Utah Building Restoration Highlights GSA’s Sustainability Commitment
Video Length: 1 minute 12 seconds
Long before environmental sustainability fully entered the public conscience, the General Services Administration was incorporating energy-saving measures into the design and functionality of the federal buildings it oversees.
As the federal government’s landlord, GSA manages thousands of owned and leased buildings across the country, of which roughly a quarter are deemed to be historic.
These buildings predate the advent of air conditioning and other modern conveniences, when architects and engineers had to maximize the use of sunlight and natural ventilation.
“The wonderful thing about historic buildings is that they were built at a time when you had to be energy-conscious,” said Commissioner Robert Peck of GSA's Public Buildings Service. “We became the beneficiary of a building inventory that was pretty sustainable in the first place. What we’ve done is taken that inventory and added to it.”
An example is the Scowcroft Building in downtown Ogden, Utah. The four-story, 133,000 square-foot building was constructed in 1906 as a warehouse for the Scowcroft Co., a dry goods wholesaler. After the company ceased operations, the building was shuttered in 1958, where it sat vacant for nearly five decades.
GSA came along in 2002 and spearheaded plans to redevelop the building for use by the Internal Revenue Service. When the building reopened in 2004, it became a model of energy- and water-efficiency.
It became the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified building in Utah also to qualify for historic preservation tax credits. In order to achieve this recognition, the restoration had to meet the LEED standards without altering the building's appearance.
The renovated building is fully appointed, with modern accoutrements while preserving the historic elements, including the brick walls, heavy timber beams, and wood plank ceilings.
The original single-pane windows were replaced with energy-saving double-paned replicas, and two new atriums increased the natural light in the building’s core space. The high-efficiency heating and cooling system is hidden under the flooring, eliminating the need for air ducts to run through the wood-paneled ceiling.
Water-efficient fixtures and appliances reduced overall water usage by an estimated 23 percent, and an environmentally friendly irrigation system reduced potable water usage for landscaping by 53 percent.
The Scowcroft project came on the heels of another GSA-led restoration effort in Ogden. The Twin Rivers Complex was completed in 2003 and included the restoration of the historic Boyle Furniture Co. Warehouse.
The projects quickly became a catalyst for private investment in downtown Ogden, leading to new eateries sprouting up, streetscape improvements, and the first new residences to be built downtown in a century.