Green Fed Building Makeover Comes To Denver

The Recovery Act isn’t over yet, not in Denver. In fact, at 1244 Speer Blvd. in Denver, it’s just getting started. There, work has now begun to transform the federal Cesar E. Chavez Memorial Building into a vastly more energy efficient workplace for 290 Internal Revenue Service, Social Security Administration, Department of Agriculture, Government Accountability Office and Department of Education employees.

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) oversees federal buildings and it got more than $4 billion from the Recovery Act to convert federal facilities into “high-performance green buildings.” Around $34 million of that is being poured into Denver’s Chavez building. The highlight of the project, the GSA said, is a new aluminum-and-glass curtain wall system “that will reduce the building’s energy consumption by 30 percent, protect against the effects of a blast, and enhance the natural light and view for the building tenants.”

image via U.S. General Services Administration

Along with that new “skin,” the building will get what the GSA called a “solar sculpture,” on top of a nearby parking structure, that is capable of producing 110 kilowatt hours of energy (presumably in a day, though the agency didn’t say). This will offset 5 percent of building energy use.

When it’s all done – in November 2012, the agency said – the building is expected to meet LEED Silver standards. As for the stated intent of the Recovery Act, yes, the project will create jobs — “more than 100 jobs in our local community in construction and innovative green industries,” said Susan Damour, GSA Rocky Mountain regional administrator.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.