FEMP Working Group Views Sustainable Design Features at Federal Facilities

March 7, 2007

FEMP's Interagency Sustainability Working Group (ISWG) is composed of representatives from 20 federal agencies who promote the collaboration and exchange of information among federal agencies to advance the use of sustainable design in federal facilities nationwide. The ISWG occasionally conducts tours of federal facilities to learn about new sustainable features and practices.

Photo of USDA's rooftop garden.
USDA's pilot green roof technology, Washington, D.C.

Last year, ISWG members visited the U.S. Department of Agriculture's headquarters office building to view the agency's 150-square foot green roof pilot system. Designed by GreenTech, the system is useful for terraced commercial roofs, and provides flexibility to re-arrange the landscape designs. Benefits include innovative storm water management, increased building energy performance, improved urban air quality, and preservation of ecology. The project is part of a much larger effort to incorporate sustainable practices at the USDA Headquarters Complex.

The ISWG also visited the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (FWS) National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. The 538-acre campus was one of the first FWS facilities to receive Federal Energy Saver Showcase designation. The buildings were built to fit surrounding rural structures, and interior finishes were selected to reduce volatile organic compounds. Other features include daylighting and solar exposure through the buildings' orientation along an eastwest axis; fitted sunscreen windows; and extended rooflines. The buildings' HVAC system uses high-efficiency chillers and boilers, primary and secondary pump loops, and air and water energy recovery systems. Energy-efficient lighting has been installed in the building through the use of electronic ballasts, ambient and task lighting, and occupancy sensors.

Photo of the National Building Museum.
The Green House exhibit at the National Building Museum.

Most recently, the group toured the National Building Museum's (NBM) new exhibit, The Green House, New Directions in Sustainable Architecture and Design. The green house, known as the Glidehouseā„¢, is a modular house designed by northern California architect Michelle Kauffmann of MKD Designs. Ms. Kauffmann designed the first modular green house in 2004, and has since designed 10 Glidehouses, which include one to four bedrooms with square footage of about 700 to 2,000 square feet. The average price begins at $132 per square foot and includes design, materials, and construction costs, but does not include solar panels or other renewable energy systems.

The design is based on basic sustainable and green features, and includes:

  • gliding glass walls and opposite operable clerestory windows for daylighting and increased ventilation;
  • solar panels, geothermal systems, and wind generator systems for reduced utility bills;
  • building materials for exterior walls such as Cor-Ten steel, Galvalume, Hardi panels, and cedar planks to reduce maintenance costs;
  • bamboo flooring, slate bathroom flooring, recycled glass, birch, and maple to optimize the use of recycled materials;
  • and storage bars to maximize space efficiency.

For information on the Interagency Sustainability Working Group, please visit www.eere.energy.gov/femp/sustainable/sustainable_workinggroup.html. To learn about USDA's green roof, please contact Ed Murtagh at Ed.Murtagh@usda.gov. For more information on NCTC, please visit the NCTC training site. To learn about the National Green Building Museum's (NBM) greenhouse tour, contact Jamie Van Mourik at jvanmourik@nbm.org. Information on the NBM is available at www.nbm.org/.