This is from a series of guest posts by representatives of the Northwest Building Efficiency Center. This post was written by Vicki Zarrell.
I recently had a chance to tour the Washington Public Utility Districts Association (WPUDA) building in downtown Olympia, the first building in Washington to be certified LEED Platinum by the U.S. Green Building Council. The WPUDA moved into the new building late in 2007, occupying the second floor.
The first thing I noticed when walking up the steps from the sidewalk was an
For those times when there is TOO MUCH water from the roof or hardscape, a natural-looking swale along the east side of the building filters the runoff and recharges the groundwater. This entire system is a win-win for the City of Olympia and the WPUDA since it eliminates run-off to the city’s stormwater system and no municipal water is needed for landscaping or the water feature.
Another obvious exterior feature of the building is the large array of photovoltaic solar panels on the roof. According to the WPUDA, solar will supply about 40% of the building’s energy needs and surplus power produced by the panels will be sold to Puget Sound Energy through net metering.
Inside the building the individual carpet squares caught my eye, which are easy to replace if damaged and are part of the building’s emphasis on materials and paints with low toxicity. I also noticed exceptional views of the capitol campus and surrounding neighborhood. With generous use of windows and skylights—and with work spaces primarily arranged around the perimeter of the building and bay-type windows jutting out from the structure—90% of work spaces in the building receive natural light. Yet there seemed to be no glare from windows or light fixtures. The windows are super energy efficient and designed not to reduce visibility the way tinted glass does.
Other elements contributing to LEED certification were the fact that most of the construction materials came from 500 miles or less, that the lumber was FSC certified, and that 75 percent of all construction waste was recycled. The area of the roof without solar panels is a light colored “cool roof” that reflects the sun’s infrared rays, reducing the building’s “heat island” effect and air conditioning costs.
This is a building that made me think, “I’d like to work here.” Besides its pleasing atmosphere, knowing that the building is efficient and well designed contributes to its desirability as a workplace. For a video describing the building, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFefP7Ft1gg