Don’t Just Talk the Talk, Walk the Walk: Firm Goes Green
Q&A with Ryan Christ of Issacson Rosenbaum
by Ryan Christ
Question: We all want to be kind to the Earth, but what really prompted the firm to reach for LEED* standards?
Answer: Isaacson Rosenbaum began considering a move to new offices a few years ago. There were plenty of options in the Denver metro area, from older, existing buildings with plenty of character to newer, flashier models with all the latest bells and whistles. In the end, we chose the eighteenth floor of 1001 17th Street in downtown Denver because Miller Global Properties took the additional step to renovate the building into a more sustainable project.
Q: You mentioned the U.S. Green Building Council is processing your LEED certification. What did the firm do, specifically, to meet these green standards?
A: Before we moved in, we installed efficient fixtures which yielded a 30 percent reduction in water usage. We purchased Energy Star-rated equipment. We designed the office space to maximize exposure to natural light. We use day light harvesters and task lighting. Zoned heating and cooling systems will offer occupants control and comfort over their work environment. Indoor air quality will be enhanced by the use of MERV-14 air filters. Air quality will also be improved by the use of low-volatility organic compound (VOCs) paints and adhesive. We use environmentally friendly cleaning products. The remodel of the office allowed us to use reused or rapidly renewable materials with a notable portion of recycled content, for aspects such as recycled-content carpet, recycled-content flooring, countertops with woodchips, wall coverings, etc. Isaacson Rosenbaum will use a third party, in this case another client of the firm, EMC Engineers, Inc., to commission the project.
Q: How did the firm get everyone on board?
A: The firm has a sustainability committee comprised of lawyers and staff whose charge it is to promote green practices, provide policy, monitor compliance with policy and provide earth-friendly activities outside the firm. It is the goal of the committee to go beyond reduction of the use of paper within the office (which is a worthy goal given the large amount of paper that law firms go through) and slowly but surely transform the culture of the firm and get everyone on board with its green initiatives. The firm also has a sustainable development practice group, which helped drive Isaacson Rosenbaum’s choice to upgrade its space.
Q: What did you tell your budget people to get their buy-in?
A: Given current economic circumstances, as it is with all businesses we have to keep our budget lean. Isaacson Rosenbaum had to make some hard decisions to push forward with the LEED certification process and chose products that may cost a bit more but will provide a great return in terms of lower operating costs, enhanced marketability and increased productivity. In the eyes of the firm, it is a small price to pay for an enormous long-term gain. We are looking forward to a bright future in our new space, which will provide a great platform from which Isaacson Rosenbaum can build its sustainable development practice. This move presented our firm with a unique opportunity to make the right choice and not only talk the talk, but walk the walk. If we are to become a leader in sustainable development and set an example for contemporaries, clients and potential clients, it is essential to set a proper tone within our firm’s policies and practices.
* LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a program with the Washington, DC-based nonprofit U.S. Green Building Council. LEED is a rating system on how eco-friendly a building is toward the Earth.
Ryan Christ is a Senior Associate at Isaacson Rosenbaum in Denver. He is a member of the firm’s sustainable development practice group and chair of the firm’s sustainability committee, and he is a LEED-Accredited Professional.