June 1, 2012

Project: Headquarters of the Iowa Utilities Board and Office of Consumer Advocate (IUB-OCA)

Leading by example was one goal in constructing the new Des Moines, IA headquarters for two Iowa agencies that govern state utilities: the Utilities Board and the Office of Consumer Advocate. But the primary objective of the state-funded project was to achieve a 60% energy savings beyond the energy code baseline. And Kansas City-based BNIM designed a building that exceeded that goal – 68% in its first year of occupancy. That’s a 76% reduction over the energy used for a typical office building in the U.S.

To achieve these savings, BNIM positioned the building with the optimal orientation for natural ventilation, minimal heat gain and glare, and natural light – 98% of regularly occupied spaces have both daylight and views; everyone has access to operable windows. The firm also created a hyper-efficient building envelope, and installed a roof-mounted 45 kW photovoltaic array, a geothermal field tied to dual stage heat pumps, and a total energy recovery unit.

“Visionary green building features and elegant workspace design can be achieved with a modest government budget,” says Rod Kruse FAIA, BNIM Principal-in-charge. “Environmental responsibility is a core value that is espoused in every aspect of BNIM’s practice since our pioneering work in the 90’s that shaped the U.S. Green Building Council and the LEED rating system.”

Winner of a 2012 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Committee on the Environment (COTE) Top Ten Green Projects Award, the 16-month project also includes high-efficiency, low power density lighting, automated dimming for interior lighting, an occupancy sensor for lighting and workstation plug loads, a time-of-day control of office equipment plug loads, and CO2 sensors for moderated control of ventilation air. 35% of materials used were recycled, and 67% were regionally extracted, harvested and fabricated.

All that and the Net-Zero-ready building (designed to reduce loads to the point where on-site renewable energy will be feasible in the future) is good looking too.

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