Denver Water is Colorado’s oldest and largest water utility, collecting, treating, and distributing drinking water to 1.5 million people in Denver and its surrounding suburbs. Acting in equal parts exemplary clean water provider, progressive community member and conscientious employer the organization takes pride in its visionary approach as a utility service. Its central operations complex however, including its administration building southeast of downtown Denver, had become outdated, inefficient, and inadequate to effectively support the company’s goals and the future demands of the community.
Offering a comprehensives suite of services including master planning, architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, lighting design, and sustainable design, the globally integrated design firm Stantec was chosen to help the organization rebuild its campus from the ground up to more effectively achieve its aspirations. Now, after the culmination of four years of planning and construction, Denver Water has recently opened its new six-story, 186,000-square-foot administration building, the central focus of its 35-acre operations complex. Working alongside Denver Water, the General Contractor Mortenson Construction and the Owner’s Representative Trammell Crow, the Stantec designed building is not only on track for LEED Platinum certification and Net Zero Energy use, but it also stands poised to introduce the most revolutionary approach to office scaled water conservation and reuse in the State of Colorado.
Sustainable Strategy for LEED and Net Zero
The innovative, new office building serves as the administrative heart of Denver Water’s redesigned campus, linking eight new or fully renovated facilities including the new warehouse, meter shop, trades and fleet buildings completed in 2017. Long and thin in its form, the building evokes a slot canyon sculpted by the natural flow of water over many years. The building form maximizes daylighting and views, while reducing the need for artificial lights. Targeting LEED-NC Platinum certification and Net Zero Energy, the building’s sustainable features include: onsite solar; a radiant slab powered by the complex’s central utility plant to conserve heat and energy; a high-efficiency triple pane-glazed window system; and biophilic design. Further ingenuity in energy efficiency is realized by tapping into one of the adjacent potable water conduits from Denver Water’s own water supply as a variable temperature heat-sync.
Holistic Plan for Water Use and Reuse
Perhaps the most pioneering aspect of the campus, and particularly of the admin building, is how it addresses water sustainability. Called “One Water,” Denver Water has developed a holistic plan for water efficiency and reuse that promotes the right water source for the right use. The philosophy is integrated into and around the building’s core design, through a number of effective potable and non-potable strategies, including low water-use landscaping, bioswales, wetlands for water quality and control; as well as low flow, WaterSense-labeled fixtures for restrooms, break areas, and the employee cafeteria.
The facility’s two most innovative “One Water” strategies are the rainwater capture for irrigation and onsite wastewater treatment and recycling for reuse in the building and on the site. The design of these systems is a first in Colorado, with Denver Water working to expand state regulations, clearing the way for other new developments to work on their own One Water solutions.
“This culminates nearly a decade of planning and years of construction, all with an eye on becoming more operationally efficient, sustainable and publicly accessible,” said Jim Lochhead, Denver Water CEO/Manager. “These new facilities will help us serve our customers better.”
“In partnership with Denver Water, Trammell Crow, and Mortensen Construction, we’re excited to see this transformational project officially open,” said Josh Gould, Stantec’s Denver-based Vice President, Buildings. “Stantec’s commitment to sustainability aligns with Denver Water’s aspiration to make a long-lasting difference in the region. Together we pushed the boundaries of water use and reuse, creating safe and replicable water efficiency solutions that are scalable nationwide.”
Designing sustainable campuses
Stantec is working with clients across North America who are increasingly recognizing the need to apply sustainable concepts on a larger campus scale, moving beyond the single signature building. The California Military Department Headquarters in Rancho Cordova, CA is net-zero energy project reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving energy efficiency across their multi-building complex. McGregor Square in Denver, CO is pursuing the WELL Community rating system for its whole urban development project, leveraging design to improve health and wellbeing for the broader community. Stantec led the development of the campus strategic sustainability plan for the Thompson Rivers University in British Columbia to create a holistic framework for future planning.