Green Buildings Save Green

Green Wall Proposal for the Portland Federal Building © Scott Baumberger, Baumberger Studio

The Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory () was commissioned by the Government Services Administration () to conduct a post-occupancy evaluation of 22 “green” federal buildings from across the United States. The report stats reveal that not only does these “green” buildings emit 34 percent less carbon dioxide and are using 11 percent less water, they cost on average 19 percent less to maintain. In addition to the environmental and economical savings, the evaluation reports that the occupants are more satisfied in the “green” buildings by 27 percent.

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“To measure green building performance you must look at the building holistically, which includes the occupants and maintenance impacts in addition to the commonly targeted energy and water use,” said Kim Fowler, a senior research engineer and buildings relationship manager at PNNL, who is lead author of the paper. “One can design and construct a building well, with the greenest of specifications, but if it’s not operated well or isn’t meeting the needs of the occupants, the grandest intents go out the operable window.”

PNNL conducted the analysis on seven GSA’s national administrative regions and compared their findings to average commercial buildings and GSA’s baseline measurments of its sustainably constructed buildings.

One of the buildings evaluated was the United States Courthouse in Seattle. Featuring radiant floor heating, high efficient lighting, an energy management system, natural gas boiler and waterless urinals, the analysis found that janitorial costs were slightly higher but the building’s operating cost were 35 percent lower than the industry baseline.

Buildings Evaluated

East coast:

  • Census Bureau Office Complex, Suitland, Md.
  • SAMHSA Metropolitan Service Center, Rockville, Md.


  • Rush H. Limbaugh U.S. Courthouse, Cape Girardeau, Mo.
  • Carl T. Curtis NPS Midwest Regional Headquarters, Omaha, Neb.
  • Davenport U.S. Courthouse, Davenport, Iowa
  • Nathaniel R. Jones Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse, Youngstown, Ohio
  • Howard M. Metzenbaum U.S. Courthouse, Cleveland, Ohio
  • DHS Citizenship & Immigration Services, Omaha, Neb.


  • Alfred A. Arraj U.S. Courthouse, Denver
  • EPA Region 8 Headquarters, Denver
  • Lloyd D. George U.S. Courthouse, Las Vegas
  • DOT Colorado Field Office, Lakewood, Colo.
  • Scowcroft IRS Utah Field Office, Ogden, Utah

Pacific Northwest:

  • Auburn SSA Teleservice Center, Auburn, Wash.
  • United States Courthouse, Seattle
  • Wayne L. Morse U.S. Courthouse, Eugene, Ore.


  • John J. Duncan Federal Building, Knoxville, Tenn.
  • Chas E. Bennett Federal Building, Jacksonville, Fla.
  • James H. Quillen U.S. Courthouse, Greeneville, N.C.

West coast:

  • Robert E. Coyle U.S. Courthouse and Federal Building, Fresno, Calif.
  • San Francisco Federal Building, San Francisco
  • Santa Ana Federal Building, Santa Ana, Calif.

Reference: PNNL

Cite: Rosenfield, Karissa. "Green Buildings Save Green" 19 Dec 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 01 Apr 2015. <>
  • David

    I’m told that Portland is (this) close to dumping this project.

  • was carless

    Considering this building is halfway through construction, and they are wrapping up facade replacement and the solar shading screen, that is highly doubtful. This renovation was approved and fully funded about a year ago.

    Latest pics here: