United Therapeutics Unisphere
This project is a net-zero energy building creating 120,000 SF of new office space, 10,000 SF of retail space, a 75,000 SF parking garage, as well as public amenity space for the Silver Spring community. United Therapeutics decided early on that this project would pursue net-zero, meaning it will not use any more energy than it could produce through renewable means on site over the course of a year. This cutting-edge facility will include various sustainable features including:
- Photovoltaic panels
- Geothermal wells
- High-performance electrochromic curtainwall
- Earth-coupled heating/cooling system
- Natural ventilation
- Daylight harvesting
- Thermal pool
United Therapeutics Corporation is a biotechnology/pharmaceutical company that develops novel, life-extending technologies for patients in the areas of lung disease and organ manufacturing.
SF of Office Space
The building communicates its energy usage patterns in real time through several occupant feedback systems. The Energy Wheel, a large sundial-like sculpture made purely out of LED lights and reflective metal fins, is the centerpiece of the building’s feedback system. It is installed on the building’s atrium wall and is visible from all office floors. The Energy Wheel is driven by real-time data from the building’s control systems. It translates this data into giant, 40-foot rays of light that animate in sequence, moving inward and outward to demonstrate the building’s energy usage/consumption as part of the ebb and flow of net-zero operation.
The wheel pulses light outward when the building’s systems are generating a surplus of energy and inward when the building is using more energy than is currently being produced. This also serves as a visual cue to the building occupants to adjust their behaviors with respect to energy use. There is also a suite of custom light animations that relate to critical thematic moments throughout the day, such as Solar Noon, which relates to the sun’s peak position in the sky. These kinds of large-scale visual changes create a central viewing platform for employees and visitors to rally around their net-zero efforts.