Operation Smile, an international medical charity that provides free surgeries for children and young adults with cleft lip, cleft palate, or other facial deformities, has earned a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification for its 75,000 square foot headquarters in Virginia Beach, VA. LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system. Operation Smile’s building, which was designed by Clark Nexsen, used both proven and innovative strategies for site development, water savings, energy efficiency, material selection and indoor environmental quality.
“We’re excited to receive a LEED Gold certification. A lot of hard work and strategic planning went into the design and construction of the building to ensure it was as environmentally friendly as possible,” said Kevin Summerlin, Facilities Manager at Operation Smile. Summerlin went on to add, “Our employees are proud of our facility and enjoy working in a LEED-certified building.”
Operation Smile achieved Gold certification using both proven and innovative strategies for site development, water savings, energy efficiency, material selection, and indoor environmental quality. Certification is gained through evaluation by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).
“We are pleased to partner with a mission-driven organization like Operation Smile that shares our commitment to sustainability and the environment,” said Clark Nexsen CEO Chris Stone. “In close collaboration with the site designer, VHB Engineering, and the design/builder, Hourigan Construction, we exceeded our expectations,” Stone added.
Attributes of the building that contributed to the LEED Gold certification include:
• Daylighting so effective that no artificial lighting is necessary for 87% of the day;
• Positive impact on the local community;
• Reduction of Volatile Organic Compound emissions;
• A heating and cooling system that reduces energy usage to 34% lower than the average comparable building;
• Reduction of potable water usage by 30%;
• Nearly one quarter of construction materials sourced from recycled components;
• Landscaping that cuts irrigation water needs by at least 50%.
“Achieving LEED certification is more than implementing sustainable practices. It represents a commitment to making the world a better place and influencing others to do better,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO, USGBC. He adds, “Given the extraordinary importance of climate protection and the central role of the building industry in that effort, Operation Smile demonstrates their leadership through their LEED certification of their global headquarters in Virginia.”
The City of Virginia Beach and Tidewater Community College were also instrumental to the success of the project. The City of Virginia Beach donated the site for the headquarters and paid for about $1.4 million worth of infrastructure related costs, including sidewalks and lighting. Operation Smile is located on the Tidewater Community College campus in the “Educational Core” of the Princess Anne Corridor. The TCC location combines medical theory with Operation Smile’s medical outreach. TCC and Operation Smile share parking and pedestrian ways that are connected to a large common green space.