The Tower at PNC Plaza on Wood Street between Fifth and Forbes avenues features a double-skinned facade, a solar chimney and other amenities.
A seating area in the indoor park on the 28th floor of PNC's new $400 million headquarters, Downtown. PNC has billed the 33-story skyscraper as the greenest in the world.
By Mark Belko / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Get your cameras ready,” shouted Gary Saulson, PNC’s director of corporate real estate, as he led reporters to an outdoor terrace on the 28th floor of the bank’s new $400 million headquarters Downtown.
It was the money shot — a sweeping look at the city skyline and the rivers beyond. “This is a view of Pittsburgh not many people get to enjoy,” Mr. Saulson said.
As spectacular as it was, the view seemed to pale in comparison to the 33-story tower itself — one so green that window blinds open and close by themselves and a funky-looking lobby chandelier doubles as a building monitor.
PNC's new $400 million headquarters
Gary Saulson, PNC???s director of corporate real estate talks about PNC's new $400 million headquarters in Downtown Pittsburgh. PNC has billed the new 33-story skyscraper as the greenest in the world. (Video by Andrew Rush; 10/1/2015)
The bank, which has grown in recent years to become the seventh-largest bank in the country, showed off the new Tower at PNC Plaza to the world Thursday, a glass gem that CEO William Demchak described as the “crown jewel” of PNC’s green development efforts.
It is billing the skyscraper on Wood Street between Fifth and Forbes avenues as the greenest in the world — a claim not easy to dismiss as hyperbole.
With a solar chimney, a double-skinned facade to allow fresh air in, and its own water recycling and treatment system, the building will consume half the energy of a typical office high-rise, the bank estimates.
Combined, the facade and the solar chimney — the largest in a modern office building in the U.S. — should allow PNC to naturally ventilate the building 42 percent of the year.
The water plant, touted as the most advanced in the U.S., will recycle and treat rain and wastewater for flushing, cooling and irrigation. It will help the tower consume 77 percent less water than a typical office building.
Beyond the cutting-edge green features, the gleaming new headquarters, Mr. Demchak said in his remarks, stands as a symbol of PNC’s commitment to the region and its growth as a bank.
“It’s an important moment, certainly for PNC, but more importantly perhaps for the city and the broader region,” he said, adding that the bank’s growth has paralleled the city’s re-emergence on the national and international stages.
With the new headquarters open, PNC plans to renovate One PNC Plaza and Two PNC Plaza and consolidate workers now spread throughout the city.
About 2,200 employees will call the new building home. While a few already have trickled in, the first large move will be this weekend. The building will be filled in January.
Among the amenities workers will find is a 28th-floor indoor park, with five stories of glass held together by cables and planters with recycling bins at each end.
There’s also a third-floor cafeteria with an outdoor terrace featuring a row of terra cotta lion heads. They were reclaimed from the Ellis Billiards building, a 1926 structure deconstructed to make way for the new tower. The new building cleaned up a drab block of Wood Street plagued by boarded-up buildings.
At the center of it all is the natural ventilation system built around the solar chimney and double-skinned facade.
The chimney at the tower’s top will create a natural draw to help ventilate the building.
Air let in through the outer facade’s pop-out windows (“poppers”) and inner facade vents (“floppers”) will travel through the work space and up the chimney’s two vertical shafts to help maintain temperature.
Between the outer and inner facade is a catwalk that employees can access through a sliding door to stretch their legs or take a break. A green light — a “good day indicator” — will tell them when weather conditions are right to open the door.
PNC also has designed employee work stations with legs to raise them off the floor to help with the natural ventilation. A cabinet doubles as a stand-up desk and a desk lamp has a charger for a cell phone and computer. Workers also have individual lockers.
Monitoring it all is a second-floor engineer room that looks like something right out of NASA, with big TVs and computers charting every aspect of the tower’s performance (Warning: They know if you open a sliding door when the “good day indicator” is off).
Dubbed the “Beacon,” the lobby chandelier uses a color-coded system to show energy use on each floor.
The green features flow right into the restrooms. where each stall has its own ventilation system and where employees can get soap, wash their hands and dry them, all directly over the sink. A blue light shines when you put your hand under the dryer. The significance?
“It just lets you know your hand’s about to get dry,” Mr. Saulson said.
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