EPA Demonstration Project
GSA is dedicated to improving building performance and reducing energy use and environmental and health impacts of Federal buildings. In order to improve understanding of how sustainable technologies and approaches can improve building performance, GSA’s Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings (OFHPGB) conducts demonstration research projects at selected Federal green buildings. GSA recently finished a multi-year demonstration research project on the EPA Region 8 Headquarters building, also known as The Wynkoop Building.
The Report: “Living in a High-Performance Building: The Story of EPA’s Region 8 Headquarters”
The Wynkoop Building in downtown Denver, which houses the EPA Regional office is a “demonstration project” of the GSA OFHPGB. This “build-to-suit” LEED Gold office/retail space was designed and constructed through a design-build public-private partnership to be as sustainable as technology and budget could support, incorporating sustainability elements developed jointly by GSA (Government lessor) and EPA (tenant agency).
The Wynkoop Building may be one of the most extensively studied buildings in the country. The research deployed scientific teams from two national
Building occupants rated the atrium as a favorite place.
Department of Energy (DOE) laboratories as well as academic and public sector organizations to assess performance in acoustics, underfloor air distribution, data center energy use, daylighting, indoor water use, thermal comfort, occupant experience, workplace functionality, and green roof applications for the Denver climate. In all cases where the building was underperforming, the research teams made recommendations for improvements. Some of those improvements were made, while others wait for future funding. The final report documents key findings and lessons learned regarding the facility’s design, construction, and actual sustainability performance.
This research provides unique insights into how a complex building works. Most buildings go through a fine tuning experience that may take many years. Yet, we know little about how occupants and buildings “learn” to adjust over time and what kinds of changes are made. Building performance results are seldom made public. Furthermore, fine tuning is often ad hoc rather than subject to rigorous research necessary to identify causes and propose solutions as was done in the Wynkoop Building research. Solutions were tested in the building where time and funding permitted.
Fabric “sails” were an innovative solution to direct daylight from the atrium to interior offices.
Is the Wynkoop Building a “successful” green building?
Ultimately, “success” is not something that can be declared based on any single snapshot in time, but only based on an ongoing, broad-based, interdisciplinary commitment to measure, evaluate, invest in, and maintain performance. The EPA’s ongoing focus on and commitment to this building, therefore, is the most positive indicator for its continued success and improvement.