Although there is a growing push for incresing sustainability for buildings, our nation’s capital is lagging behind other cities when it comes to green buildings. Though there are over 600 LEED certified buildings nationwide, only 6 of them are in Washington DC.
The Friends Committee on National Legislation is a Quaker lobbying group in Washington DC. Their building is the first "green" building on Capitol Hill. The building received bipartisan congressional recognition at an event last week. They are anticipating LEED certification (which normally takes a few months after the building is substantially completed), and the building has already received other accolades, including the Washington Chapter of the American Institute of Architects awarding a presidential Citation for Sustainable Design.
The building features a vegetated roof planted with sedum, energy efficient windows, bamboo flooring and other sustainably harvested woods, and a list of other LEED checklist items. It also utilizes a ground-source heat pump despite the fact that it is situated in an urban neighborhood with neighboring buildings. Ten 350 foot deep wells are used to circulate a non-fluorocarbon fluid to maintain a 55 degree temperature for the heating and cooling system.
The most striking element is the light scoop. A south facing window on the roof and a curved, reflective ceiling direct sunlight down through the elevator lobbies to bring natural daylight to all floors of the building. There’s even a cool QuickTime 360-degree "virtual tour" inside the light scoop that gives you a good sense of how the light scoop illuminates the building.
"FCNL’s building conserves electricity by maximizing the use of natural light through the use of a light scoop. The light scoop consists of rooftop windows that scoop daylight into the central core of the building; the light is then conveyed to the second and first levels below by glass flooring in the elevator lobbies. In addition to conserving electricity, this use of natural light makes FCNL a more pleasant place to work, as natural light has been shown to have healthful benefits."
This project also maintains the character of its neighborhood by preserving and re-using portions of two Civil War-era buildings, rather than demolishing them to build new construction. The architect’s statement speaks of an intent to "…restore exterior fabric of two historic townhouse buildings, while renovating and expanding the interiors to meet modern office standards and incorporate sustainable design technologies."
Size: 12,000 sq. ft.
Location: Washington DC
Architect: Burt Hill