By Daniel Whittet

Network Drive is a commercial office center located in Burlington, Massachusetts originally developed as a campus for the computer software company Sun Microsystems in 1997. Currently owned by Network Drive Owner LLC, there are now seven office buildings sharing close to 1 million sf of office and research space supporting high-tech companies with a combined central utility plant centered on 114 acres of land.

The LEED project boundary encompasses 80 acres of landscaped grounds and hardscape close to the buildings creating the campus, which is surrounded by 34 acres of native conservation land. Originally conceived by Sun Microsystems in the late ’90s to have the look and feel of a university campus, the project was a natural fit for the LEED Campus approach to certification. This method allows buildings to take credit for shared attributes on a site and achieves separate LEED certification for each project, building space, or group.

As part of the LEED attempt, Network Drive management worked with AHA Consulting Engineers to benchmark and initiate several innovative approaches to improving the campus environment while reducing energy and resource consumption. A completely new front end to the original building operation system was completed with a recommissioning and upgrade of controls. Parking lot lighting was converted to LEDs with a Zigbee Mesh Network control system that allows pinpoint management of site lighting to reduce energy consumption and light pollution while improving safety. Water use was reduced 30% in buildings and 75% on the landscape irrigation. Transportation options were implemented that included a bike-sharing service and regular shuttle initiatives to reduce conventional commuting trips by 31%.

The connected landscape and walkways of the site allowed the project to receive credit for sustainable food purchases at the centrally located Sebastian's café. The spacious dining facility uses organic local produce and seafood from Reds Best, a local networked seafood provider. A project with Green City Growers also allows tenants to get fresh produce from raised-bed gardens onsite, which contributed to a LEED Pilot credit, and the waste diversion policy includes composting of all food waste at an offsite location.

The LEED project team was able to use the building automation system upgrade to initiate a monitoring-based ongoing commissioning plan that includes fault testing algorithms and system optimization. A flat plate heat exchanger in the central plant provides free cooling for intensive data center spaces during winter months.

The comprehensive LEED EBOM rating system involves a performance period during which project team members initiate plans, policies, benchmarking, and recommissioning of building assets to upgrade properties and the environment around them. “LEED for Existing Buildings Operation and Maintenance (EBOM) is a challenging and time-consuming process,” stated Patrick O’Neill, assistant vice president of Nordblom Management Company. “We feel the outstanding success of the Network Drive certifications is a testament to the quality of the original design and the commitment of the management team to continuous improvement.”

All the buildings have been awarded LEED EBOM Gold with Energy Star scores above 80.

Daniel Whittet, LEED AP, is a sustainability consultant at AHA Consulting Engineers.

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