Project Completion Year
Project Location: City
Project Location: State
Project Location: Country
United States of America
Sustainable, beautiful, and authentic. Financially viable. The T3 Office building is an architectural response to a cultural shift in the way we work that is in alignment with the values of a new generation of business leadership driven by technology. The design challenge was to deliver the largest speculative office building in North America constructed of wood, in the context of a for-profit real estate development with a finite budget. In addition, to be successful, the project had to present itself in an authentic way. To deliver on this promise, an extraordinary understanding of the systems and methods with which the building is constructed is required, and celebrated through careful detailing. As an architectural design approach, the building is a return to the art of construction. Concrete is left exposed, raw steel and cor-ten facades unpainted, and its mass-timber frame exposed to view throughout. All design decisions were focused through the lens of office worker wellness, sustainability and authenticity. The building features a robust data backbone, high-performing envelope, optimized day light and views, and a unique focus on social gathering: the lobby is a working lounge, and a rooftop amenity is shared by all tenants. From an urban design perspective, the building is respectful of the scale, articulation, coloration, and attitude of its context without being decorative or nostalgic.
Sustainable Design Intent and Innovation
The project had a sustainability ethos from its inception. The name, "T3", stands for 'timber', 'transit', and 'technology'. The environmental benefit of building with wood is quantifiable (see materials section below). While wood construction is not unusual, building a speculative office building on this massive scale is unprecedented and innovative in its use of modern mass timber methods. Further, the projects addresses all the latest needs of contemporary workers (technology, acoustic performance, etc.) while maintaining the raw beauty of the natural wood throughout.
The site was selected for its redevelopment potential being on the former industrial edge of the central business district, and in an emerging, 24-hour-use active, walkable neighborhood, well-connected by transit (see community connectivity section below). The third "T" stands for the technology companies that created the demand for a project like this. Energy modeling was used at all stages of design and post-occupancy (see data below). The project is certified LEED Gold.
The predicted energy use intensity (pEUI) of the building was 29 kBtu/SF. This is 68% better than the A2030 baseline and 37% better than ASHRAE 90.1 2007, which was the LEED baseline for this project. This resulted in an Energy Star score of 99, and an estimated 67% CO2-eq emissions reduction over the Energy Star baseline.
Savings were attributed to the R-24 wall, R-36 roof, high performance glazing with a center of glass U-value of 0.29 (system 0.42), SHGC of 0.29 and a VLT of 0.62. All LED lighting was installed to reduce lighting power density, with dimming and occupancy sensors forecasted to achieve even more energy savings. The water heating load was reduced dramatically by installation of low flow fixtures, and the demand was satisfied with a high efficiency water heater. Furthermore, the ventilation load was decoupled from the thermal load with a dedicated outside air system and water to air heat pumps were selected to satisfy heating and cooling needs. Variable frequency drives were installed on pumps and fans, and energy recovery was installed on the dedicated outdoor air system.
Post occupancy evaluation showed a 32% energy cost savings, using the utility company incentive baselines, with the highest impact energy conservation measures being the heat pump efficiency, reduced lighting power density and energy recovery. I addition to a reduction in annual consumption, peak gas demand was reduced by 40% and peak electric by 36%.
Sustainable transit is one of the three core values of T3 - Timber, Transit and Technology. From site selection to interior amenities, sustainable commuting was front-of-mind; The building is within walking distance to an extensive range of public transport, has exceptional amenities for biking, and charging stations for electric cars. The site has a Walk Score of 95%, Bike Score of 95% and Transit Score of 100%. We believe T3 facilitates a significant reduction in personal automobile use.
The T3 office building is located with a half mile of: 1 rail station serving 1 commuter line and 2 light rail transit lines, 4 tram stops serving 2 lines, and 59 bus stops serving 59 different bus routes. Many of the bus services run express, connecting downtown Minneapolis with St. Paul and other outlying suburbs. In addition to the many bus and train lines, the Regional Railroad Authority and Minnesota Department of Transportation are currently in the Tier One Environmental Impact Statement stage of developing a high-speed passenger rail called Zip Rail. This will connect the Twin Cities with Rochester, MN, and connect Olmsted, Dodge, Goodhue, Rice, Dakota, Ramsey, and Hennepin Counties.
The bicycle storage far exceeds that required by LEED; 25 bike racks are required by LEED, while 100 are provided at T3. There are bike storage racks located in circulation areas of the building. The client wanted these bike storage racks ‘on show’ to encourage occupants to bike to the facility. In addition to the extensive bike storage facilities, there will also be a bicycle repair station which will be an extremely useful amenity for occupants in the instance of a puncture, or any other bicycle related issue they encounter. Along with providing storage for 100 personal bikes, the city of Minneapolis has an extensive bike-share program throughout the city called Nice Ride. This bike-share program is available for those who wish to have a yearly membership, and for those who wish to use it on a day-to-day basis. T3 is located within a half mile of 18 Nice Ride racks. These bike racks hold anywhere from 15-30 bikes depending on the location, facilitating biking for those tenants who may not own a bicycle of their own.
Another way T3 is making a conscious effort to reduce pollution impacts from automobile use is by providing three preferred parking spots for electric cars, as well as charging stations for those vehicles. According to the Electric Power Research Institute, plug-in vehicles have the potential to save 300 gallons of gasoline thus avoiding 6,000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions. Not only will this incentivize forward thinking sustainable tenants to rent office space, but has the possibility to incentivize future tenants to purchase electric cars. T3 provides 73 of the 481 suggested parking spaces by ITE “Parking Generation” study, thus reducing parking capacity by 85%. This number is achievable due to T3’s exceptional Bike Facilities, Public Transit Accessibility and Walk Score.
T3 is situated on a zero lot line site with zero landscaping except for some planters. Low flow fixtures were installed throughout the facility with a forecasted water use reduction of 36%.
The environmental benefit of building with wood is quantifiable. Every construction development carries an environmental footprint and our goal was to minimize the impact of this project at all stages from resource extraction to operation and eventual disassembly. A wood structure benefits the project footprint primarily through low embodied energy, and its ability to sequester significant amounts of carbon.
Engineered wood products use naturally-renewable, young wood stock. Harvesting this fiber from sustainably managed forests is low in energy intensity and local ecosystem impacts. Life Cycle assessment data confirms a significantly lower impact for resource extraction of wood as compared to the component materials in concrete or steel.
Timber is milled, planed, glued, and resawn in a plant to form mass timber members that have very low energy and pollution impacts, especially when compared to the processing, refining, and pollution inherent in Portland cement or steel manufacturing.
There was minimal waste generated on site, and the project followed LEED standards for construction waste management. The design of the project minimizes secondary finishes, allowing the structure to remain exposed, reducing material resources needed. Quality control activities from the contractor, design team, and building management, including Building Commissioning, ensured the project adhered to sustainability goals during construction.
The building envelope, electrical, and mechanical systems are durably designed and meet high standards of energy performance. Reducing ongoing maintenance and operation costs through intelligent design decisions is a key factor in reducing the project’s life cycle impact. The use of timber for the structure ensures that all the carbon stored in the wood fiber will be sequestered within the structure for its lifetime – a positive contribution to the project’s carbon footprint.
The design accommodates future disassembly and recycling. The wood structure can be recycled or down-cycled to other wood products in the future, continuing to sequester and store carbon.
It is worthwhile to note the following environmental benefits of T3:
• 180,962 cubic feet of wood was used to build T3
• It takes 15 minutes for the U.S. and Canadian forests to grow the amount of wood used in T3
Design Architect (FIRM)
Michael Green Architecture