Features of Our Green Building
The roof of our new building is covered with sedum plants. Planting on a roof this way creates what is known as a green roof. The plants absorb rain water and heat, moderating runoff and temperature. A conventional gravel roof can reach temperatures above 150 degrees on a summer day, but a green roof stays at the temperature of the air around it.
The green roof cost us $20,000. We expect to recoup that cost in fives years through energy efficiency; it costs less to cool a building when its roof is not 150 degrees.
We believe that green roofs conserve the world’s energy resources by using indigenous plant life instead of air conditioning to cool city buildings.
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.
The floors in our new building are made of bamboo, not hardwood. Bamboo is a fast-growing weed, much easier to replenish than the forests that must be cut down to provide conventional hardwood floors.
It cost us the same amount to use bamboo floors as it would have cost to lay conventional wood floor.
We believe that sustainable construction through the use of more easily replenishable materials like bamboo can help minimize resource scarcity.
Energy Efficient Windows
The windows in FCNL’s building are designed to prevent unnecessary loss of heat in winter and cool air in summer. The windows also open easily, so we can welcome fresh air into the building during Washington’s temperate autumn and spring. The windows are coated with a glaze that reduces heat transfer and ultra-violent light.
We believe energy-efficient windows, because of their wide availability, are one of the easiest ways to decrease the use of fossil fuels through energy efficiency.
Eco-Friendly Office Desks
The furniture in our new building is Green Guard Certified. This means that it is highly durable, made without toxic chemicals, and constructed using recycled or rapidly renewable materials. Standard office furniture often emits small doses of toxic gases; that “new car smell” is bad for you!
We believe that the equipment we use to do our work ought to be as healthy for the environment as the building itself. It should also be durable to avoid the creation of waste that results from discarding flimsy materials when they inevitably break.
Geothermal Heating and Cooling
FCNL's building uses a geothermal heat pump instead of a conventional heating and cooling system. The pump consists of a network of piping that carries water down under the earth and back through the walls of the building, using the constant 55 degree temperature of the Earth’s crust to heat the building in the winter and cool it in the summer. FCNL’s heating and cooling therefore does not depend upon gas or oil and uses electricity only to the extent necessary to run the pump. We expect our heating cost to be 40% less per year in comparison with conventional heating and cooling.
The use of fossil fuels to heat and cool buildings contributes to pollution and global warming and is an unsustainable practice. The use of renewable resources like geothermal power is the best way to preserve the environment for future generations.
The building has space set aside for bicycle parking. By providing space for bicycles and enabling cyclists to shower on arrival, FCNL gives employees an alternative to private automobiles, helping to reduce the DC region’s growing transportation problems. Many members of our staff regularly commute to work by bike from across the metro region. Located within walking distance of a Metro stop, FCNL also provides Metro passes for subway and bus travel to those who don’t cycle.
Our new building complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) federal guidelines for building accessibility. Because we occupy a historic structure, FCNL is exempt from compliance with the ADA. However, we lobbied for passage of the ADA, and felt it proper to comply anyway.
The new building includes an outside ramp, an elevator, and wheelchair-accessible restrooms and copy machines.
We are particularly proud of our Ecospace elevator, which does not use hydraulic fluid, making it much more environmentally friendly and energy efficient than standard hydraulic elevators.