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Post Occupancy Verification at the Unisphere - How Did We Do?

May 5, 2-3 pm

Approved for 1.0 general GBCI CE and 1.0 AIA LU



Thomas Kaufman, Associate Director of Corporate Real Estate, United Therapeutics

Jason Fierko, Principal, Ewing Cole




The Owner and Engineer for the United Therapeutics Unisphere project will present data that has been gathered since the building opened in September of 2018. Located in Silver Spring, MD, Unisphere encompasses approximately 210,000 square feet of office space, virtual laboratories, retail and structured parking. Since the building opened, it has received both LEED Platinum and LEED Zero Certifications, validating its design as a zero net energy building. In addition to these certifications, the building has won multiple awards including the United States Green Building Council’s “Innovative Project of the Year” and the “Best Green Project” of 2019 by Engineering News-Record.


The presentation will be a counterpart to the design-focused presentation given at the 2019 Montgomery County Energy Summit. This presentation will focus on the feedback received post-occupancy, with specific focus on the following aspects:

  1. Initial occupancy adjustments;

  2. Energy use;

  3. Occupant feedback;

  4. COVID response.


The team will present adjustments that were made to the systems during the initial occupancy period including temperature and natural ventilation set points. Insights into the decision-making process around interior design conditions, and ways to improve it, will be discussed.


A deep dive into the verified energy data will be presented. The discussion will focus on the overall building performance, how the building performed relative to its models and which systems outperformed versus underperformed. Analysis of the over/under performance will also be presented to help inform implementation in future zero net energy projects.


The Owner, who is also an occupant of the building, will discuss the user experience. This discussion will include response to natural ventilation, lighting control and the building’s unique heating and cooling systems. Finally, we will discuss how the building successfully responded to the COVID pandemic through flexible system design that permitted increased ventilation rates, social distancing and improved indoor air quality.


Learning Objectives


  1. Attendees will learn best practices for designing low energy buildings based on lessons learned from the design team and Owner.

  2. Attendees will understand the post-occupancy energy performance of the building with a focus on which strategies worked best.

  3. The user experience will be discussed to balance the quantitative energy data presented with qualitative, user-based data.

  4. Attendees will learn how flexible designs can respond to unexpected conditions like a pandemic.


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