Mercy Corps is an international organization that works to alleviate suffering, poverty, and oppression by helping people build better communities. Their 4,000 sf Action Center to End World Hunger, built in Battery Park City, strives to educate visitors about hunger through interactive exhibits and displays. Steven Winter Associates, Inc. (SWA) served as the LEED consultant and commissioning agent for the project. The Battery Park City Authority requires all new buildings to achieve a minimum LEED Gold rating, which Mercy Corps surpassed by achieving a LEED for Commercial Interiors Platinum rating. The design team, which included Gary Shoemaker Architect, IP Group Engineers, and ESI Design, aggressively pursued highly visible sustainability measures, including cork-faced, replica field huts, where visitors are educated about critical issues facing today’s communities, and furniture constructed of wood salvaged from Hurricane Katrina debris.
Ultra low-flow fixtures on lavatory sinks and dual flush toilets resulted in a 45-percent reduction of potable water use. The finishes and exhibits utilize Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood and low-emitting materials. Optimized use of daylighting and lighting controls, demand controlled ventilation, radiant floor heating, and ENERGY STAR® rated appliances also contribute to energy savings. As commissioning agent, we developed functional performance tests to validate equipment-control strategies and building system integration. Custom control sequences were developed for systems built from optimized components. Carbon dioxide sensors and BTU meters were installed to provide continuous feedback on ventilation effectiveness and thermal energy utilization. Our team monitored this feedback for nine months post-occupancy to verify that each system performed as expected, and subsequently made recommendations as weather and occupancy patterns emerged. The Action Center to End World Hunger opened its doors to the public in the fall of 2008. The center hosts passers-by, families, news media, as well as many of the 17,000 students in the area.