Bulk LEED Certification Requested by PNC Bank

A perfectly predictable progression for corporate America: LEED certify a bank building; then, discover money is saved and customers like it. For the follow on, look for a way to "clone" a design for several branch locations under one certification. According to a recent article in "Building Design and Construction" PNC Bank is pursuing a 90-building project based on a similar notion. If regional design issues with landscaping, solar gain, stormwater managment, and so on, can be accomodated; and, the LEED process is preserved, why not?. The certification and architectural fees...reportedly planning and architectural costs are one of the big reasons "building green" costs more..would drop significantly. Plus, sales volumes would go way up for those who pioneered green materials. Given the thousands of commercial buildings and franchises put up every year, this project could mark the onset of a new era in Green Building.From recent "Building Design and Construction" magazine here are a few excerpts.

"... Many would like to construct environmentally friendly structures and be LEED-certified by the U.S. Green Building Council, but the approval process is complex and the administrative cost of submitting a new application for each new building has deterred retail companies from applying for certification".

"But PNC Bank, a Pittsburgh-based financial services company and the nation's 15th-largest bank, is trying to change that with a new Gensler-designed green prototype that it wants the USGBC to "volume-approve" for 90 or more branches it plans to construct in the next three years"

Selected features listed below:

30% overall energy reduction.

Daylight maximized without creating glare or heat through the use of clerestory skylights.

75% construction waste reduction includes a contract to store and recycle waste.

Interior green materials...include countertops made from recycled paper, FSC-certified wood, low-VOC paints and carpeting, and cabinetry made from wheatboard.

Carpeting, wall coverings, and furniture fabric are made with least 50% recycled content.

Closing thought: TreeHugger has not yet seen a drawing or photo of what these branches might look like. But from the features listed, naturalizing elements seem to be lacking. Not surprising, given the architectural history of US banks, which generally revolved around presenting a Greco-Roman facade to symbolize permanence and security. Faux pillars and hardened safety glass in overdone strip mall presentations are what come to mind. At any rate, money now moves primarily in cyberspace, the place where security rubber meets the road. Would not now be the perfect time to find a new architectural paradigm to symbolize security and embody confidence in protocol? Folding "natural capital" into the digital age, with booths for customers to stop in for some on-line services at their own behest, seems like a good one.