Fort Worth Post Office Tests Green Design

With 35,000 facilities, and 500-700 new ones going up each year, the USPS has an enormous building program. A wide range of green building features are being tested in a series of showcase facilities. The first to be completed is the 25,500 square foot Eighth Avenue Post Office in Fort Worth, Texas, which opened for business early this year.

The budget for the Eighth Avenue Post Office allowed for a cost premium of up to 10 percent to cover experimental green strategies, for a total budget of $93.50 per square foot.

Among the environmental strategies at this facility are rainwater catchment, daylighting, high-efficiency lighting and HVAC, native plantings, and the use of various low-impact, certified wood and recycled materials. Interpretive signage explains these features to visitors.

Recycled materials are used in:
— Mulch: recycled cellulose and yard scraps
— Base aggregate (for paving and under slab): recycled concrete & stone
— Concrete: waste fly ash
— Toilet partitions: recycled plastic
— Dock bumpers: recycled tires
— Wall bumpers: recycled plastic
— Acoustical ceiling tiles: recycled cellulose
— Sheathing/millwork panels: recycled cellulose

The drinking water rainwater catchment system is rare in non-residential buildings. As a semi-private federal agency, the Postal Service is not under the jurisdiction of local building and health codes, thus eliminating the usual roadblocks.

To protect the indoor environment, low-VOC materials, natural and full-spectrum lighting, and positive-pressure ventilation (reduces moisture-related air quality problems) were used.

The most significant green material choice in the project was the use of straw-and-OSB wall panels from Agriboard Industries. The contractor was initially skeptical. After using the product, Penntex Construction President Lee Smith wrote to Agriboard: “Agriboard costs less than concrete tilt up and other commercial building systems I have used. The panel installation job took only a little over five days; the panels went together very precisely and look great.” A stucco and limestone veneer provides the exterior finish on the building.

Another showcase environmental Post Office is under construction in Raleigh, North Carolina, also using Agriboard panels. A third is being designed for the Northeast.

The construction industry uses 40 percent of the world’s total raw materials, 16 percent of world’s water consumption, 40 percent of the world’s energy consumption (including construction & operations), and 20 percent of the trash sent to landfills.

Contact: Ujwala Tamaskar, USPS
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