Edith Green – Wendell Wyatt receives AIA National’s highest sustainability honor

by | April 22, 2016 0 Architecture
2016 AIA COTE Top Ten Plus winner

This Earth Day, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) recognizes the Edith Green – Wendell Wyatt Federal Building with this year’s Committee on the Environment (COTE) Top Ten Plus Award for reaching impressive resource efficiency following its 2009-2013 sustainable modernization. Extensive aftercare studies show that the building at 1220 SW 3rd Ave. boasts 55% energy savings and 65% water savings over the original 1974 building.

The COTE Top Ten Plus Award honors only one project in the United States each year; the project is selected among previous years’ COTE Top Ten winners. The Edith Green – Wendell Wyatt (EGWW) Federal Building was designed by Portland-based SERA Architects and Cutler Anderson Architects of Bainbridge Island, Wash., for the General Services Administration – Region 10 NW Arctic Region. Their work was lauded by this year’s COTE jury:

“This project transforms a generic concrete office building into a high-performance, environmentally responsive, comfortable place to work. This sets a great precedent for re-use and upgrade, and demonstrates the potential for creative, green re-use projects.”


By the numbers, here’s how EGWW performs:

55% less energy over the original structure, saving close to $313,000 in energy savings per year

By replacing the building’s concrete panel exterior with a glass curtain wall, EGWW now meets seismic guidelines. Exterior shading and reflecting elements on each façade shade the interiors during hot summers, and reduce the need for electrical lighting. The curtain wall system allowed for the use of radiant heating and cooling ceiling panels, which are also more energy efficient than traditional HVAC. On the rooftop, a 180 kW solar array shades the upper floors while generating energy.

65% reduction in water use, saving close to 4 million gallons of water per year

Rainwater collected on the rooftop PV array is channeled to a 160,000-gallon underground tank repurposed from a former rifle range. The rainwater is used to flush toilets and irrigate the landscape in the summer. Water-conserving plumbing fixtures contribute to the water savings.

31,000 square feet of added rentable space

The new curtain wall freed up two feet along the perimeter of each floor, and the radiant heating and cooling system eliminated mechanical equipment and duct work throughout. Together, this provided nearly two additional floors worth of rentable space for the GSA. The radiant heating and cooling system also resulted in a projected lifecycle cost reduction of $2 million compared to traditional Variable Air Volume Air Systems.

75% of occupants like their new building

Designed with employee health and comfort in mind, EGWW has a 75% occupant satisfaction rating, according to a recent survey of tenants.


In 2009, EGWW received funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to undergo a major renovation to replace outdated equipment and systems. This funding stipulated the 18-story, 512,474 square-foot office tower must meet the stringent energy and water conservation requirements of the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA).

“Our team was tasked with converting an aging energy hog into one of GSA’s highest-performing buildings,” said Don Eggleston, principal at SERA Architects. “We did just that. The outcome of the building exemplifies modern, climate-responsive design.”

Since the building’s completion, post-occupancy studies have helped to refine and further improve the building’s actual performance, and provide feedback to the Government Services Administration (GSA) and design team for future work. These studies were conducted collaboratively by members of the design team, contractor Howard S. Wright Construction, the GSA Region 10, GSA’s Office of Federal High Performance Green Buildings, and third-party research entities.

“We’re proud that this GSA cornerstone building is one of the most efficient office buildings in the country,” said Kimberly Gray, GSA Director of Facilities Management Division. “Our tenants regularly give us feedback about how they enjoy all of the building features, especially the increased exposure to daylight throughout.”

EGWW is the fourth winner of the AIA COTE Top Ten Plus Award. For more information, view the project’s winning submission.

Contact: Shelby Schroeder, Marketing Communications Coordinator, SERA Architects, Inc. 503-445-7393 | Email

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