Boston Business Journal reports on Tocci’s Award Winning Project


Autodesk LEEDS by example with East Coast HQ

Boston Business Journal – by Keith Regan Special to the Journal

When it began its search for a new East coast headquarters, software maker Autodesk — whose products include 3-D modeling software widely used by the architecture, engineering, and construction industry — recognized an opportunity to demonstrate leadership in sustainable design.

We wanted to do a building the right way, to create an extremely sustainable and energy-efficient building and to use technology the right way in the process. We believe that changing the way building projects are designed and done can have a huge impact on the world.

Jay Bhatt, Sr. Vice President at Autodesk

The 65,000-square-foot Waltham facility features extensive use of natural light — open workstations with low walls ring the open-interior space with walled offices inside — as well as a host of other energy-saving design elements and has been awarded LEED Platinum certification in the U.S. Green Building Council’s corporate interiors category.

The project’s use of integrated project delivery, or IPD, was a major factor in enabling the sustainability levels to be pushed to new heights, said Chris Leahy, a principal with KlingStubbins, the Cambridge-based architecture and engineering firm on the project. The lead contractor — Woburn-based Tocci — and key subcontractors were brought on board early in the process, enabling final decisions about systems and products to be made earlier and with more certainty.

As designers, we don’t have all the answers.

Chris Leahy

IPD aims to replace contention among various parties in the building process with cooperation, using contracts that help limit legal liability. The Autodesk project also sought to leverage the firm’s building information management (BIM) product, known as Revit, which makes 3-D models of projects, enabling potential conflicts to be identified and worked out during the design phase.

On the Autodesk project, that enabled KlingStubbins to determine exactly which light-dimming sensors and water-reducing fixtures would be used.

On a typical project, we might specify something in the design that is not available. Because we had the subs involved early, we were able to pick the best ones available. Because a lot of that waste and uncertainty was removed from the equation, the bar for sustainability could be set higher without raising the budget.

Chris Leahy

Integrated project delivery is slowly gaining favor, though even supporters acknowledge it may not be the right model for every project. Still, Bhatt said making decisions and eliminating potential problems in the design stage meant fewer changes during the actual construction, which in turn can reduce costs. Studies by the Lean Construction Institute show as much as 35 percent of a project’s cost comes from construction waste.

Autodesk has been in the building, which has space for 400 employees, since February and expects to use 35 percent less energy annually over traditional designs and to save 260,000 gallons of water each year.

Being at the table from the start meant a new level of involvement for the contractor, said Laura Handler, the virtual construction manager at Tocci.

We’re not usually around for the LEED kickoff and being aware of what the owner wanted to achieve made it easier for us to help implement those sustainability goals

Laura Handler, Virtual Construction Manager

The building’s open environment has also changed the way people work inside it, according to Erin Rae Hoffer, industry solutions manager at Autodesk.

The openness and the natural light has encouraged people to collaborate in new ways. When you walk into a more traditional office building, that’s when you really notice and appreciate this environment.

Erin Rae Hoffer, Industry Solutions Manager at Autodesk

Published on Friday, August 21st, 2009 in the Boston Business Journal online.