If it were only a case of “practice what you preach,” the sustainably designed Midwest offices of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) would offer an impressive enough example, with a new space that exploits daylight and incorporates reclaimed materials. But this esteemed environmental-action group and its architect, Studio Gang, wanted to set a new standard. The project surpasses LEED Platinum to become the world's first tenant retrofit to achieve certification through the Living Building Challenge, the built environment's most rigorous performance standard. More than that, though, the office is a stunning workplace, with a carefully considered layout that caters to the unique needs of the Chicago branch of the organization's small but growing staff of lawyers, economists, engineers, communications specialists, and policy experts.
“When we asked ourselves, 'What kind of measure do we want to use?' ” explains Studio Gang principal Jeanne Gang, “we realized that by taking on the Living Building Challenge, we essentially joined the movement to require transparency in the content of building materials. That has the potential to transform the industry faster.”