric vehicle charging stations in our parking garage.
  • The landscape was designed to promote biodiversity and protect natural habitat.
  • Rainwater is typically piped away, causing sewers to be overloaded and leading to flooding during large storms. We took a different approach at the REACH and reduced the amount of runoff by almost 60%, using native and adapted vegetation.
  • The REACH building mitigates heat absorption by locating all parking underground, primarily under vegetated roofing.

Water Efficiency 

  • Water conserving plumbing fixtures are installed including dual-flush toilets, pint-flush urinals, low-flow showers, and kitchen faucets. These fixtures reduce water consumption by about 130,000 gallons per year, almost 40% compared to conventional building fixtures!
yoga on lawn at Kennedy Center REACH campus
Pictured here: The REACH’s Welcome Pavilion (L) and Skylight Pavilion-Video Wall (R)

Energy & Atmosphere 

  • An energy efficient hybrid system was designed to create supplemental cooling and heating with a closed-loop geothermal system to reduce the environmental impact associated with grid-sourced energy.
  • The REACH building is served with chilled water from the existing Kennedy Center chiller plant, which consists of four 800-ton chillers, cooled by condenser water from the Potomac River.
  • Ventilation is partially provided by energy-efficient displacement ventilation.
  • Energy-efficiency measures for lighting include stand-alone and room-based lighting controls for interior spaces such as rehearsal rooms, studios, offices, and back-of-house room.
  • Radiant systems, ground source heat pump, and low-E windows resulted in a modeled energy savings of 20% over a similar conventionally designed building.
  • Refrigerants in cooling systems can cause ozone depletion and contribute to global warming. Refrigerants for the new air conditioning and heat pumps, in addition to the central plan chillers, were selected to minimize these effects.
  • We opted to “green” our power source for the REACH by offsetting 35% of the total annual electricity use.
acoustic crinkle concrete wall material
Pictured here: The REACH’s Acoustic Crinkle Concrete Walls

Materials & Resources 

  • Recycling receptacles for paper/corrugated cardboard, glass, plastic, and metal are located throughout the building.
  • More than 75% of all construction waste was recycled rather than sent to the landfill.
  • More than 10% of the materials used to construct the building contain recycled content. Over 20% of the building materials were manufactured and extracted within a 500-mile radius of the building.
Kennedy Center REACH Justice Forum
Pictured here: The REACH’s Justice Forum

Indoor Environmental Quality 

  • Low-emitting paints, sealants, and flooring were used to protect the health and well-being of our patrons from the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are typically found in these products, which negatively affect respiration.
  • The Kennedy Center has a strict no smoking policy. No smoking is allowed inside the building or on the Entrance Plaza in front of the building.
  • To ensure clean air in the breathing zone similar to outdoors levels of carbon dioxide, CO2 detectors are installed in all densely occupied spaces, and outdoor airflow measurement devices are located in other spaces.
  • Additional measures to improve the indoor air quality (IAQ) include the dedicated outside air system that provides 30% more ventilation than ASHRAE standards, high filtration and walk-off systems at building entrances to trap dirt from entering the building.
  • Spaces are designed to optimize temperature and humidity, and 100% of occupants can control the lighting in their spaces by using dimmers, switching, and vacancy sensors.
  • To further a commitment to occupant health and well-being, the Kennedy Center has a Green Housekeeping policy which requires less toxic cleaning products and practices.
Dancers in Kennedy Center REACH Justice Forum
Pictured here: members of Dance Theatre of Harlem in Studio K at the REACH.