FEBRUARY 14, 2017
NEW YORK—Upon completion of their new world headquarters in August 2016, Jehovah’s Witnesses received official recognition for the sustainable design of their new facility in Warwick, New York. The Green Building Initiative (GBI), an organization which offers environmental assessment and certification programs for commercial buildings, awarded the Witnesses the highest possible rating of Four Green Globes for all seven of their buildings that qualified for consideration.
Shaina Weinstein, senior director of engagement for GBI, states: “Out of 965 projects nationwide, only 64 buildings have received the highest rating of Four Green Globes. For Jehovah’s Witnesses to receive Four Green Globes for all seven of their buildings at Warwick is remarkable. This accomplishment represents a very high level of commitment to water, energy, and environmental efficiency.”
The GBI, according to their official website, is “a nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the adoption of building practices that result in resource efficient, healthier and environmentally sustainable buildings.” The GBI provides ratings in sustainable design and operation for newly constructed buildings. As part of the rating process, a third-party expert in the field conducts an on-site assessment to verify GBI’s findings.
David Bean, sustainable design coordinator for the Witnesses’ facilities in the United States, comments: “We appreciate these awards, which testify to the dedication of all involved to construct a campus that exemplifies many sustainable design features—a campus that integrates gracefully and appropriately into Sterling Forest State Park.”
The Witnesses’ strategy included preserving the trees on the property and incorporating felled trees into the construction project. “I appreciated the decision to mill the trees that were cut down to clear the site and reuse them in the new building designs,” says Jeffrey Hutchinson, former park manager for Sterling Forest. “The environmental aspects of what the Witnesses have done are excellent.” Shaina Weinstein also comments, “In our opinion, the Warwick project exemplifies what environmentally conscious design and construction are all about.”
Richard Devine, who was chairman of the Witnesses’ Warwick Construction Project Committee, explains: “For decades, our organization has maintained the aesthetics of our properties in Brooklyn. Now we look forward to maintaining our eco-friendly facility in Warwick and preserving the existing beauty of Sterling Forest.”
The footprint of the Witnesses’ new world headquarters in Warwick, New York, occupies less than 20 percent of the 253-acre site purchased on July 17, 2009.
Erosion control blankets and riprap (stones of assorted sizes) have been installed to help stabilize the surrounding embankment.
Large rocks being excavated from the site during an early phase of the construction project. Over 240,000 tons of site-harvested rock were reused on site.
To protect Blue Lake from silt runoff, a turbidity barrier was installed along the shoreline. The turbidity barrier consists of a floating top section, an impermeable fabric curtain, and a galvanized metal chain sealed into a hem along the bottom of the curtain for ballast.
Industrial recycling containers. Over 70 percent of on-site construction waste was diverted from landfills and processed at approved recycling centers.
Workers planting flora near the main entrance of the Witnesses’ world headquarters. The landscape design incorporated native trees, plants, and ground cover.
Workers installing a geothermal grid, a part of the geothermal system that circulates fluid 499 feet (152 m) below ground. Underground temperatures remain moderate, while above ground air temperatures vary greatly from summer to winter. A geothermal system takes advantage of the stable underground temperatures—absorbing warmer ground temperatures into the circulated fluid to help heat the facility in the winter and, in the summer, using the fluid to dissipate heat from the buildings to the ground. The Witnesses’ geothermal system is expected to reduce the energy needed to heat and cool the buildings by 40 percent.
Inside the Offices/Services Building. The interior finishes (e.g., paint, wall and ceiling coverings) meet criteria set by the Green Building Initiative for low-emitting materials (products that do not release significant pollutants), contributing to occupant health.