Solar panels installed on the rooftop in 2011 now supply 28% of the WSSI HQ's total power needs.
Gainseville, Virginia United States
Wetland Studies and Solutions, Inc.
$2,500,001 - $10,000,000
In 2005, WSSI built Virginia's first LEED Gold-certified facility. This building reduces potable water by 70% and energy consumption by 42%, and the site mimics the hydrology of an undisturbed forest to reduce downstream degradation by incorporating LID features. Recycled and renewable materials, passive "green" building design, and high-tech solutions make the building sustainable and create a vibrant workspace. Recently, WSSI has enhanced the site with features such as a 105-kilowatt solar system, solar water heater, dog waste composter, and community garden.
Triple Bottom Line
Economic: Using low-flow fixtures and waterless urinals to reduce potable water demands by 70% is one economical feature of the LEED Gold-certified facility. Motion-activated and daylight sensor lighting, parabolic, reflective light fixtures, and low U-value glass provide 42% energy savings over a typical building of the same size in Northern Virginia. Additionally, in 2011, approximately 28% of the building's total power supply came from solar panels installed on the roof. Incorporating LID into the site design also provides economic benefits by reducing flooding, streambank erosion, and non-point source pollution.
Environmental: WSSI embraced an LID philosophy while designing the site by creating opportunities to trap, slow, infiltrate, and reuse stormwater runoff to reduce downstream degradation. The site showcases the integration of pervious surfaces, a rain garden, bioswale, green roof, two cisterns, drip irrigation, and native landscaping to achieve these stormwater goals. In turn the site has a peak runoff rate 86.1% below a forested condition (for a 1.1-inch rainfall). The extensive use of vegetation, a green roof, and high-albedo roof membrane reduce the "urban heat island" effect. Additionally, the site is a Certified Wildlife Habitat (National Wildlife Federation) as the design provides food and shelter for insects, songbirds, and animals. And all of this is in addition to the water and energy saving features discussed above.
Social: The WSSI facility provides both economic and environmental benefits; however, the project was initiated simply because it was the right thing to do. Employees can feel good about the workspace around them and enjoy the vibrant office environment. In addition to the LID and LEED components, the facility incorporates a detached dog kennel to house employees' dogs, a gym with fitness equipment and daily, trainer-led workouts, access to company bicycles, and on-site nature trails. WSSI also regularly hosts groups to tour the site to learn about the opportunities of building sustainably.
Construction Advances - The project, designed by AAIC, includes numerous technologies that are new to the construction industry. The living green roof and the outdoor rooftop classroom provide an energy efficient structure with the capability of educating the public on green roof construction and the sustainability issues relevant to this geographical area. The water efficiency innovations minimize the use of domestic water on site through a natural system for on-site sewage treatment and reuse and the reuse of rainwater captured on site. The natural wastewater treatment system also allows for water features to be incorporated into the new building and fits well given the unique ecosystem that is created by the confluence of the three rivers at the site and the organic building design.
Kelly McCutcheon, Senior Environmental Scientist
Wetland Studies and Solutions, Inc.