NS Headquarters Earns LEED ‘Gold’ CertificationWritten by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
Norfolk Southern’s (NS) new headquarters building in Atlanta, Ga., has been awarded LEED® Gold certification for sustainable design and construction.
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), “is the most widely used green building rating system in the world and an international symbol of excellence,” reported NS, which formally opened its headquarters at 650 West Peachtree in Atlanta—the city and operational home of NS predecessor Southern Railway—on Nov. 10, 2021.
Under the new LEED v4 standards, the 750,000-square-foot building received 62 points out of a possible 110 in nine categories, according to the Class I railroad. USGBC awarded the project all points in the Water Efficiency category and all or the majority of points in three others: Location and Transportation, Sustainable Sites, and Innovation in Design.
Among the project’s features in these categories:
• Water Efficiency: “The rainwater captured through the campus and rooftop is reclaimed for reuse, resulting in water use reductions for irrigation by 100% and cooling tower demand by approximately 80% over a typical office building,” NS said.
• Location and Transportation: The property “is surrounded by high-density development including a Walk Score of 90 ‘Walker’s Paradise,’” and earned “top scores for access to quality transit and a reduced parking footprint with ample electric-vehicle charging stations,” the railroad reported.
• Sustainable Sites: The building was designed “to maximize open space, rainwater management, and heat island reduction using ground-level gardens and seven different rooftop terraces throughout the campus,” according to NS.
• Innovation in Design: The building features “innovative design aspects directly linked to employee health and wellness,” NS reported. “These include easy access to open stairwells with floor-to-ceiling glass walls and views of the city; adjustable, ergonomic workstations; a state-of-the-art fitness center with a large rooftop space; and more.”
Building construction and design partners include Cousins Properties; HITT Contracting; HKS, Inc.; HOK; Holder Construction; JLL; and Pickard Chilton.
“Achieving LEED certification is more than just implementing sustainable practices,” USGBC President and CEO Peter Templeton said. “It represents a commitment to making the world a better place and influencing others to do better. Given the extraordinary importance of climate protection and the central role buildings play in that effort, Norfolk Southern is creating a path forward through [its] LEED certification.”
“Railroads are an essential part of a low-carbon supply chain, so it was important for our headquarters to reflect that commitment to sustainability,” NS Executive Vice President and Chief Transformation Officer Annie Adams said. “Our headquarters was built with advanced technology and sustainable features that create an exceptional experience for our employees and attract the world-class talent that exists in Atlanta.”
In related developments, Bay Area Rapid Transit’s new parts warehouse in the Hayward (California) Maintenance Complex was awarded LEED Silver Certification for sustainability in July 2021.