Showing, Not Just Telling: Accenture’s NYC Innovation Hub Reflects Workplace Best Practices

In the world of business consulting, Accenture is one step ahead. The consulting giant advises some of the largest worldwide corporations on creating business environments that attract top talent and promote wellness, productivity, and energy efficiency. In keeping with these aspirations, Accenture’s new LEED Gold® office in New York City’s Hudson Yards serves as a model for clients to follow.

Syska’s role on the 280,000-square-foot buildout included the design of MEP, fire protection, and building management systems. Connections spoke with Scott Fitzsimmons, PE, LEED AP, who served as project manager and lead mechanical engineer, to learn more about the features that help make the facility so inviting.

Occupant Comfort

Syska’s HVAC designs addressed ambitious targets for thermal and acoustic comfort. According to Scott, all conference and collaboration spaces had to achieve a maximum noise criteria (NC) rating of 30, which equates to 30-35 decibels and is considered “very quiet.” The same spaces had to accommodate as many as 24 people without sacrificing thermal comfort.

To achieve these targets, Syska supplemented the base-building HVAC system, which was designed with low-temperature supply air, with fan-powered boxes to deliver the supply air to the spaces. To mitigate noise from the boxes, Syska chose larger units with lower-than-standard airflow ranges and equipped the boxes with internal and external sound attenuators. On the thermal comfort front, Syska designed complex control sequences, reheat coils, and demand-controlled ventilation. Such measures have helped position the office to obtain WELL Platinum certification.

Additional measures that support the WELL standard include Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) lighting and indoor air quality (IAQ) sensors, both of which improve occupant productivity and health. The PoE lighting enables much greater control of light levels and temperatures than standard lighting systems,” notes Scott. By incorporating environmental sensors into the PoE lighting, as the team did with the Accenture office, it will allow Accenture to monitor space utilization. Scott views this kind of integration as a catalyst for the transformation of the office into an intelligent space. The IAQ sensors, meanwhile, track IAQ data for Accenture’s analysis and alert the facilities team to any potential concerns.

Sustainability

Tracking plays a similarly important role in the office’s sustainability. Because Accenture documents its energy use globally, metering represented a critical component of the project. Syska worked closely with Accenture’s global energy services team in London to determine the locations and exact uses of meters. “We had to adhere to Accenture’s policies on logging the data and formatting it so it would seamlessly integrate into Accenture’s global platform,” Scott explains. The resulting design featured BTU energy meters for usage of condenser and hot water systems along with pulse data on natural gas and electrical usage. The data is recorded in 15-minute intervals through the building management system and is exported hourly to the Accenture platform.

“This kind of tracking is complicated to implement, but it really helps companies assess their energy use and identify areas where they could improve efficiency,” says Scott. He adds that the Accenture project makes clear that energy efficiency and occupant comfort are not mutually exclusive.

Outcome

“I’ve heard nothing but positive feedback about the office,” Scott reports. “Everyone views it as a high-end, top-tier example of what companies can do with their spaces. For a consulting firm that advises clients on improving their workplaces, the Innovation Hub is an ideal way to demonstrate the translation of theory into practice.”

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