Vermont Business Magazine Some of Vermont’s largest and oldest office buildings are now also among the state’s greenest. In late December 2017 the United States Green Building Council awarded the State Office Complex in Waterbury, Vermont its highest honor: LEED Platinum. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program, commonly referred to as LEED, is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. The points-based system evaluates buildings across several categories designed to improve human well-being, reduce our environmental footprint, and save building owners money.
The LEED Platinum rating applies to 201,000 square feet of new and renovated offices on the Waterbury Campus, including the new 86,000 square-foot office building as well as thirteen connected historic structures that date back to the 1890s. The new biomass-fueled central plant and maintenance facility, part of a separate LEED application, received LEED Gold status.
The 100-acre complex was heavily damaged by flooding following Tropical Storm Irene in August, 2011. After an intense period of clean-up and study, the State of Vermont chose to rebuild the complex with an emphasis on sustainability and resiliency.
To protect against future floods, the 80-year old central plant and several flood-prone buildings were deconstructed to make way for a new two-story office building and energy-efficient central plant. In the historic portion of the campus, basements and a network of underground tunnels dating back decades are filled with special low-density concrete. All occupied spaces throughout the complex are built above the 500-year flood mark, and multiple site improvements drastically reduce storm water runoff.
Sustainable features at the new complex focus on energy efficiency and occupant comfort. Key features include:
• A 110kWp rooftop solar array
• A state-of-the-art central plant, fueled by locally harvested wood chips
• A strong preference for natural, locally sourced building materials, like Vermont hardwoods and stone from nearby quarries.
• Minimal use of materials known to emit harmful chemicals (plastics, glues, paints, carpeting, etc.) and whose manufacture may contribute to climate change
• Sensors that automatically adjust lighting based on available sunlight, plus light-redirecting louvers and skylights that extend daylight deep into the buildings’ interior
• Super-efficient wall and window systems that keep buildings warm in winter and cool in the summer.
• In addition to superior construction methods, several other green features helped lift the Waterbury complex to Platinum status:
• Basic choices, like the decision to rebuild on the same site, helps maintain the economic vitality of a small Vermont community and preserve its compact, walkable downtown.
• Preserving historic structures helps maintain a sense of identity and boost civic pride—not to mention reduces demand for raw materials and eliminates all the environmental harm that goes into the manufacture and shipping of finished products.
• More efficient office layouts not only increase productivity and improve communication, but they also allowed the State of Vermont to employ around 1,000 employees in roughly one-third of the space they previously occupied.
• Finally, the entire building envelope fully commissioned, meaning that engineers performed multiple tests to ensure that structures performed as well as or better than the high standards set by the design team.
Achieving LEED Platinum was a joint effort by the State of Vermont’s Department of Buildings and General Services and a team of dedicated professionals, including Freeman French Freeman, Architect of Record; Goody Clancy, Historic Preservation Architect; mechanical, electrical, and plumbing consultants RFS Engineering; site and civil engineers, Engineering Ventures; the landscape architecture firm, SE Group, and construction manager PC Construction.
Source: Freeman French Freeman, Architects January 30, 2018