Resource Notes Title

NO. 70Range logo Date 8/23/04

Sustainable Design, LEED, and the Rawlins Field Office Building

By Renee Azerbegi, Mechanical Engineer and LEED Accredited Professional, The RMH Group and
Pat Fleming, Lead Civil Engineer and LEED Accredited Professional, BLM, National Science and
Technology Center



Sustainability is integral to the mission of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a nonprofit organization formed by a coalition of industry leaders to promote the concepts of sustainable design and construction. The Council has developed the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System—a voluntary, consensus-based national standard for assessing and advancing the principles of sustainability in the design, construction, and performance of buildings. The LEED program provides a means for buildings to be certified upon meeting certain prerequisites. The total point value awarded for a project determines whether the building achieves a certified, silver, gold, or platinum rating. An example of the LEED scorecard may be viewed at the following Web link: http://www.aisc.org/Template.cfm?Section=Technical_Answers&template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisply.cfm&ContentID=22061

A new BLM field office in Rawlins, Wyoming, was designed and is being constructed with sustainability in mind. The planned 32,540-square-foot building will accommodate a 100-member staff responsible for managing public lands in south-central Wyoming. The consulting design team accepted BLM’s challenge to make sustainability a priority, and all key project team members met for a sustainable design charrette.

The Charrette
The charrette, which met in May 2002, served as a forum for gaining a mutual understanding of the principles of sustainable design and for identifying and selecting sustainable design goals for the field office. All key design team members were represented, including those from the BLM, Sellards & Grigg (civil engineering consultants), Chamberlin Architects (architects), the RMH Group (mechanical, electrical, energy, and sustainability consultants), and Wenk Associates (landscape architects). Each member of the design team provided an overview of the project’s design parameters. Sustainable design strategies for the project were then analyzed according to the LEED Green Building Rating System.

LEED
The BLM set a progressive target of a LEED Gold certification for the Rawlins Field Office, making it the first LEED-registered building in Wyoming and the first BLM project in pursuit of LEED Gold status. As the sustainability consultant, the RMH Group facilitated the charrette, follow-up collaborative sessions, and integrated design (SeeTable 1 at end of document). Because more than half the available LEED points relate to mechanical and electrical design, the RMH staff was able to closely coordinate the mechanical and electrical design with its in-house LEED-accredited professional. The landscape, civil, and architectural consultants also worked closely with RMH personnel to help create a highly sustainable project. After the completion of construction documents in early 2003, the total LEED points pursued for the project stood at 44—five more than required for a LEED Gold rating.

Energy
Energy usage plays a significant role in many of the LEED criteria. An important goal for the project is to reduce the annual cost of energy consumption by at least 30% from the recognized code-compliant design industry standard, developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

Table 2 (see at end of document) depicts the energy parameters of the base case and the recommended design case. On the basis of the 100% construction documents, with the energy offset from wind generation, a 31% reduction in energy usage and a 40% reduction in annual energy cost are expected over the code-complaint case. Other factors, such as maintenance and life cycle costs, are also important considerations. Thus, 6 of 10 possible points for LEED’s Optimizing Energy Efficiency criteria will be achieved.

Wind Energy
The BLM recently joined with the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to help Federal land managers promote land-use activities that will increase the development of renewable energy resources in the West. They found that the Rawlins planning unit, where wind speeds often exceeded 15 mph, was one of the top six sites studied. The RMH Group worked with Aerofire Windpower and NREL to devise a system for taking advantage of these favorable wind conditions. Two 20-kW wind turbines were originally proposed for meeting the existing building load. Unfortunately, because the local utility provider had a maximum net metering limit of 25 kW the BLM reduced the project to one 20-kW wind turbine, which is still predicted to offset electrical energy usage by 40% and save $1,260 per year according to research by NREL’s National Wind Technology Center. Rawlins will still earn two of three LEED points possible for renewable energy credits.

Resource Conservation
The building design implements recycled content and local materials; sustainably harvested wood products; a white roof; a direct digital control system to monitor humidity, temperature, and carbon dioxide; and ultra–low-flow water fixtures. To reduce the effects the building might have on the site, the project team employed significant storm-water management and treatment with detention ponds and bioswales; selected native plants so that no permanent irrigation system is required; designed a living snow fence; minimized light pollution; and specified bicycle racks.

Conclusion
Although the term sustainable design was introduced only in the past decade, consultant teams are increasingly proficient in applying it and learning through the design process. The Rawlins Field Office project demonstrates that a highly sustainable building design based on the LEED program is achievable for BLM buildings. Once constructed, commissioned, and occupied, the building is expected to offer a comfortable and efficient workplace for BLM staff as it achieves its LEED certification.


Table 1. Sustainability goals and objectives for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Rawlins Field Office project.

Sustainability goal 1
Minimize site impact
BLM Rawlins Field Office objectives:

Sustainability goal 2
Minimize effects of transportation
BLM Rawlins Field Office objectives

Sustainability goal 3
Minimize energy usage from conventional sources
BLM Rawlins Field Office objectives

Sustainability goal 4
Select environmentally responsible materials
BLM Rawlins Field Office objectives

Sustainability goal 5
Ensure good indoor air quality
BLM Rawlins Field Office objectives

Sustainability goal 6
Provide comfortable buildings for occupants
BLM Rawlins Field Office objectives

Sustainability goal 7
Minimize water usage
BLM Rawlins Field Office objectives

Sustainability goal 7
Community awareness
BLM Rawlins Field Office objectives


Table 2. Summary of energy analysis for American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standard compliant and design cases.

Energy cost and parameters

1 - Energy cost ($ per year)
Base case compliant to ASHRAE Standard 90.1 (1999)

Design case

2 - Energy cost index ($ per sq ft per year)
Base case compliant to ASHRAE Standard 90.1 (1999)

Design case

3 - Percent reduction
Base case compliant to ASHRAE Standard 90.1 (1999)

  • n/a

Design case

  • 40

4 - Annual gas (MMBtu per year)
Base case compliant to ASHRAE Standard 90.1 (1999)

  • 1,503.3

Design case

  • 1,302.7

5 - Annual electricity (MWh per year)
Base case compliant to ASHRAE Standard 90.1 (1999)

  • 248.07

Design case

  • 93.7

6 - Annual peak demand (kW)
Base case compliant to ASHRAE Standard 90.1 (1999)

  • 114.1

Design case

  • 56.16

7 - Energy use index (kBtu per sq ft per year)
Base case compliant to ASHRAE Standard 90.1 (1999)

  • 74.5

Design case

  • 51.4

8 - Percent reduction
Base case compliant to ASHRAE Standard 90.1 (1999)

  • n/a

Design case

  • 31

Contact
Renee Azerbegi
Mechanical Engineer and LEED Accredited Professional
The RMH Group
12600 West Colfax Avenue,
Suite A-400
Lakewood, Colorado 80215
Phone: 303-239-0909
Fax: 303-235-0218
Email: razerbegi@rmhgroup.com

and

Pat Fleming
Lead Civil Engineer and LEED Accredited Professional
Bureau of Land Management
National Science and Technology Center
Denver Federal Center
Building 50, P.O. Box 25047
Denver, CO 80225-0047
Phone: 303-236-3404
Fax: 303-236-3508
Email: Pat_Fleming@blm.gov


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