An Innovative Process
The task of creating a cost-effective, innovative Green Building with limited resources is a concept both challenging and inspiring. Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection has risen to this challenge with the design of their new leased facility, a 73,000 square foot regional headquarters building in Harrisburg, PA which is scheduled for occupancy in May, 1998. It has been designed with the intention of becoming Pennsylvania’s first “model” green technology building, one which will serve as an educational tool and as a beacon for others concerned with environmental sustainability, green building, and the application of high-performance materials and systems. The appropriateness of such aspirations by this state agency, an entity charged with environmental protection, seems self-evident.
In October of 1996, Secretary James Seif of Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection, in partnership with the Heinz Endowments, challenged his staff and 909 Partners, the project landlord (a joint venture of Tiger Development and Kimbob), with designing and constructing a Green Technology Model Project to house the agency’s Southcentral Regional Office and to set the standard for future Commonwealth facilities. Accordingly, a “Green Team” was formed to apply this concept by pursuing an integrated design process for the facility. This team was comprised of representatives from academia, industry, and government; its members consisted of the architectural designer, DEP staff, the developer, selected product manufacturers, design-build mechanical contractors, Penn Energy Project and specialized energy consultants including Carnegie MellonÕs Center for Building Performance And Diagnostics. The Green Team’s four primary objectives were:
- To utilize appropriate high-performance technology for significantly reducing energy consumption and operational costs.
- To maximize the use of sustainable materials throughout the project.
- To minimize negative impacts on interior air quality (IAQ).
- To improve the health, motivation and productivity of building users through the creation of an improved, highly flexible environment.
Achieving these objectives was accomplished by perceiving them as inextricably interrelated issues. Such a perception mandates an integrated design process, one that produces a synthesis of all building components within a “systems thinking” approach. Such an approach radically differs from the traditional “linear” process of building design in that it requires far more inclusion of input from all engineering disciplines, manufacturers, germane contractors, materials suppliers, building occupants, and building owners throughout the design process. Accordingly, the innovative concept employed for this project is best understood holistically; in other words, the entire building and the process of its design represents a groundbreaking creative concept for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.