The late September morning was crisp and clear at MassDEP’s Senator William X. Wall Experiment Station (WES) in Lawrence. An electric vehicle recharged at a new charging station in the parking lot, and a collection of state officials, WES employees, and other interested parties stood outside the newly renovated and expanded laboratory that became the first state building in the Commonwealth to achieve LEED Platinum certification. Given the more intensive energy requirements, the variable hours of operation, and the rigorous health care requirements associated with labs, the LEED Platinum status is considered even more impressive.
Kicking off the event on September 26th, MassDEP Commissioner Ken Kimmel applauded the collaboration and commitment among Commonwealth agencies involved with the project, and gave a shout-out to the staff and construction crew who worked day-in and day-out to complete the project with LEED measures intact. Kimmel framed these accomplishments in a historical context. The building at the current location was constructed in 1952 and was granted standing as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1975, creating yet another challenge in the renovation process.
Hope Davis of the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance, whose agency oversaw the building’s design and construction, extolled the many sustainable virtues of the building. These included the installation of local and recycled materials, double-paned low-emissivity windows, rainwater gardens that collect water for use in toilets and chillers, green and white roofs, daylighting measures, an electric vehicle charging station, a bike storage room with shower facilities, and a 53 kW solar PV array with a live data display in the lobby.
Eric Friedman, who heads up the Department of Energy Resources’ Leading by Example Program, where I intern, highlighted that the growing number of LEED buildings in the state government’s portfolio – 29 total, 28 since 2007, and 18 Gold rated – demonstrated growing comfort with LEED requirements. He added that this and other LEED projects are an integral part of Governor Patrick’s Leading by Example Program. While the Governor’s 2007 Leading by Example Executive Order directed all construction and major renovations of state buildings to meet a Massachusetts LEED Plus green building standard (LEED certification and advanced energy performance), Friedman noted that the lab’s Platinum certification along with state efforts to design zero net energy buildings were evidence not only of the Commonwealth’s progress in meeting this requirement, but also of its achievement in surpassing this already rigorous obligation.
While improvements can and will still continue at the Wall Experiment Station, the attendees roundly and rightly applauded the unveiling of the LEED Platinum plaque on this September morning as a substantial achievement for the Commonwealth.