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27 February 2014

HOK’s Tim Gaidis on Making Net Zero a Net Positive for Existing Buildings

Byron Rogers BuildingTim Gaidis, sustainability leader in HOK’s St. Louis office, describes a path-to-net-zero plan for renovating the Byron G. Rogers Federal Office Building in Denver.

Some viewed the 1965 Byron Rogers Federal Building in Denver, with its aging building envelope and worn-out mechanical systems, as a candidate for replacement. But as an example of Modern Formalist architecture, the building will be eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places in 2015. The adjacent courthouse—originally designed  with the office building—was renovated in 2005.

Tim GaidisHOK is a design partner in the office building’s gut rehab renovation, in which “contractors are essentially creating a new building in the existing shell, in an effort that includes installing all new windows and replacing the existing forced-air mechanical equipment with a much more efficient chilled-beam hydronic system.”

“Even with such options, though, the design team had several strikes against its net-zero goals before it even sat down to its electronic drawing boards. First and foremost, the building is sited at 45 degrees on the compass; in contrast, a new net-zero structure would more likely be sited with its long axis running east to west, so daylight could be maximized for natural illumination. Additionally, because the U.S. Government Services Administration (GSA), the building’s owner, will be seeking historic status, any exterior improvements had to remain visually true to the original appearance—so window tinting or sunshade devices were out of the question.”

As part of President Obama’s Executive Order 13514, all federal agencies are required to be operating at net-zero status by 2030, whether they lease space from the GSA or any other landlord. And as the owner and operator of most federal real estate, the GSA is looking for ways to help their tenant agencies meet the 2030 mandate.

“‘We realized that with this executive order, all of Byron Rogers’ tenant agencies will eventually have to meet the 2030 challenge, so we proposed a path-to-net-zero plan,’ said Gaidis. ‘Many of those strategies aren’t in the project budget at this time.’”

Gaidis notes, however, that the team’s path-to-net zero plan creates a roadmap for the building and agencies to comply over time.

Electrical Contractor