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Posted 6/18/2012

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By Carlos Lazo
Sacramento District

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — In 1918, the U.S. Congress adopted the use of time zones and approved daylight savings time; the Boston Red Sox defeated the Chicago Cubs at the World Series, thanks to a guy named Babe Ruth; and Grand Junction, Colo., welcomed a new building that served as a post office and courthouse.

More than 90 years later, that same building -- named the Wayne N. Aspinall Federal Building in 1972 -- is now on its way to being the first federal building under the U.S. General Services Administration to achieve a net zero energy rating. Net zero energy means the building will produce enough energy to balance its annual electrical demand to zero or better.

Among the building's tenants is the Grand Junction Regulatory Office of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District, who moved in to their new office space June 4.

"We all enjoy the new and updated space," said Susan Nall, branch chief for the office. "It's much quieter, cooler and more modern."

The modernization of the historic building was accomplished through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Work is scheduled to be complete in January 2013.

Although work still continues in and out of the building, the regulatory office is already enjoying their new space, which includes a new conference room and small kitchen area. The best part for Nall is that everyone is located in one place.

"We're all located together now," said Nall. "We now have a professional office space instead of rooms made to fit us and our items."

Some of the green building initiatives and strategies being used at the building include a 115- kilowatt roof and canopy mounted with photovoltaic panels -- which will produce enough energy to power 15 homes -- and a geothermal system that will absorb heat from the building in the summer and heat it during the winter.

The GSA also aims to reach a LEED platinum rating for the building. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a voluntary, consensus-based standard to support and certify successful green building design, construction and operations according to the U.S. Green Building Council. Platinum is the highest of the four categories used by LEED.

The Corps has completed similar projects, including utilizing photovoltaic panels at various park sites in California, which are driven by two executive orders (Executive Orders 13423 and 13514) that require all federal agencies to reduce energy consumption and reduce greenhouse gases, and start utilizing recycled materials wherever possible.