20 Years, 470 + Projects & Legacy of Firsts
Twenty years ago, the term “green” building had recently been defined by the creation of LEED, which established a baseline measurement for a holistic system that promoted sustainability and environmental consciousness within the built environment. TLC Engineering Solutions (TLC) was an early adopter of incorporating the LEED rating system into its designs and officially became a member of the USGBC in 2001.
Being one of the early firms to promote the green building movement meant leading the way to raising standards in sustainable building practices. Early on, TLC encouraged its employees to increase their understanding of LEED by becoming LEED Accredited Professionals. The firm provided internal LEED AP exam study groups, reimbursement for the exam costs and for Continuing Education Units. TLC team members also got involved, serving in leadership roles within USGBC from the local level to national committees, which helped to elevate TLC as a trusted advisor in sustainability. Additionally, TLC team members regularly present on sustainable design topics and strategies at a variety of industry conferences, including the USGBC’s annual Green Build, among various other seminars and symposiums. Today, they offer their clients the expertise of four LEED Fellows on staff, Kim Shinn, Brian Lomel, Mark Gelfo, and Kristy Walson.
TLC has incorporated sustainable practices into its company culture. From recycling to composting, employees are encouraged to have consideration for environmental concerns, as well as economic development. The TLC headquarters in Orlando, Florida is certified LEED Silver and WELL Gold, and three additional office locations have become LEED certified.
In addition to sustainability, recognizing the importance of transparency and social equality, TLC sought out its JUST label in 2015 and was approved in 2016. Since then, TLC has been approved for renewal under increasingly strict requirements. The JUST renewal review process provides a framework for reviewing many HR policies, including gender and ethnic diversity, pay-scale equity, gender pay equity, family friendliness, worker happiness, benefits, and education. This process helps to ensure that TLC is continuously improving its policies and practice.
A Legacy of Firsts
TLC’s portfolio lists over 470 LEED certified projects in a multitude of project types. Being on the forefront of the LEED movement meant that TLC had the opportunity to design many “firsts”. The list below showcases some of these marque projects:
- 1st LEED Certified Police Station in Dallas, Texas – South Central Station
- 1st Safety First Managing IAQ During COVID-19 Pilot Credit – Nashville International Parking Garage and Authority Administration Building
- 1st LEED v4 Gold, BD+C project in Florida and 1st to achieve LEED EQpc124 – Southwest Florida Collaboratory
All projects below are qualified as firsts in Florida only
- 1st Building to be LEED Certified – Stetson University Lynn Business Center
- 1st Hotel/Resort to be Certified – Sandpearl Resort
- 1st Health Care Facility to be LEED Certified – Parrish Health Center and Nature Preserve
- 1st Preschool to be LEED Certified – Baker Pre-K Center
- 1st Elementary School to be LEED Certified – Neil Armstrong Elementary School
- 1st Police Station to be LEED Certified – Sarasota Police Department Headquarters
- 1st LEED CI– TLC Engineering for Architecture, Jacksonville
- 1st LEED for Schools (Public School)– East Elementary School
- 1st LEED Certified Morgue – Orange County Medical Examiner’s Office
- 1st LEED Certified County Courthouse – Duval County Unified Courthouse
- 1st LEED for Healthcare Certified Project – Cleveland Clinic Florida Braathen Center
- 1st Building in Tallahassee to achieve LEED Certification – City of Tallahassee Solid Waste Administration Building Renovation
- 1st LEED Certified Project in Broward County – BrowCO/BCC South Regional Library
Unique LEED Project Highlight – 701 Brickell Avenue LEED EB Recertification: O&M Improvements
The roadmap to achieving the initial LEED EB: O&M certification began with TLC conducting an analysis of LEED EB: O&M prerequisites and performing field investigations. Once basic LEED EB: O&M certification was achieved, the goal of LEED Gold recertification was pursued, moving the building towards greater levels of sustainability. Sustainable design features resulted in annual savings of $75,000 from upgrading the chiller plant and a 37% water-use savings, yielding an ENERGY STAR rating of 83 for the building.
2022 and Beyond
It’s an issue that has been brought to the forefront by numerous global natural disasters and must be addressed during the design process. Look at the effects of recent major hurricanes that have caused widespread devastation and flooding. These natural disasters played a part in the recent changes to the LEED resilient design pilot credits, encouraging project teams to determine potential vulnerabilities at the project location. Project risks must be considered which now include sea level rise, extreme heat and increased intensity of winter storms, as well as the potential risks related to the effects of climate change.
Resiliency has impacted many of TLC’s designs and changed the way they approach some aspects of design. The JEA Headquarters, pictured above, is a prime example of designing with resiliency in mind. The project is being constructed in a flood-prone area, so the design has all major equipment located on the second floor to protect it from potential flooding and a raised foundation. The design-build project is scheduled to be completed in mid-2022 and tracking to be certified LEED Gold.
Several of the LEED projects TLC has recently worked as a LEED consultant for, or are currently working on, have sought out the pilot credits: Social Equity within the Project Team and Social Equity within the Community. Valuing diversity, equity, and stewardship are important to TLC both internally and externally, and they encourage our project teams to share those values and pursue these credits.
Research and development is at the heart of innovation, which is why TLC has a dedicated group for just that called the Peak Institute, or PI for short. The PI team’s ingenuity has benefited many of TLC’s projects. One of their creative design solutions includes the first under floor air distribution systems for a high-rise office, located in a tropical environment, as a means to lower energy costs and increase comfort. This project was able to achieve LEED Silver certification.
The PI team has designed multiple buildings using the Air Quality pilot credits. Their design solutions have included having multiple projects capture condensate and rainwater for toilet flushing, integrated daylight harvesting, and included computer simulations along with energy calculations to optimize efficiencies. One of the greatest achievements of the PEAK Institute has been helping many of their clients achieve net zero energy usage goals.
Overall, the last 20 years have been incredibly fulfilling. TLC has been able to play an active role in the evolution of LEED and has gained a tremendous amount of value from its partnership with the USGBC. TLC is looking forward to continuing to collaborate with the USGBC while designing a more sustainable future.