Raleigh Offices Going Green

Posted on December 13, 2011


In a typical U.S. office building, energy costs represent nineteen percent of the total operating expenditure according to the Commercial Energy Advisor newsletter, published by the E Source Companies. Lighting, heating, and cooling are the main sources of the energy consumption.

Green Square Complex

When you apply these numbers to a two-block, 172,000 square foot office building, the amount of potential savings in energy costs could be huge. At least, that’s what the designers of the “Green Square Complex,” in Raleigh, North Carolina, are hoping.

The Green Square Complex is a two-building, multi-use sustainable development project to house North Carolina’s Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR) and Museum of Natural Sciences. State officials expect to bring national recognition while at the same time promoting the “Green” movement. These Green buildings are designed to cost less to operate and maintain by incorporating energy and water efficiency techniques, as well as providing a healthier interior environment that promotes employee satisfaction and productivity.

How exactly do you make such large buildings environmentally-friendly and cost efficient? One way was to maximize natural sunlight by building as few interior walls as possible and including many more windows than a typical office building. Using sunlight as much as possible will reduce reliance on electricity, energy bills and the amount of pollution generated by electricity production.

Conservation of water is another critical aspect of the design. Several receptacles capture rainwater, which is treated and recycled for use in toilets and plant watering inside the building. Storm water runoff, North Carolina’s number one cause of water pollution, is also eliminated through this method.

These two buildings have been and are being constructed using low-emission paints and carpentry materials, which makes them even more environmentally-friendly. Construction costs have been greatly minimized by using locally produced building materials such as stone from North Carolina quarries or locally-recycled steel.

Though the complex itself is not completed, employees of the DENR Office moved into their new building in mid-November. When completed, the Green Square Complex will strive for a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certification for the DENR Office Building and the Nature Research Center.

Working in these amazing yet complex structures is both a privilege and a challenge. All occupants have to dedicate themselves to a “Green” mindset. From the custodians and their cleaning supplies to agency directors and their recycling habits, every single person who uses the building must be committed to environmental stewardship.


Reported by Kelsey Hernandez

Posted in: News