U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 8 Headquarters, Denver, CO

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) works to protect human health and the environment, and helps to develop and enforce environmental laws. As part of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) Design Excellence Program, Syska Hennessy Group was selected by the Opus Northwest/ZGF Architects design-build team to provide engineering services for the EPA’s new, environmentally sensitive regional headquarters building in one of Denver’s most important historical and civic districts.

The building is situated on an urban brownfield site that formerly housed a U.S. Postal Service annex. Denver’s street grid system is 45 degrees off the cardinal compass directions, making solar control of the building envelope crucial to the project’s energy performance targets.

At the project’s inception, iterative energy and daylight simulation studies were carried out to explore alternative integrated design strategies that might be implemented to optimize the building’s energy performance and daylighting. Through this iterative and integrative modeling process, Syska helped the architectural team evaluate building envelope performance criteria and design, as well as understand the energy impacts of various mechanical air distribution strategies, such as conventional overhead versus underfloor air distribution, and achieve a 47-percent energy use reduction and over a 30-percent water use reduction compared to the baseline building.

Some of the sustainable features integrated into the design include:

  • Underfloor air distribution.
  • Air-side economizers for free cooling.
  • District steam to hot-water converters for heating.
  • Energy-recovered steam condensate for domestic hot water.
  • Low-flow plumbing fixtures and water-free urinals.
  • Stormwater collection and reuse system.
  • Lighting efficiency fixtures and daylighting controls.
  • Rooftop photovoltaic system.
  • Green roof.

As a federal building, this new headquarters had to meet U.S. Department of Homeland Security requirements. Successful high-performance design integration resulted in a LEED Gold certification.

EcoStructure magazine, Evergreen Award, Ecommercial category, 2009
American Institute of Architects (AIA) Award, 2006
U.S. Department of Energy, Federal Energy Saver Showcase, 2007
Downtown Denver, Annual Award, 2006
NAIOP Colorado Chapter, Development of the Year, 2006
Architect magazine R&D Award, Atrium Daylighting Control System, 2007
Lower Downtown Denver (LoDo), Sustainable Design Award, 2008
Associated General Contractors of Colorado, Jack Mincher People’s Choice Award, 2007
AIA Seattle COTE, What Makes it Green? Top 10 projects, 2009
European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies, Green Good Design Award, 2009
Design-Build Institute of America, Developer – Design-Build Merit Award, 2008
Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design, American Architecture Award, 2008

LEED Status
LEED© Gold

300,000 sf

U.S. General Services Administration


OPUS Northwest

Sustainable Design
Energy simulations
High-efficiency heating and cooling
Energy-star certified
GSA Security Standards