City plans green features for new office building

The city's consolidated office building is planned for a space kitty-corner from City Hall. Submitted image

The City of Minneapolis plans on incorporating energy-efficient and water-reducing features into its new office building downtown, scheduled to open in the fall of 2020.

The city is planning green roofs, LED lighting and stormwater filtration, among other features, for the 11-story building, which will house about 1,000 city employees when it opens. It’s also planning to obtain Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification and a certification that demonstrates its commitment to supporting a healthier workplace environment.

“We’d like to have a healthier workforce, and we also feel that’s a very important part of recruitment and retention,” said Greg Goeke, director of major real estate projects for the city.

Goeke noted the City Council’s policy, passed in 2006, that requires the city to obtain LEED certification for any new buildings that it finances. The city is targeting the second-highest level of LEED certification for the new office building. It’s also targeting Fitwel certification, which it says would show its commitment to supporting health and well-being.

Fitwel is based around the idea that a building should support a healthy lifestyle, Goeke said. He noted that the office building will include healthy vending choices, bicycle storage and facilities, a fitness center for employees, active stairwells and light and connection to nature as much as possible.

Demolition work on the Opus/InterPark Ramp began earlier this month to make way for the new city office building.
Demolition work on the Opus/InterPark Ramp began earlier this month to make way for the new city office building.

“We’re trying to, I think, think about our workspace as more than just a computer and a chair and a work surface,” he said, adding that the building will support mobile work.

Goeke said the city will work to recycle a vast majority of the material in the parking structure it will demolish to make room for the new building. He said all the finishes and adhesives in the new building will either not emit or minimally emit volatile organic compounds.

Many of the building’s interior finishes, such as the carpeting and countertops, will contain recycled content, he said.

The city is also looking to ensure the building is resilient to potential effects of climate change, planning a facade that can take higher wind speeds and ensuring the building can manage higher rainfall totals. It’s planning to create an exterior of aluminum and glass, which it says will minimize the amount of maintenance it has to do on the building’s facade.

The city has also met with a local Audubon group to discuss bird-safe guidelines.

Rachelle Schoessler Lynn, senior associate at MSR, a firm that helped design the building, said the Fitwel program is deeply rooted in Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research. She noted how the program requires the clients to be actively engaged in creating policies to ensure the health of their employees.

Schoessler Lynn is a co-founder of the U.S. Green Building Council in Minnesota and helped develop the state of Minnesota’s sustainable-building guidelines. She said builders are looking more nowadays at the environmental impacts of products used to create buildings, rather than just the energy impacts of the buildings themselves. She also said there’s much more emphasis nowadays on how buildings impact the health and well-being of the people who work and interact with them.

Spread across downtown

The city has been exploring a new office building site for the past four years, and a committee reviewed 13 site options in 2015. Currently, the city’s employees are spread across seven buildings in downtown, which can cause confusion for residents and businesses and headaches for workers who need to travel between buildings.

The City Council endorsed the idea of a new office building in July 2016, to be located adjacent to City Hall. A design team created a plan for the building this past year, and demolition work on the building site began this month.

The new building will be 380,000 gross square feet, according to city documents, and will have a public service area on the second floor. The city expects the building and renovations to City Hall to cost about $210 million. It plans on paying for the project with bonds, savings on existing leases/operating costs, cash from the sale of existing buildings and rent payments.

The city will construct the building on the current site of the Opus/InterPark Ramp, which contains about 930 parking stalls, according to Goeke. It sold its 1,300-spot Government Center Ramp next door to acquire the property.

Goeke noted how the city hasn’t built an office building of any consequence since it built City Hall 125 years ago. The city has been exploring a new office building and renovations to City Hall since 1999, but the timing hadn’t been right until recently.

Construction work on the building is scheduled to begin this summer. Learn more about the building at