What Life is Like Working in a Green Building?

image of greenery with cityscape in the backgroundWhile this photo may appear to be that of a lush meadow in the foreground of a big city, it is actually a vegetated rooftop on a 9-story building in downtown Denver. When EPA Region 8’s office moved to a new “green” office building in Lower Downtown Denver, I did not know what to expect. I had never worked in a green building before. I really did not think it would be that different from a regular building. Was I wrong… Not only was the building very beautiful, it was the most comfortable building I have ever been in. From the lighting to the indoor air quality, I knew we were in a top quality and healthy working environment.

Our building is environmentally friendly and provides daily opportunities for us to practice stewardship. Some features of our building that help us decrease our impact include:

  • Extensive use of daylight to reduce need for artificial light
  • A vegetated green roof to control storm water and decrease urban heat island effect
  • Waterless urinals and low-flow plumbing fixtures to decrease water use
  • High recycled content materials throughout the building
  • Proximity to public transit

However, it is not enough to simply build a green building; a big part of the equation is how the building is operated and the behavior of the occupants. Region 8’s Environmental Management System helps us improve our performance by quantifying and managing the impacts of our operations (e.g., electricity and water use, waste generation and transportation) and taking actions to reduce those impacts.

The green design, construction, operation and maintenance of 1595 Wynkoop, combined with close attention to our collective actions, help EPA in our efforts to practice what we preach.

Working in a green building is the only way to work in my mind. I have more energy throughout the day which I attribute to the environmentally healthy aspects of our building. I have the pleasure of knowing my work day has also been less of an impact to the environment. You can find out more, hear an audio tour and see lots of pictures of our green building at: http://www.epa.gov/region8/building/index.html

About the author: Wendy Dew has been with EPA for 11 years and is the Environmental Education and Outreach Coordinator for Region 8.