Health Department's Lab Achieves Green Building Certification

September 15, 2011

  • JoAnne Jorgenson Laboratory now fourth LEED Gold© certified county building.
  • Green features include adaptive reuse of a existing building, energy-efficient heating and cooling and water conservation.

The Health Department’s newly renovated JoAnne Jorgenson Laboratory received a LEED Gold© rating from the U.S. Green Building Council©.

This green building certification makes the lab the fourth building in the county to attain gold status. The county’s other gold certified facilities are the Martha Washington Library, Richard Byrd Library, and Crosspointe Fire Station.

The lab incorporates a host of green features, including:

  •  Adaptive reuse an of existing building: The lab is located in the former Belle Willard Elementary School in the city of Fairfax, and the renovations retained 75 percent of the building’s existing walls, floors, and roof. This adaptive reuse was cheaper than constructing a completely new building. It also reduced the amount of landfill debris that would have been generated by tearing down the building. And, it preserved a building that the city designated as historic.

  • Energy-efficient heating and cooling: The building uses a flat-plate exchanger that recovers the energy used to heat and cool the lab. This technology returns to the building 40 percent of the energy required to heat the lab in the winter and 25 percent of the energy needed to cool it in summer. The HVAC system also is controlled by a computer-controlled energy management system.

  • Low mercury light bulbs: Fluorescent light bulbs that contain low amounts of mercury are used to light the interior, and for the first time, the county used these bulbs to help achieve LEED certification.

  • Water conservation: The lab conserves water through the use of waterless urinals and low-flow faucets and toilets. Drought tolerant, native plants are also used for landscaping.

The lab performs environmental and clinical tests, including for infectious diseases. It is a Biosafety Level 3 facility, which is the next to highest safety certification. This means that the lab can safely handle biological agents that can be spread through the air like tuberculosis.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors adopted a green building policy for county facilities in 2008. The policy requires that buildings with more than 10,000 square feet be constructed to meet minimum green building standards, if not exceed them. The policy applies to the design and construction of new county buildings and renovations or additions to existing county buildings.

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