LEED certification

CEPD Moves to a new Green Space

By Brenda Reyes

If moving a family to a new house (and all the packing it takes) is quite the experience, imagine moving from where you have worked for the past decade along with almost 60 co-workers! About three months ago, our Caribbean Environmental Protection Division moved to a new location in City View Plaza, in my hometown of Guaynabo.  The best part for me and some coworkers is being five minutes from home (without any traffic), the hardest part was getting used to a larger office space.  Gone are the days when it took me about eight steps to reach the Deputy Director’s office. Our new office space is 21,000 square meters and boasts green features to lower environmental impact.

The bathrooms have high-efficiency faucets and low flush toilets to help reduce the amount of water consumed by almost 40% compared to standard faucets and toilets and to reduce the burden on drinking water and wastewater systems.  All wood used in the office space is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood or wood that has been reused to reduce materials consumption.  Infrared and motion sensors have been installed in the conference rooms, office spaces, open spaces and even in the modular desk task lights. These sensors ensure that lights are on only when the room is occupied, reducing energy consumption.  Furthermore, large high-efficiency tinted windows allow for natural light to provide illumination in the perimeter around the office and in the reception area-where a native Blue Mahoe desk presides over the area.   In my case those large windows provide me with a view from the San Juan Bay, El Morro Fort and the Cataño area.  The view is truly breathtaking!

All carpets used in the office are made of about 30% recycled material and are 100% recyclable. They also do not contain toxic chemicals found in conventional carpets.  Low VOC paint was used in the new space. Also, a high efficiency HVAC system not only saves on energy, but also has a special filter that will remove almost all particulate matter from the space.   All computer equipment in the office was purchased using the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool and all appliances in the lunch room are Energy Star. We also have bike racks for those who wish to pedal their way in and out of the office and we are on the bus route.  While we have not heard from the U.S. Green Building Council yet, EPA applied for the LEED certification for this new office space.

Three months have gone by and with each passing day I come to see this new space as a true example of sustainability in action.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Greening EPA's Seattle Office

A green roof has been installed on our downtown Seattle office building

A green roof has been installed on our downtown Seattle office building

By Bruce Duncan

The Region 10 Science Steering Council recently hosted our first “Science Café” to discuss how our Seattle office building is working toward LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification as we undergo a major remodel. LEED is a third party certification program administered by the U.S. Green Building Council that focuses on the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings.

I moderated the meeting and want to share some of the discussion. The first presentation focused on the building’s infrastructure (its green roof, pipes, and pumps) and participation in a private/public group committed to significantly reducing energy consumption by 2030.

Next, was a detailed look at the upcoming remodel of EPA space in the building and how we might get to a LEED “Platinum” rating. Presenters showed how the remodel is a unique opportunity to capture environmental benefits, energy efficiencies and cost savings. EPA is pursuing projects in:

  • sustainable site selection
  • water efficiencies
  • energy and atmosphere
  • materials and resources
  • indoor environmental quality
  • innovation and design process
  • regional priorities that further sustainability.

Each project generates points toward the LEED rating.

Our last discussion centered on what we can do in our individual spaces to be sustainable by recycling and reducing our use of resources.

Interesting information to me from the Q&A sessions included:

  • What is the cost to building management to register for LEED certification?

Approximately $10,000.

  • How is the return on investment working out for the building upgrade to LEED?

The payback horizon is reasonable for those components that do have a quantifiable return on investment. As we move forward, we would be comfortable with a 5 year payback horizon.

  • What are we doing to improve our office space that does not count toward LEED rating?

One example is the computer server room, which will be located to take advantage of cool outside air near windows.

What I liked most about our Science Cafe was seeing the linkage from my own office space and habits, to EPA’s space, to our building overall and how it sits within a self-led management community committed to sustainability.

Read more about EPA’s efforts to “green” our facilities.

About the author: Bruce Duncan is an Ecologist supporting risk assessments our Region 10 Office of Environmental Assessment. He is a member of the Region 10 Science Steering Council and has a long-standing interest in sustainability. Bruce also “walks the talk,” having installed solar panels on his Pacific Northwest home.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.