Awarding-Winning Sustainable Projects

On a very hot day in the summer of 2014, Torcon was invited to a kickoff meeting for the renovation of a 38,000 sq. ft. building at Munich Re’s corporate campus in Plainsboro, New Jersey. The company was hosting an outdoor picnic for its employees that day, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Munich Re’s headquarters relocation from Manhattan. Coincidentally, Torcon was also CM for the landmark 254,000 sq. ft. HQ project.

The long-term relationship between Torcon and Munich Re has always been defined by respect, value and performance. When Torcon began working with the company, then known as American Re-Insurance, our entire organization was impressed by their staff’s professionalism and the company’s collegial management style. Twenty-five years later, Munich Re continues to impress, with both their culture and their commitment to the environment and their employees.

It was not surprising to learn that Munich Re was committed to achieving LEED Gold certification on the new program, which repurposed a single-story office building into a corporate conference facility and employee fitness center. The company has already implemented several sustainable initiatives at the campus, including electronic charging stations, optimized allowances for carpooling staff, and access to public transportation to facilitate the use of mass transit. The campus also installed 130,000 sq. ft. of solar PV panels (canopy structures) which shade the parking lot and provide over 25% of the annual energy use of the entire campus. The campus also constructed more than a mile of groundwater recharge chambers connected to these solar canopies.

With critical assistance from project architect Gensler, Munich Re was ultimately able to achieve LEED Platinum certification for the new project in 2015. Points were achieved through high-efficiency implementations, occupant education, and the incorporation of sustainable technologies within the building. Occupancy sensors and automated daylight dimming allow the building to make maximum use of natural light and reduce the energy needed for electrically powered lighting. The building installed state-of-the-art, high efficiency air handling equipment, zoned spaces separately, and sub-metered energy sources as additional methods to track and inform management on the building’s ongoing energy use.

The Gensler team helped Munich Re reduce indoor water usage – in an intensive building, due to heavy shower use – by over 45% below code regulations. As of the end of 2014, the overall Munich Re campus had reduced water consumption by 61% based on five years of average data. With a focus on health, wellness, and the environment, the building received significant LEED construction points in areas such as indoor air quality and construction waste management. Most notably, the project found resourceful ways to reuse and repurpose over 75% of the construction waste within the building and broader campus, earning the project the USGBC New Jersey Suburban Green Project Commercial Award.

Green practices have now become engrained as building standards in our industry. But the adoption of such practices is neither universal nor automatic. Being environmentally responsible requires leadership and commitment. The opportunity to once again work with such a leader on this new employee conference and fitness center project was gratifying. We offer our congratulation to both Munich Re and Gensler for achieving LEED Platinum Certification and for being recognized with an Emerald Award from the USGBCNJ. It is not only an honor to have been involved with this team and this project, but it is also a reflection on Torcon's commitment to delivering high quality, environmentally efficient construction practices to all of our clients.