DC Water’s Iconic Green Glass Headquarters Awarded LEED Platinum Distinction

February 18, 2021
DC Water Headquarters

The green curvy building along the Anacostia River built to consolidate staff and improve accessibility for the public has been certified as LEED Platinum by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), DC Water announced today.

DC Water Chief Executive Officer and General Manager David L. Gadis said the certification is an important demonstration of the sustainability principles that the authority lives by.

“We know this building is important because it allows us to be more centrally located and convenient to customers, it also increases use of public transit, biking and walking by our staff,” Mr. Gadis said. “Ultimately, it is also a statement about our view of the importance of the river to the life of the city.”

Tommy Wells, Director of the District’s Department of Energy and Environment and chairman of the DC Water board of directors, said the distinction for the DC Water building shows the city is continuing to lead by example when it comes to energy consumption and controlling stormwater.

“I’m proud DC Water, the largest modern waste treatment plant in the country, continues to show what can be achieved driving innovation and excellence in creating a sustainable planet,” said Mr. Wells said.

According to Sven Shockey of SmithGroup, the architect and engineer for the project, there are only 125 platinum certified buildings in DC. But he says the DC Water structure is the very first new office building in North America to use a wastewater thermal exchange system to heat and cool the building. That system captures heat from the flowing wastewater in the pump station in the winter and uses the wastewater as a heat sink in the summer, saving energy to heat and cool the building by using a readily available resource.

The modern DC Water structure, a blend of efficiency and beauty, is distinctively known for its gentle curved sides, which evokes water. It also follows the contour of the river and serves an important role as the single consolidated location for DC Water’s customer service, community outreach, media, budget and other functions. It also sits adjacent to the historic DC Water sewage pump station, which was built in 1904.

A green roof reduces stormwater runoff and contains grass, flowers and shrubs to absorb rainwater.  A 40,000-gallon cistern collects any rainwater not absorbed by plantings. The collected water is then used for 100% of the toilet flushing and irrigation needs of the building. The use of the wastewater thermal exchange system and the rainwater capture saves up to 1.2 million gallons of water annually.

Most of the building interior is natural daylit so interior lighting is automatically shut off or dimmed during the day, saving energy. At night, lighting is motion-activated. As a result of all the energy-saving approaches designed into the building, it is one of the most energy-efficient structures in the city, using 48% less energy than a typical office building of its size.

The LEED certification process is chartered by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). LEED stands for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design and is a globally recognized symbol of excellence in green building. It means the building is using less electricity, has a healthy air flow and consumes less energy and less water.  Platinum is the highest rating under the LEED system.

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