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Sustainable Design at the U.S. EPA's Kansas City Science and Technology Center

Justin Spenillo, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

A typical laboratory uses 5 to 10 times more energy and far more water per square foot than a typical office building because of intensive ventilation requirements and other health and safety concerns. When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) realized that its Region 7 laboratory in Kansas City, Kansas, could no longer feasibly implement its mission in its existing location, the Agency decided to design and construct a new building to provide a quality workspace for its scientists and staff. The building employs as many energy, resource, and water-efficient characteristics as possible in its design and construction to preserve natural resources, ensure occupancy health, and serve as a model for future laboratory design. The poster will highlight these sustainable features and the building's LEED™ Gold Level certification.


Including green building attributes and LEED™ certification requirements from the start ensured an environmental focus throughout the project. Major benefits resulted from having the Construction Superintendent acquire LEED™ Accredited Professional credentials, because he was responsible for LEED™ documentation and for reviewing all subcontractor material for "green" content. Collecting data at each phase of construction was the least costly and most efficient method to attain LEED™ certification.

Labs21 Connection:

EPA's Kansas City Science and Technology Center demonstrates several unique features that reflect the Labs21 Approach, including:

  • In August 2003, the laboratory was awarded a Gold Level sustainable design rating from the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED™ program.
  • A unique rooftop rainwater recovery system captures and filters rainwater for use in flushing toilets; it cuts treated domestic water use by approximately 50 percent and reduces stormwater runoff by 40 percent. Since the rainwater recovery system collects more water than needed for the toilets, the excess is used to provide make-up water for the building's cooling towers. The estimated savings from this unique system is 735,000 gallons per year.
  • The initial mechanical system design chosen for the lab included variable air volume (VAV) fume hoods, VAV office ventilation, and heat recovery. Energy modeling performed on this initial design produced further economical energy conservation approaches resulting in design additions such as zoned carbon dioxide sensors, plate-frame heat exchange recovery, and a variable-frequency-drive chiller.
  • The Solicitation for Offers (SFO) for this facility included green language to ensure that the facility and all its construction features promote energy efficiency and environmentally preferable materials and design. The SFO encouraged contractors to address energy and water conservation and other environmental factors.


Justin A. Spenillo is a member of the Sustainable Facilities Practices Branch at EPA. His primary duties include work related to water management and green power at EPA facilities. He has an MA in Science, Technology, and Public Policy from George Washington University and a BA in Biology from Franklin & Marshall College.


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