What's Green?


As one of our agency's top priorities, GSA is making buildings more sustainable and reducing their environmental impact through wise and efficient use of energy, water, and materials/resources. The Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr. Federal Building underwent a three year renovation, completed in 2013, which achieved, from The United States Green Building Council (USGBC), a Leadership in Engineering and Environmental Design LEED Platinum certification.


The building includes several unique features to promote water efficiency and reuse, including high efficiency plumbing fixtures and water efficient landscaping: Impermeable site surfaces were reduced; the tree canopy was increased; and a green roof and storm water retention system serves the site for irrigation. These efforts resulted in a 45% reduction in water usage as compared to similar commercial building standards.


Energy savings are realized through energy efficient appliances, mechanical equipment and LED lighting, and also through innovative features that work to keep the building insulated and reduce HVAC costs year round. These include the high performance glass curtain wall and green roof, which works to insulate the building while also providing for the retention and collection of storm water. This results in a 28% reduction in energy usage as compared to similar commercial building standards.


Recycled and reused materials were integrated into the building renovation in several unique ways. Building materials and personal property were selected based on their recycled content, future recyclability, and regional availability. Limestone, removed from the original façade to allow for the installation of the new glass curtain wall, was reused as an interior finish in the building's lobby and atrium spaces. Toilet partitions were manufactured with 100% recycled content. Ceiling tiles, carpet, steel, pavers, and furniture all have a very high recycled content. A financial balance was struck between first cost, recycled content and availability regionally (to reduce transportation costs). Artist Jessica Stockholder's plaza installation, Try Angle, will also incorporate several different high-content recycled materials.

Daylighting and Fit-Out Guidelines

The addition of two atriums and the dramatic increase of windows allow natural light to flow deep into the farthest interior spaces of the building, providing much of the needed lighting for the interior. The establishment of other tenant fit-out guidelines will ensure that sustainable efforts are maintained over time. Guidelines include office zones perpendicular to the windows, and no offices on the perimeter to ensure daylighting is available to all occupants. The interior space plan is designed to be "universal", to minimize reconfigurations of interior spaces over time; i.e. move the people, not the furniture and the offices. This design approach will save taxpayer dollars for years to come.


To date, the renovation of the Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr. building has received the following awards:

  • United States Green Building Council (USGBC), a Leadership in Engineering and Environmental Design LEED Platinum certification 
  • American Institute of Architects (AIA) honor Award for Architectural Excellence
  • Washington Building Congress Craftsmanship Award AGC (Association of General Contracting) award of DC for demolition and abatement excellence 
  • Award of Merit for Mid-Atlantic Construction 
  • Featured in the November 2006 issue of Demolition Magazine
  • GSA Design Excellence
Last Reviewed 2016-06-30