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Sheldon-Hart Mountain National Wildlife Refuge Complex Headquarters



Fish and Wildlife Service, Oregon

Project Point of Contact

Paul Steblein
(541) 947-3315
paul_steblein@fws.gov

Summary

The former headquarters office for Sheldon-Hart Mountain NWR Complex has been in deteriorating leased space for several decades with health and safety issues including asbestos, lead paint, radon gas, faulty HVAC, insect pests, compliance with fire regulations, and inadequate cleaning and repairs. An existing facility with energy efficient (passive solar design, great insulation, solar water heater), commercial styled building was purchased, remodeling designs completed (including further energy efficient improvements geothermal heatpump, efficient lighting), and renovations completed. Additional improvements are planned (solar and wind power generators, native xeric landscaping) and for technology demonstration and interpretation programs displaying sustainability and building revitalization and utilization rather than new construction at a federal facility.

Description

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service needed safe, productive, and cost-effective office space for the Sheldon-Hart Mountain National Wildlife Refuge Complex headquarters. The condition of the facility had deteriorated over time, presenting health and safety issues for refuge staff, including asbestos; lead paint; radon gas; faulty heating, ventilation, and air conditioning; insect pests; compliance with fire regulations; and inadequate cleaning and repairs. Furthermore, leased space costs had been steadily rising. The Refuge Complex office also had no opportunity to welcome and orient the public to Sheldon and Hart Mountain Refuges, or the Refuge System.

Refuge staff examined renovation of current space, co-locating with other federal agencies in another GSA facility, other rental options, and building on federal land. While completing this review, a 78 acre parcel was identified with an existing energy efficient (passive solar design, great insulation, solar water heater), commercial styled building and a large steel barn. The project demonstrated a cost-effective way to provide safe and productive office space while protecting and improving the environment. These include:

  • Rather than developing a new site that results in habitat loss, existing facilities were reused, and associated lands will receive habitat improvements (e.g., invasive species control);

  • The existing facilities on the purchased land were energy efficient and well engineered, remodeling further improved energy efficiency reducing the carbon footprint for refuge operations;

  • The contract process provided local jobs, developed expertise and capacity for green projects, and reflected an effective partnership to complete the project with contractors, staff, and volunteers;

  • Cost savings from leased space, utilities, and maintenance will be redirected to habitat management on Sheldon and Hart Mountain Refuges;

  • The new refuge headquarters will provide new mission capability to welcome and orient the public and provide demonstration and education of energy conservation and generation for small businesses and families, provide recreational opportunities across federal lands in the region, and education/interpretation with schools, libraries and conservation/sportsmen/community groups.

The most important aspect of green design for the new headquarters office for the refuge complex was finding land and buildings that were ideally suited by location, size, and design. The property had a passive solar design (location, size and tint of windows; orientation of building, design of eaves for capture of sun in winter and minimization in summer), high energy conservation (thick wall and ceiling insulation, double-pane gas filled windows, aggregate floor for mass thermal storage, air tight walls/windows/doors), and solar water heater. The remodeling resulted in a number of green enhancements. Lighting was converted to highly efficient fluorescent and LED lights. Electric wall heaters were replaced by groundsource heatpump HVAC. Specifications have also been developed for implementation in the next year for an 8.4 KW grid-tied photovoltaic array and 2.4 KW grid-tied wind generator, which is expected to result in a zero carbon footprint structure. The open design of the original facility was largely kept by using existing walls and rooms where possible. Existing fixtures were re-used where possible.

Remodeling was completed by refuge staff, Regional Office, and local contractors. Development of exhibits and programs is being explored with The High Desert Museum, Lake County Library, Lake County School System, Friends of Hart Mountain, Order of the Antelope and other conservation groups. Although a large share of work was completed by local contractors, USFWS staff also completed some of the work.

Results and Achievements

Purchase of land and facilities with remodeling into office space was the most cost-effective and sustainable practice to provide facilities to support the management of two large national wildlife refuges. A cost analysis examined a number of alternatives, including staying in the current leased/owned space, co-locating in other federal offices, variations of constructing a new facility, and the selected alternative purchasing and refitting existing building and land. The current investment in new headquarters is expected to be recovered in about 13 years at the current GSA leased space cost, and even sooner when compared to lease costs for new space. Retrofitting existing facilities for office space will amount to about just ½ the cost of building a new office, and included 78 acres and large steel barn with purchase price. The highly efficient building design is also expected to result in low recurring costs for utilities and maintenance. Initial Cost Comparisons of Available Options for the Sheldon-Hart Mountain NWRC Office. Estimated final cost is approximately $650,000 for buildings, land office remodeling, and energy efficiency improvements.

Options Startup
Cost
Estimate
Cost/Year
Years to Recover
Investment at
Current GSA Rate
Timeline
Remain in Leased Space
Requires Rehabilitation Work
$42,596 Infinite Periodic Renew at Higher Rate
Relocate to Interagency Office
Moving & Setup Costs
$107,000 Infinite Periodic Renew at Higher Rate
Acquire Facilities with DM Funds
$550,000 $23,750 12.9 FY 2009
Build New with Construction Funds
$1,000,000 $35,000 23.5 Beyond FY 2013

Innovation

The Service pursued an unusual solution based on an excellent opportunity to have productive, efficient, and cost-effective facilities for the headquarters of Sheldon Hart Mountain NWR Complex. An ideal property with easily converted facilities was available for purchase to replace inadequate and costly leased space. After comparing alternatives, the refuge worked with the Regional and Washington Offices to seek approval for a new administrative site, complete NEPA analysis, and secure Director approval to use Deferred Maintenance funds to replace leased space and Service-owned facilities. All laws, policies and building codes were followed in the project. The purchased facility was appropriately sized, well engineered, and highly energy efficient. Remodeling and furnishings with additional energy efficiency measures was accomplished at about $250,000 with local contractors.

Replicability

The most important characteristic of this project was the identification of an acceptable existing site that could be easily modified for government use and still meet the greening goals of E.O.  13514. Sheldon-Hart Mountain NWR used a collaboration of federal and local government officials as well as contractors to achieve the maximum benefit in a new facility for the lowest cost.