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Edith Green Wendell Wyatt Federal Building

Cutler Anderson Architects
Portland, Oregon

Fiscal Makeover: The revamp of a 1974 GSA building is a critical example of the government's commitment to green.

By Alanna malone
January 2013

After a turbulent decade of delays and redesigns, the team behind the Edith Green–Wendell Wyatt (EGWW) Federal Building is more than ready for its opening, scheduled for May 1, 2013; so are the federal agencies that will be calling it home. Design architect James Cutler of Cutler Anderson Architects and executive architect SERA began designing the retrofit of the 1974 office building in 2003. The project was required to meet LEED Silver certification—an ambitious goal for the federal government at the time—and incorporated a living wall on the west facade. Just as final documentation was being prepared in 2006, the project was shelved because of funding issues.


Location Portland, Oregon

Gross area 525,421 ft2 (48,813 m2)

Date to be completed May 2013

Program Offices, parking garage


Architects SERA Architects (executive); Cutler Anderson Architects (design)

Client General Services Administration—Northwest/Arctic Region

Commissioning agent Glumac

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When it was revived in 2009 with the enactment of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the original design did not meet the escalated federal high-performance building goals defined by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. "The double-wall facade didn't deliver enough energy savings," says Cutler, who worked with SERA on extensive shading analysis. The skin was restructured; only the living wall was retained from the initial scheme.

Six months before the start of construction, the project took another blow when the General Services Administration (GSA) pulled the plug on the living wall. "Vegetation takes two to three years to develop full shading; it was deemed too risky," says Cutler. The team trudged forward by installing aluminum-tube shading devices stretching up the entire height of the west face. The south and east facades have integrated shade and light reflectors, while the north side has flat glazing.

"To get to the lower energy target, we also had to change the motor of the building," says project architect Jim Riley of SERA. "We moved from variable air valve [VAV] to radiant heating and cooling." The radiant system uses 100 percent outside air, which is healthier for occupants and is spatially more efficient, adds Cutler.

The new design is predicted to perform 46 percent above the ASHRAE 90.1-2007 baseline, with an energy-use intensity (EUI) of 31–36 kBtu/sf/year. A 180kW rooftop solar array provides about 5 percent of the building's energy needs and also collects rainwater to be reused in the building. Up to 160,000 gallons can be stored in a former shooting range in the basement and reused for toilet flushing, irrigation, and the cooling tower.

"It's designed to be technically green and emotionally green, so that individuals can understand the technology," says Cutler. "The federal government can be a leader with this kind of building; it's what the government is supposed to do—lead."


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