The renovated 180,000-sq-ft Cesar Chavez Memorial Building, located at the edge of the Golden Triangle neighborhood near downtown Denver, has been awarded LEED-Gold certification as a result of the $42.7-million modernization project completed last year. The project team was initially targeting LEED Silver.
The building, originally constructed in 1984, houses more than 400 federal employees. It was extensively retrofitted with energy-efficient features designed to ensure the sustainable operation of the federal building far into the future. The most visible of these upgrades is the completely renovated façade. The design-build team used solar studies and simulations to minimize the heat gain in the building due to sunlight.
The new building envelope was designed for a lifespan of 75 years and was constructed while the building was 100% occupied. The renovation was built by GE Johnson Construction, Colorado Springs and Denver, and designed by Denver’s Tryba Architects.
Additionally, the building incorporates local building materials, high-efficiency lighting, new elevators and water strategies, and a variety of other green-building technologies. The modernization of the facility included the demolition of an existing adjacent parking structure and the construction of a new structure crowned by a rooftop photovoltaic system. It will further lessen the energy impact of the federal building.
The rededicated César E. Chávez Memorial Building opened in March 2012 after 28 months of construction. The highlight of the $37-million modernization is a state-of-the-art building exterior consisting of an aluminum-and-glass curtain wall system that reduces the building’s energy consumption by 30% and produces 5% of its energy through onsite renewable-energy technologies. GE Johnson and Tryba Architects implemented a number of sustainable features with the project.
For example, the new parking garage features a solar sculpture capable of producing 115 kW hours of renewable energy, offsetting both the building’s energy consumption by five percent and reducing domestic hot water grid energy by 30%. The project also made good use of locally available materials, such as Yule marble, recycled steel, and terrazzo made from 50% recycled beer bottles from local breweries. Eighty-three percent of construction waste was diverted from landfills.
The César E. Chávez Memorial Building is located in a developed urban area. What once was an overlooked building now takes advantage of integrating a pedestrian-friendly and realigned Fox Street, landscaping, public art and a hardscaped entry plaza. The result is that the Chavez Building no longer sits in isolation at the end of the block but rather serves as a gateway building into Denver’s Civic and Justice Center and the Golden Triangle neighborhood.
Working with the city of Denver, local neighborhood groups, and the local arts community, the General Services Administration added an “art park” in front of the building entry area, giving the agency the opportunity to further connect the space to this emerging art district. This art is set in a highly visible parcel of land in front of the building, displaying a sculpture by Mexican artist Sebastian, entitled “In Three Movements.”
“Sustainable design is vital to GSA’s mission of providing the best value in real estate and delivering a superior workplace for the federal employees,” said Susan Damour, GSA Rocky Mountain regional administrator. “High-performing sustainable buildings not only reduce the government’s environmental footprint, but also make good business sense. This is a win-win as this modernization has also turned a previously overlooked building into a beautiful structure that complements Denver’s architecture.”
The area of building efficiency affords tremendous opportunities for both economic growth and reduced environmental impacts. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, buildings across the United States account for 36% of total energy use and 65% of electricity consumption.