Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge "Green" Headquarters and Visitor Contact Station Team, Swanton, Vermont, FWS.
Mark Sweeny, Refuge Manager
The Missisquoi NWR Headquarters and Visitor Contact Station construction project upholds the principles of sustainable design including minimizing energy use, making efficient use of resources, and reflecting sensitivity to the site. The collaborative design for the project included community members, community partners, Efficiency Vermont, the State of Vermont, the Town of Swanton, the FWS, and a design team led by Centerbrook Associates of Centerbrook, Connecticut. The new facility has features in all of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) categories: innovation and design process, sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality. It achieves notable results benefiting the environment, including sustainable design; environmentally preferable materials; recycled content materials; construction waste recycling; water conservation; and alternative energy systems which capture geothermal, solar, and wind energy. The renewable energy system produces enough power, on an annual basis, to operate the lighting, computers, and miscellaneous plug loads of the facility (per estimate prepared by Efficiency Vermont). Water conservation features save an estimated 250 kgal annually. The groundbreaking and ribbon cutting ceremonies were popular events, each featuring Vermont Senators Mr. James Jeffords and Mr. Patrick Leahy. The new building opened for occupancy in April 2005.
The Missisquoi NWR Headquarters and Visitor Contact Station construction project upholds the principles of sustainable design - minimizing energy use, making efficient use of resources, and reflecting sensitivity to the site. The collaborative design for the project included community members, community partners, Efficiency Vermont, the State of Vermont, the Town of Swanton, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and a design team led by Centerbrook Associates of Centerbrook, Connecticut.
The new facility has features in all of the LEED categories: innovation and design process, sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality. It achieves notable results benefiting the environment, including sustainable design; environmentally preferable materials; recycled content materials; construction waste recycling; alternative energy systems which capture geothermal, solar, and wind energy; and energy and water conservation.
The September 13, 2003 groundbreaking ceremony and associated wildlife festival was a popular event and featured both of Vermont's senators, Senators James Jeffords and Patrick Leahy. The new building opened for occupancy during April 2005. Both senators also participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new building on October 15, 2005.
The Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge facility strives to minimize the negative environmental impacts of construction. Achievements of the project include selection of recycled materials, efficient use of energy, and water conservation and runoff treatment.
The new Headquarters and Visitor Contact Station is sited in a saddle area of a wooded knoll. It is positioned to take advantage of the distant views of the lake to the north, mountains to the south, and the near views of the woodland edge to the east. Large glass areas of the facade are designed as a passive solar feature, warming the stone floor and wall surfaces that reradiate heat to the interior.
The site location is relatively open with few trees in the immediate area and is close to the entrance road. Light colored decking and roofing materials are provided so that reflected light can increase the indirect daylight contribution.
The building design has many attributes amenable for day-lighting and passive solar heating by the orientation of the building. The stone mass walls help to absorb solar radiation in the winter and also reduce temperature swings in the space. To avoid adding summer cooling load, glazing for effective day-lighting has been orientated close to true south. The building overhangs extend out to point 30 degrees from the bottom of the glazed opening to be effective at limiting solar gain during the summer.
Environmentally Preferable and Recycled Content Materials
Building materials for this project were selected for low impact on the environment. The building's sizeable columns and roof framing members are composed of engineered wood, eliminating the use of old growth, large timbers for structural elements. Engineered wood is manufactured from younger trees and wood strands. It utilizes wood pieces from fast growing trees, thus minimizing depletion of forests and using wood scraps efficiently.
Extensive use was made of recycled content materials. Materials with low or no Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) or hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) were selected. Exterior decks and benches are constructed of recycled composite lumber containing post consumer recycled plastic and post manufacturer recycled wood. Toilet partitions are manufactured from recycled content HDPE plastic. Entrance mats for the four vestibules are manufactured from recycled tires. Blown cellulose insulation is manufactured from recycled wood and paper products, and treated against organic growths and water retention. Salvaged barn boards were utilized for interior finish millwork and for standing and running trim. Salvaged stone from a former barn on the refuge was utilized on the project, including stone suitable for use as the hearthstone, as well as stone suitable for veneer wall construction. Salvaged barn timbers were also incorporated into the construction of the project. The wood backer panels for the salvaged barn timbers are made from sustainable raw materials. Substrates for the wood veneers are a non-toxic honey-comb core material made from recycled paper waste. These panels are manufactured without the addition of any formaldehyde. Alkaline copper quartenary (ACQ) preservative was used for exterior, pressure-treated wood. It does not contain arsenic or chromium, and is not considered hazardous by the Environmental Protection Agency, unlike many other wood preservatives. Paint products containing low or no VOC products were used. T-8 low mercury green tip fluorescent lamps are installed in the building's light fixtures.
Specific environmental procedures were incorporated into the technical specifications of the construction contract documents. Waste management methods were used on the construction site to recycle wood, metals, paper, and plastics accepted by local contractors. Water conservation measures were employed to minimize water use through careful construction practices. Water use was also minimized during clean-up through dry cleaning methods. Pollution prevention was encouraged to minimize materials going to landfills through re-use, salvaging, and recycling. Waste reduction was practiced through careful management of materials. Cut off pieces of lumber were used for blocking. Trigger activated spray nozzles were utilized to conserve water. Suitable materials with the greatest recycled (post production and/or post consumer) content were used where possible to satisfy all other specified requirements. To conserve energy, motors and equipment were not allowed to be left running when not in use. All hazardous, toxic, or poisonous material was kept locked in containers when not in use or when left unattended. Soil excavated from storm run-off cleansing basins was reused as loam throughout the site.
Construction materials and packaging materials were recycled to the maximum extent possible to minimize impact on landfills. Excess soil, stone, and building materials were recycled during construction, rather than being disposed of in a landfill. A recycling station adjacent to the building entrance will enable the public and the refuge staff to collect and recycle paper, cardboard, glass, aluminum, and other recyclable products.
Energy conserving features of the Missisquoi NWR facility include a southeastern orientation; a well-insulated building envelope; extensive use of natural day-lighting; a geothermal heating ventilation and air conditioning system; a photovoltaic solar array; a wind turbine; and energy efficient lighting including timers and a light-dimming system controlled by the amount of external daylight. Rooms have motion-detection devices which shut lights off when the room is no longer occupied. Energy efficient casement style windows are provided with triple glazing.
The Service's design team also partnered with Efficiency Vermont for technical advice in developing geothermal, solar, and wind alternative energy systems for the new facility.
Efficiency Vermont is an independent statewide utility which was established to deliver energy efficiency services to the people of Vermont. Early in the project planning phase, the Service's design team met with Efficiency Vermont to review and develop energy efficient options for the new refuge headquarters and visitor contact station facility. Efficiency Vermont agreed to partner with the Service to reduce electric use and costs on the Missisquoi NWR project. Efficiency Vermont provided up to $7,000 in financial incentives to the Service, through a formal incentive agreement, for the installation of the following energy saving measures:
Geothermal: A groundwater cooled HVAC system has been incorporated into the building construction to lower energy consumption and to reduce operating costs. It is fortunate that the site has a well that can provide a yield of up to 150 gallons per minute of groundwater having a constant temperature range between 52 to 56 degrees. This abundant groundwater source provides the opportunity to cool the building geo-thermally. The HVAC system design includes fourteen horizontal concealed fan coil units for utilizing the geo-thermally cooled ground water. These fan coil units were sized by the designer to maximize cooling capacity to meet sensible dry cooling needs.
Solar: A roof mounted 15kW photovoltaic solar array with grid-tied battery-less inverters provides an estimated 15,600 kWh/year of electrical power. The inverter is connected to the main building panel to allow for its direct connection to the utility grid.
Wind: A 10 kW wind turbine, mounted on an 80 foot tower, with a grid-tied battery less inverter provides an estimated 6,600 kWh per year of electrical power. The inverter is connected to the main building panel to allow for its direct connection to the utility grid.
Water conservation and recharge is an important feature of the facility. Geothermal well water and runoff from road and parking hard surfaces is directed to a series of recharge basins seeded with moisture-loving native plants. Both cleaning and recharge begin as the water moves through several basins. Boardwalks with interpretive panels will allow close access to the wetlands and basins, providing education on the benefits of wetlands, wise resource management, and good stewardship.
In the restrooms, low-flush toilets and waterless urinals minimize the amount of water sent to the on-site subsurface wastewater treatment system. Water conservation measures are estimated to save 250 kgal on-site well-water annually.
Summary of Accomplishments
This state-of-the-art facility will achieve exemplary results benefiting the environment through:
U.S. Department of the Interior
Greening of the Interior