Fort Worth Post Office Showcases Green Building
At a Glance
The new United States Postal Service (USPS) facility in Fort Worth, Texas, incorporates:
- Recycled-content concrete.
- Natural lighting.
- Rainwater harvesting.
- Compressed straw from alternative agricultural products.
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USPS Environmental and Facility Services Offices
Environmental Information Sources:
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Since opening in January 1999, USPS has been monitoring the performance of the various environmental features of the new facility. Anticipated savings include $1,100 per year in energy conservation and one million gallons-or $2,800-of water each year.
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What makes the 8th Avenue Station of the United States Postal Service (USPS) in Fort Worth, Texas, different from the other 38,000 facilities the organization occupies? The materials and systems used to construct the building were designed to promote a healthy indoor environment, water- and energy-efficiency, and environmental integrity of the local ecosystem. Opened in January 1999, the 26,000-square foot, $2.5 million post office serves as the showcase of USPS's Green Buildings Program and demonstrates its commitment to environmentally preferable purchasing (EPP).
Blueprints of a Green Building
With the construction of 500 to 700 facilities annually, USPS has one of the largest construction programs in the nation. The organization recognized a unique opportunity to implement widespread green building techniques.
USPS assembled a task force with the sole purpose of "greening" the organization's current Design Criteria, which are the key elements of USPS's Building Design Standards. The task force identified approximately 120 attributes that were incorporated into the organization's Building Design Standards, Master Specifications, and a "Green Addendum" to the Master Specifications. The Green Addendum was initially issued to be used on a limited basis to test the attributes that needed further review.
In March 1997, USPS completed its green building specifications. Since that time, several green building projects have been completed and several more are currently under construction. USPS is monitoring some of these projects and has incorporated the successful initiatives into its mandatory design standards.
The 8th Avenue Station not only incorporated all the environmental attributes from the Green Addendum, but also pushed the envelope by showcasing many new initiatives. The building is primarily constructed from recycled materials, uses some of the most innovative energy-efficient systems available, and includes features to improve indoor air quality.
"This won't be a run-of-the-mill building" said Cesta Ayers, former manager of corporate relations in USPS's Dallas office. "It will use items [made from recycled materials]...we're doing it all in an environmentally friendly way."
Ingredients of a Green Building
Some of the environmental attributes included in the building were the installation of skylights, use of paints and adhesives with zero or low volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and use of organic (not chemical) fertilizers for the station's grounds. Additional environmental features of the 8th Avenue station are listed below:
- Indigenous landscaping.
- 20 percent recycled-content concrete (contains fly ash).
- Recycled-content gypsum board and ceiling tiles.
- 90 percent post-consumer recycled-content steel.
- Recycled-content dock bumpers and floor mats (contains recycled tires).
- Recycled-content plastic toilet partitions, tree grates, and workroom bumpers.
- Heat-reflecting exterior ceramic coating system.
- Energy-efficient low-emissivity glazing.
- Natural lighting supplemented by energy-efficient fluorescent lighting with automatic dimming controls.
- Full spectrum lighting.
- Occupancy sensors installed in frequently used rooms.
- High-efficiency heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system.
- Rainwater harvesting system for irrigation.
- Compressed straw exterior wall panels made from alternative agricultural products.
- Compressed natural gas refueling station for fleet vehicles.
USPS was willing to spend 10 percent more in "first costs," or the initial costs for the construction, for the additional green options. While the project met that 10 percent limit, USPS expects that the long-term lifecycle cost savings will outweigh the higher initial cost. USPS anticipates the energy-efficient lighting and HVAC systems, for example, will generate additional savings of $1,100 per year. The facility's "rainwater harvesting" and "xeriscaping" system is expected to save one million gallons of water, or $2,800, per year. Since these figures are only estimates, a period of time must elapse before any performance results will be available to determine the success of the project.
Operating costs will be closely monitored throughout the first year of operations, and the performance of the recycled materials also will be observed. In addition, USPS staff will attempt to assess the lifecycle cost savings resulting from the project.
USPS is proud of what it has accomplished with the 8th Avenue station. As a showcase, the project aims to demonstrate sustainable development techniques, increase public awareness, and encourage the building industry to move to sustainable practices. The effort exhibited by USPS in locating the various recycled materials used for the building not only proves that a large number of recycled products are available today, but also affirms the organization's commitment to practicing EPP. Furthermore, USPS was able to incorporate a significant number of environmental attributes into the new post office without necessarily compromising its budget.
For more information about the 8th Avenue Station, please contact Ujwala Tamasker at 703 526-2757 or Stu Pingleton at 817 317-3577.