High-profile owners and projects have been grabbing most of the green headlines lately, but it’s important to note more esoteric projects that are similarly implementing sustainable design practices; after all, it’s not every day that green building news includes a 120-year-old wastewater treatment facility.
The William X. Wall Experimental Station in Lawrence, Massachusetts was the first sewer plant ever built in the United States. It came on line in 1887, in part to battle a local typhoid fever epidemic that was raging at the time, stemming from water quality in the Merrimack River which residents of Lawrence and nearby Lowell used for drinking water. In 1975, the lab was designated as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers. It helped establish the groundwork for modern wastewater treatment practices, but had not been upgraded since it was rebuilt in 1954. The lab now performs diverse types of environmental analyses on water, air, fish, and hazardous waste samples for both commercial and municipal labs.
The lab will seek an unspecified LEED rating for its two-year expansion and renovation project, which broke ground on November 16. The $16 million first phase of construction will add 13,000 square feet to the 22,000-square-foot facility, while the second $6 million will renovate the existing laboratory spaces. Green design features are LEED-standard and include extensive daylighting, an efficient HVAC system, and parking spaces reserved for hybrid vehicles, as well as building-integrated photovoltaics and a green roof and graywater recycling system. Of course, it’s also always a plus to see sustainable design support a building whose very function is to serve as a steward of the local environment. The project team includes architects Perkins + Will and construction manager O’Connor Constructors.