The Hearst Corporation's Manhattan headquarters sets a new standard for earth-friendly office design. Products Used: Harmony Interior Latex

The new Hearst Corporation headquarters proves that even in the heart of New York City, amidst 46 stories of glass and steel, you can build green.

Designed by London-based Foster and Partners in conjunction with Gensler Architectural Design and Planning, the tower uses 26 percent less energy than conventional buildings, thanks in part to high-performance, low-emission glass, which minimizes heat gain. Internal walls were kept to a minimum to facilitate natural illumination, with daylight sensors dimming lights when natural lighting is sufficient.

“The primary design goal was to create a new environment that embodies daylight and visibility — an open work environment to promote interaction and collaboration among employees,” says Bob Seitz, a senior associate at Gensler.

Built above Hearst's former headquarters at Columbus Circle in midtown Manhattan, the project received a Gold Rating from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

The construction of the tower itself incorporated environmental conservation. Eighty-five percent of the steel was recycled, and the unique design of the tower's “diagrid” frame used approximately 20 percent less steel than a conventional perimeter frame, Seitz says.

Environmentally friendly materials also were chosen for the building's interior. “One of the simplest things you can do to make a building green is to pick paints that have low VOCs (volatile organic compounds),” says Brian Schwagerl, vice president of real estate and facilities worldwide for the Hearst Corporation.

Breathing Easy

Most of the interior space of the Hearst Tower was painted with Sherwin-Williams Harmony® Interior Latex paint, which offers zero VOCs and is a low-odor, silica-free coating with antimicrobial properties to resist mildew.

Choosing no-VOC paint was a no-brainer, according to Schwagerl. “If you can get quality paint in beautiful colors and not create toxic emissions that your employees are exposed to, why not do it?” he says. “We have the cleanest air of any building in New York City, and the paint is a factor in that.”

“The interior color palette is clean, bright and fresh,” Seitz says, and it incorporates a variety of whites and grays, including Morning Fog (SW 6255). “We relied on daylight, the view and the quality of finishes to make the environment.”

“We looked at this project as a home renovation,” Schwagerl says. “We view corporate employees as part of the Hearst family. Why wouldn't you put the best products in your home?”

Innovation In Conservation

The Hearst Tower's ahead-of-the-curve conservation features include:

Recycled water. A rainwater collection system on the roof reduces by 25 percent the water that normally would flow from the site into the city's sewer system. That collected water is harvested in a 14,000-gallon tank in the basement of the building, where it replaces water lost to evaporation in the building's air-conditioning system and also irrigates plants and trees inside and outside the building. Captured water is also used to create “icefall,” a special feature in the building's grand atrium, designed to humidify and cool the lobby.

“Thinking” elevators. The building's “destination dispatch” elevators conserve energy with an organized system that “pre-plans” trips. “Rather than board an elevator with a crowd of people where everyone pushes their numbers, you punch in your number before you board in a kiosk, and it tells you which elevator to go to,” says Bob Seitz, a Gensler Interior Design firm senior associate who consulted on the building's interior design and architecture. The efficient system meant that fewer elevators were needed to transport the Hearst workforce from floor to floor.