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NEEA's Office Space Earns Platinum LEED Rating

Veronica Marzilli
Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) - Portland

John Chilson
Colehour + Cohen - Portland


NEEA's Office Space Earns Platinum LEED Rating

LEED-CI Platinum certification is most recognized green benchmark for commercial tenant improvement

Related Documents:

NEEA's LEED scorecard

Portland, Ore. – The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) announced today that its office space, located in the historic Commonwealth building in downtown Portland, has achieved U.S. Green Building Council LEED for Commercial Interiors (LEED-CI) Platinum certification. The rating is the green benchmark for the tenant improvement market and the recognized system for certifying high-performance green interiors. These spaces are noted for being healthy and productive places to work. LEED-rated offices are less costly to operate and maintain and have a reduced environmental footprint.

“We are honored to be able to use our office space as a vehicle to promote energy efficiency while walking our talk,” said Claire Fulenwider, executive director, NEEA. “We used the same approach to green leases that we promote through our initiative BetterBricks, including finding partners with like-minded values and priorities.  The takeaway is that no matter what kind of tenant or landlord you are, energy efficiency is good for your bottom line, for workplace productivity and for the environment.”

Some of the key highlights of the LEED-CI Platinum certification include:

  • The space received 84 points (out of 88 applied for);
  • NEEA’s high-performance lighting design uses 53 percent less energy than required by Oregon code;
  • Water-efficiency measures in NEEA’s offices use 44 percent less water than a comparable space without these efficiencies;
  • One hundred percent of furniture in NEEA’s space is certified as meeting requirements for healthy indoor air quality;
  • Most of the building materials contain no or low-VOC (volatile organic compound) content, a key component of indoor air quality;
  • During construction 95 percent of the waste was diverted from landfills, while 29 percent of construction materials contained high-recycled content.

NEEA is located in the historic Commonwealth building, originally named the Equitable Building when it was built in 1948 by renowned architect Pietro Belluschi. The building was the first in the U.S. to use a double-glazing window system and the first large commercial building in the nation to use heat pumps for heating and cooling.

“This partnership with NEEA represents a commitment between landlord and tenant,” said Brett Phillips, director of sustainability for Unico Properties LLC, the building’s owner. “When you marry a green building with a sustainability-minded tenant, you create high-performing building systems that maximize environmental and economic efficiencies.

“NEEA has become an important ally to Unico both as a tenant and as a partner in the sustainability world. And, as an owner with a distinct focus on sustainable building operations, we have made numerous investments at the Commonwealth Building to enable tenants like NEEA to more easily achieve LEED-CI certification. We are honored to collaborate with NEEA on its efforts in achieving this premier green benchmark,” Phillips said.

In addition to Unico, the collaborative team included Brightworks, Ditroen Inc., Colliers International, Convia Inc., Green Building Services, Herman Miller, Lloyd Johnson Consulting, LUMA Lighting, Pacific Office Furnishings, Russell Construction Inc., SmithCFI, Steelcase Inc., and WGS Interiors.
“There was a large team of partners, manufacturers, designers and vendors involved to make this all happen,” said Susan Hermenet, who was in charge of the relocation and maximizing energy efficiency in the new space.  “Their professionalism and knowledge were a key component in a seamless transition into our space while giving us the tools needed for a LEED Platinum rating.”

NEEA’s office space utilizes many sustainable and green attributes that helped garner its rating. The office’s Lighting Power Density (LPD) is .52/W/ft2 and uses 53 percent less energy each year compared to Oregon code.

Open and closed office areas have daylight sensors that dim overhead lamps in response to increased daylight through the large windows. Employee workstations are wired into the Convia energy management system that monitors energy used (by both lighting and plug loads) at employee workstations. An occupancy sensor at each workstation allows for equipment to be turned off automatically when the workstation is vacant, resulting in reduced plug loads.

Marmoleum floors and bamboo countertops were used for the kitchen, which also includes a recycling station for composting food scraps and paper. No-VOC paints were used for the entire office, while employees who bike into work can park their bikes in one of the many bike spaces within the offices.

As part of its “green lease,” NEEA agreed to seek and maintain LEED for Commercial Interiors certification and not use or operate the building in a way that does not conform with the certification. Meanwhile, the building owner agreed to separately sub-meter NEEA’s exclusive electrical usage and cooperate with NEEA during its pursuit of the LEED rating. NEEA has been sharing its practices with other tenants and landlords transparently. For more on the power of a green lease, go here. For more on the partnership with NEEA and Unico, go here.  For more on best practices on designing or retrofitting commercial buildings to maximize energy efficiency, go here.

“NEEA is ‘walking the walk’,” said Phillips. “By earning Platinum LEED status for its office space, NEEA is demonstrating that energy retrofits have both environmental and economic advantages for tenants, owners, buildings, communities, and the entire region.”

The rating is the ninth achieved in the Portland metro area. For a copy of the LEED scorecard, see attached.

Editors: Professional, high-resolution photography is available.


About the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance
The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) is a non-profit organization working to maximize energy efficiency to meet our future energy needs. NEEA is supported by and works in partnership with Bonneville Power Administration, Energy Trust of Oregon and more than 100 Northwest utilities for the benefit of more than 12 million energy consumers. NEEA uses the market power of the region to accelerate the innovation and adoption of energy-efficient products, services and practices. Since 1997, NEEA and its partners have saved enough energy to power more than 568,400 homes each year.  Energy efficiency can satisfy more than half of our new demand for energy, saving money, and keeping the Northwest a healthy and vibrant place to live. For more information, visit

About NEEA’s BetterBricks
BetterBricks is the commercial building initiative of the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA), which is supported by Northwest electric utilities. Through BetterBricks, NEEA advances ideas to accelerate energy savings in new and existing commercial buildings.  BetterBricks education and training, online resources and recognition of industry leaders guide and inspire building professionals to embrace best practices, improve energy performance and achieve their sustainability goals. Visit to connect to these powerful energy ideas and more.

About Unico Properties LLC
Unico is a real estate investor and full-service operator, focused on office and multi-family assets in the Western United States. For more than 60 years its investors and partners have relied on Unico for local knowledge, institutional rigor, and boutique service that consistently deliver results. 

Unico is a leader in the real estate industry in green and sustainable practices.  Through its efforts, Unico has reduced energy consumption by 13 percent per year across its 10 million square foot portfolio. The company earned LEED and LEED®-EB (Existing Buildings) certifications for more than 70 percent of its eligible buildings within its portfolio and has earned ENERGY STAR® labels for 14 of its Class-A office buildings.  Unico received multiple BetterBricks awards, the BOMA Seattle Kilowatt Cup, and the EnviroGuard award, and is a founding member of the Seattle 2030 District.  For more information, visit

Erica Perez
Perez Public Relations
(503) 249-0459

Related Documents:
NEEA's LEED scorecard