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Archive for January 18th, 2012

The Sustainable Lawyer loves shining the spotlight on firms and organizations that have built or renovated green office space. TSL has especially fond memories of touring the Environmental Protection Agency’s new office space back in 2010 — providing numerous examples of sustainability at work. Earlier this week TSL reached out to BBA Environmental Sustainability Task Force member Cynthia A. Lewis, Senior Enforcement Counsel at US EPA, Region 1. She was only too glad to provide us with all the facts and figures on the John W. McCormack Post Office and Courthouse (POCH) renovation, an effort of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and the EPA.

The EPA is the primary tenant at the courthouse, and occupies about 329,000 rentable square feet of the approximately 700,000 gross square feet. The 23 story building, built in 1933, houses 840 EPA employees who reoccupied the space in August 2009 after a three year construction contract. The green features in the new building are extensive, and the results speak for themselves.

When building, the EPA and GSA:

  • Reused 99 percent of the historical structure.
  • Preserved interior features such as historical paneling, walnut wainscoting, terrazzo floors with marble inlay, and oak parquet floors.
  • Recycled and diverted from landfills 149.5 tons of construction debris, bringing the percentage of material recycled to 84.93%. This includes 6.17 tons of concrete, 8.59 tons of metal, and 19.26 tons of wood.
  • Used low-emitting construction materials such as paint, carpeting, and composite wood.
  • Used post-consumer recycled product used for many new installed finishes, steel and concrete

The results of the project are:

  • Approximately 70 percent of the occupied space receives natural light
  • To encourage alternative modes of transportation, the McCormack POCH offers 50 bike racks and 10 showers.
  • New plumbing fixtures reduce estimated water consumption by 642,000 gallons per year, which is 32% over code requirements.
  • Energy-efficiency components such as variable-speed drives for fans and pumps, motion sensors and daylight dimming for lighting, and new insulated double-pane, low-e windows.
  • The EPA offsets 100 percent of the electricity in the building with renewable energy certificates (REC’s) purchased through the Agency’s current blanket green power contract.

The project also included a special feature, a green roof, that:

  • Is the first of its kind in New England
  • Uses solar panels to power the irrigation pumps and cisterns collect rain water to irrigate the plantings
  • Encompasses more than 25% of the building footprint, providing an important open space for the building users.
  • The green roof is planted with native species and after establishment and requires little irrigation.

Though not everybody can commit to this level of sustainably while building or renovating, TSL tips its cap to the EPA and GSA for making sustainability its first priority.
To view photos from the BBA’s 2010 tour of the new EPA building, click here.

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