The World Food Prize Foundation



Few 19th-century buildings on the National Register of Historic Places have ever earned this level of certification from the U.S. Green Building Council

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Des Moines, Iowa (March 2, 2013) – The World Food Prize Hall of Laureates – a beautiful historic library renovated to become the hunger-fighting foundation’s global headquarters – has earned the highest possible rating by the U.S. Green Building Council for leadership in energy efficiency and environmental design, an incredibly difficult feat in a century-old building.

The award is significant, as only a handful of 19th-century buildings in the entire country are both on the National Register of Historic Places and have also earned a LEED Platinum rating; no other building in Iowa has ever held both designations. The project is a national model of success for transforming treasured, aging buildings into usable, energy-efficient, technology-friendly facilities.

“This project presented the unique challenge of meshing historic preservation with green energy, and in the beginning, it was thought virtually impossible to attain LEED Platinum,” said Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn, president of the World Food Prize. “The World Food Prize’s core mission involves making the most of our limited natural resources to feed a growing global population, so it was important to us to model sustainability in our new headquarters. We’re proud that we’ve transformed this historic landmark into a hall that can now be used to host significant events such as the visit last year of Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, the official reception during the Iowa Caucuses, our own annual international conferences, and many more.”

During the $30 million renovation of one of Iowa’s architectural treasures, leaders of the World Food Prize Foundation worked closely with architects from RDG Planning & Design and landscape architects from Hoerr Schaudt, as well as engineers from HR Green and the leaders of Neumann Brothers, Inc. to aggressively pursue the highest possible level of energy conservation, while honoring the historic integrity of this cultural landmark.

“Pursuing LEED certification on building projects today is nearly routine, but to achieve a Platinum certification remains simply remarkable,” said Doug Hoerr of Hoerr Schaudt. “It requires tremendous commitment by an institution and the skilled leadership of a well-coordinated and creative design team. Years from now, the Hall of Laureates and Garden will still be a model for integrating the highest levels of sustainable design with enduring quality and beauty.”

"At the outset of this project, we thought getting LEED Silver would be a huge achievement,” said Marshall Linn, President and CEO of Neumann Brothers, Inc., which has worked on several historic buildings. “Surpassing Gold and earning Platinum was the result of an extraordinary team effort, which was driven by the World Food Prize leadership. We are honored to be part of this historic achievement."

Key features and achievements in the green renovation process include:

- Procuring 90 of the highest efficiency solar panels available, which are placed on the roof in a way that cannot be seen, so they do not detract from the overall historic appearance of the building; 

- Drilling 102 geothermal wells in the garden to help heat and cool the building using the Earth's energy, each of which goes more than 200 feet deep in the ground; 

- Creating an 8,000 gallon cistern to collect storm-water run-off, which was installed under the new grand east staircase, to provide a gray-water system of the building and the garden's highly efficient irrigation system;

- Procuring over 20 percent of construction and renovation materials from within 500 miles of the project, which included harvesting matching stone from an abandoned railroad bridge because the original quarry is now a state park, as well as using recycled materials in the metal fence and re-purposed granite in the curbing and planting circles; 

- Installing concrete paving with a very high light reflectivity index; and 

- Adding bicycle storage and a shower space, as well as preferred parking for low-emitting and fuel efficient vehicles. 

"Making a 19th century designed building that is on the National Register of Historic Places while achieving LEED Platinum was a huge challenge that was conquered by the design team,” said Scott Allen of RDG. “The Hall of Laureates is both a magnificent rehabilitation/restoration project and a model for future energy efficiency in historic buildings."

The building was designed in the late 1800s as part of the City Beautiful architectural movement and its cornerstone was laid in 1900. In 1903, the doors to the Des Moines Public Library opened for the first time. Over a century later, after the library relocated to a new building 10 blocks away, the World Food Prize Foundation stepped in to rescue it and began a $30 million restoration. It reopened in October 2011 as the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates, in honor of Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and the organization’s founder, of whom it is said saved over 1 billion lives with his agricultural innovations.

The World Food Prize will host both public and private events in the coming months to celebrate its designation as a LEED Platinum historic building. Going forward, the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates will serve as a world-class museum to recognize great achievements in agriculture and fighting hunger; a convocation center at which to hold events during the World Food Prize International Symposium -- the Borlaug Dialogue; a home for the expanding World Food Prize youth programs, which aim to inspire the next generation of scientific and humanitarian leaders; an educational facility featuring interactive displays on hunger and food security; and a conference center and event space available to other groups and organizations for their meetings and other activities.

The World Food Prize will also open $1 million worth of interactive educational exhibits later this year, which will also be open to the public free of charge.

To learn more about the preservation, restoration and greening of this architectural treasure, please see the related fact sheet, photo slideshow, and video,
at this link.

The World Food Prize was founded in 1986 by Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, recipient of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize. Since then, the World Food Prize has honored outstanding individuals who have made vital contributions to improving the quality, quantity or availability of food throughout the world. Laureates have been recognized from Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Denmark, Ethiopia, India, Israel, Mexico, Sierra Leone, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United Nations and the United States. The World Food Prize Foundation is based in Des Moines, Iowa, in the United States.

The Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Green Building Council is committed to a prosperous and sustainable future for our nation through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings.

With a community comprising 80 local affiliates, more than 18,000 member companies and organizations, and more than 167,000 LEED Professional Credential holders, USGBC is the driving force of an industry that is projected to contribute $554 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product from 2009-2013. USGBC leads an unlikely diverse constituency of builders and environmentalists, corporations and nonprofit organizations, elected officials and concerned citizens, and teachers and students.

Buildings in the United States are responsible for 39% of CO2 emissions, 40% of energy consumption, 13% water consumption and 15% of GDP per year, making green building a source of significant economic and environmental opportunity. Greater building efficiency can meet 85% of future U.S. demand for energy, and a national commitment to green building has the potential to generate 2.5 million American jobs.

The U.S. Green Building Council's LEED green building certification system is the foremost program for the design, construction and operation of green buildings. Over 100,000 projects are currently participating in the LEED rating systems, comprising over 8 billion square feet of construction space in all 50 states and 114 countries.

By using less energy, LEED-certified buildings save money for families, businesses and taxpayers; reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and contribute to a healthier environment for residents, workers and the larger community. USGBC was co-founded by current President and CEO Rick Fedrizzi, who spent 25 years as a Fortune 500 executive. Under his 15-year leadership, the organization has become the preeminent green building, membership, policy, standards, influential, education and research organization in the nation. For more information, visit

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For more information, contact Megan Forgrave, Director of Communications, at 515-229-1705.


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