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Pittsburg Students Get Rare Glimpse at Federal Building

Dec. 1, 2014

Students from Pittsburg State stand atop the Bolling Federal BuildingSix students and an associate professor from Pittsburg State University’s School of Construction traveled to Kansas City, Mo., Thursday, Nov. 20, for a behind-the-scenes look at a federal building there.

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), the federal agency responsible for managing federal buildings and courthouses, and the Mechanical Contractors Association of Kansas City (MCAKC) hosted the event. The students toured the Bolling Federal Building, which is wrapping up a 10-year, more than $300 million renovation designed to increase sustainability and drive down energy costs.

The presidentially-appointed regional administrator of GSA, Jason Klumb, greeted students and other members of MCAKC shortly before the tour began.

“We are thrilled to have all of you with us today,” he said. “I challenge each of you, as you are learning more about our operations here, to brainstorm how we can further improve our energy-saving efforts. You are the future engineers who will drive the next generation of sustainable building operations.”

The afternoon tour included a rare glimpse into the mechanical systems that keep the 50-year-old, 1.2 million square foot building operating efficiently - the chiller, boiler, air handlers, electrical transformers and water distribution center.

Students also learned first-hand about the techniques and technologies used to improve energy efficiency, and reduce water consumption. As part of the renovation, the building now utilizes underground cisterns that hold 111,200 gallons of water for site irrigation, eliminating the need for potable water to irrigate the two city block site. It also uses an energy management system that integrates the building's HVAC and lighting control system into a web-based control system, allowing better control, supervision and maintenance of building systems.

The building also utilizes reflective and vegetative roofs in places to reduce its heat absorption.

“It was a great opportunity to show students how the inter-workings of a mechanical system truly works in a building of that size,” said Shannon Nicklaus, associate professor-School of Construction, Pittsburg State University. “I think it was also a real eye-opener on how systems could be used for energy efficiency in future projects.”

Klumb was grateful for the opportunity to share with students how GSA is meeting its sustainability goals, and encourage the future leaders to discover the systems and technologies that will take these efforts even further.

“The GSA team has taken great strides in greening our buildings and helping save taxpayer dollars,” he said. “I look forward to the future engineers in this room pushing that innovation further - challenging us to do more in being good stewards of the environment.”

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