The Law Office of Transit & Reuse

by Kelli McElhinny

This article originally appeared on Green Building + Design magazine


When the time came to renew the lease on its Newark, New Jersey, office, the law firm of McCarter & English explored a variety of options. Its space hadn’t been renovated in more than two decades, and it was in dire need of some updates.

“That precipitated a rethinking of our space,” says Michael Guariglia, managing partner of the firm’s Newark office.

Michael Guariglia

Rather than relocate, the firm decided to stay put and took advantage of the opportunity to introduce the same sort of eco-friendly construction that its clients often pursue.

“We decided we were going to do it right and include sustainable design,” he says.

Michael Guariglia

The renovation underscores one of the firm’s focus areas. McCarter & English’s Construction Practice Group has demonstrated a commitment to sustainable construction. Four of the firm’s construction attorneys are LEED APs. Mary Jane Augustine, a McCarter & English partner in the group, says that only a few hundred attorneys in the entire country have received that designation.

“It would be very unfortunate if we were out there preaching this and didn’t follow through on it ourselves,” she says.

Mary Jane Augustine

Completed in 2011, the renovations created a space that features a new, centralized 22,000-square-foot conference center and 110,000 square feet of space on five practice floors. The project earned LEED-CI Gold for the workspace renovations and LEED Silver in the same category for the conference center.

The constraints of the lease and other building characteristics prevented the firm from incorporating major green features, such as geothermal heat or high-performance windows (“We have certain limitations with the building,” Augustine says), but the efforts of global architecture firm Gensler helped McCarter & English overcome many of the obstacles.

“McCarter had the foresight to look beyond the components that made up their existing space to understand what went into its original creation,” says Anthony Brower, a senior associate at Gensler. “Nearly 70 percent of the original components within their space were preserved as part of the new design.”

Anthony Brower

Robert Derector Associates contributed to the LEED effort and coordinated the review of the project’s green features, which were small but significant: Low-efficiency plumbing fixtures from TOTO and Sloan Valve Company save 400,000 gallons of water each year and send it back to the Newark watershed.

Benjamin Moore and Scuffmaster low-VOC paints contribute to air quality, as do green cleaning products and carpets made from recycled materials from Re:Source New Jersey. LED lighting fixtures by Nessen and Winona Lighting help reduce energy use, and more than 75 percent of construction waste was diverted from landfills. In addition to the upgrades, preserving what was already in place also emerged as a sustainability strategy.

“The big goal was to take our space and reuse as much as possible,” says Michael Schetlick, director of facilities at McCarter & English.

Michael Schetlick

The firm kept as much furniture as possible and maintained essentially the same carbon footprint by using appropriate conservation measures.

The project’s location also earned it LEED points. The law firm’s offices are in a building attached to Penn Station, Newark’s transportation hub. This provides the 500 Newark-based McCarter & English employees the option of nearly any form of public transit.

“From a transportation standpoint, it’s very green,” Augustine says.

Mary Jane Augustine

The project’s final perk is that the updated space helps to sell clients on services and serves as a recruiting tool to attract new employees, many of whom are increasingly interested in a healthful work environment.

Project Details
Client: Marter & English
Location: Newark, NJ
Architect: Gensler
Completed: 2011
Area: 132,000 sf
Site: Attached to Newark’s major transportation hub
Materials: Low-VOC paints and finishes, refurbished furniture
Water: 400,000 gallons saved annually via low-flow fixtures, toilets, and urinals

Awards
2011 LEED-CI Gold - Workplace Interiors
2011 LEED-CI Silver - Conference Center


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