New 'green' skyscraper sets higher standard for healthy workplace

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Salt Lake City's newest skyscraper in many years will open the doors to its first tenants in about two months. The people who work there will likely discover positive differences and fresher air at work.

222 Main, as it's called, will qualify as Utah's first LEED-certified skyscraper. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. That means it has to measure up to tough environmental standards. Those standards translate into a healthier workplace.

A law firm will take over the top two floors in early December and customize its space. Don Billings, director of development and construction for developer Hamilton Partners, said incoming and potential tenants have told the developer it matters to them.

"This type of building will be a must in the future," Billings said. "So, we think we're on the leading edge of the curve."

The developer made sure the indoor environment was healthy, using construction materials, solvents and cleaners that emit minimal harmful vapors.

Billings said, "We're proud of that."

That matters during construction and in the life of the building. National indoor air quality standards are getting tougher, and awareness is rising. The EPA reports improved air quality can lead to higher productivity and fewer sick days.

Billings said, "Five years ago, people weren't concerned about this. Now, people are very concerned about this, appropriately, and we're responding to that."

On the roof, there are state-of-the-art air conditioning units that practically cover the entire space. They're fitted with sophisticated humidifiers and filters that remove toxins and particulate from the air.

"The biggest component of keeping a building healthy is having fresh air," explained Billings.

At times the air conditioning will pump 100 percent fresh air through the building; when it's too cold or too hot outside it will pump a minimum of 20 percent.

Asset Manager Ken Shields said, "At this building, we monitor indoor air quality, and we will adjust the outside makeup of air, based on indoor air quality conditions."

Natural light illuminates the building, so automatic dimmers will turn down lights during the day. The developer has leased 20 percent of the space for opening and hopes for a full skyscraper by the end of next year.

"We're having a difficult economy, but it's coming out of that," Billings said. "People are starting to talk to us aggressively about occupying the building next year."

The building on 222 Main St. also gets points for LEED certification because there's a TRAX stop right out front.

The building will also save nearly 20 percent more energy than current building code requires.


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Jed Boal


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