Wetland Studies and Solutions, Inc.

File Type: Free Content, Case study
Release Date: January 2006
Average Rating:       (0 Ratings)
Wetland Studies and Solutions building

Fast Facts

Address: Gainesville, VA
Company/Developer: The Peterson Companies
Design/Builder: W.A. Brown and Associates
Property Type: Office
Square Feet: 54,000 square feet
Height: 2 stories

Building Description: Completed in December 2005, the Wetland Studies and Solutions, Inc. (WSSI) facility received LEED-CI Gold certification in March 2006. The office building sits on 5.07 acres, 1.18 acres of which have been preserved as open space. The site plan uses retaining walls that minimize slopes, decrease encroachment and protect existing wetlands.


Prince William County gave the WSSI facility a “targeted industry status” to show their commitment to green development. The status saved both time and resources through expedited permit processing and a 50 percent reduction in the County Review fee. Additionally, the county waived all review comments related to the low-impact development site plan and the atypical curb-and-gutter design. The WSSI facility is the eighth project in Virginia to receive LEED certification and the first to achieve the Gold certification level.

Green Features

Sustainable Sites

  • Secure bicycle storage adjacent to the employee entrance at the rear building. WSSI has purchased bicycles and helmets for employee use and installed a biking/nature trail between the building and the neighboring shopping center
  • Locker rooms with shower facilities.
  • Majority of roof is high reflectance (reflects light instead of converting it to heat), with remainder covered in a green roof.
  • Located in a watershed already serviced by an existing regional stormwater management pond.
  • A 3,626-square-foot single-story building extension houses a green roof accessible from a second-story meeting room. The roof has two wetland pods with individual moisture sensor triggered irrigation systems.
  • An 8,000-gallon underground cistern captures the first half-inch of runoff from the building roof. The captured water is used to irrigate the native landscaping.
  • A 265’ water quality swale conveys a small amount of runoff from the southern edge of the site to an existing stream. Three rock check dams filter the BMP volume (approximately 270 cubic feet each) to reduce the pollutant load on downstream waters.
  • Three types of pervious parking areas cover 34 percent of all driving surfaces, which allows water to filter slowly through an underground stone layer to an existing vegetated floodplain instead of draining from the site at erosive velocities as overland runoff.
  • A 10,513-cubic foot area of underground gravel bed detention is the final holding place for site runoff. Reduction in peak runoff rate helps reduce downstream erosion and sedimentation.
  • A 175 square-foot dedicated recycling room on the first floor with an exterior access door and dedicated “recycling pick-up” parking. The materials included for recycling are corrugated cardboard, paper, plastic, metal and glass.
Wetland Studies and Solutions building lobby


Indoor Environmental Quality

  • Air quality monitoring using carbon dioxide sensors to determine the required level of fresh air. An alarm alerts the building engineer if the ventilation system is not working as intended.
  • Low emitting materials throughout—including Benjamin Moore Eco-Spec paint, waterbased concrete stain and sealer, carpet and carpet adhesives—exceed Carpet and Rug Institute’s “Green Label Plus” testing and product requirements.
  • Systems furniture certified by the Greenguard Environmental Institute.
  • Daylight-responsive lighting control within 15 feet of all windows in regularlyoccupied spaces. Controls allow for calibration so that each zone can set the light to their desired levels.
  • Smoking prohibited both within the building and within 25 feet of any operable window, door or ventilation intake.
  • The building is equipped with 62 thermal zones and one thermostat per two employee seating areas. The thermostats allow each employee to change the zone temperature by four degrees from the zone set point, which has been customized per zone users’ requests.

Water Efficiency

  • Native landscaping acclimated to the weather and moisture cycles of the Northern Virginia region requiring irrigation only until they are established and in periods of drought. Irrigation provided by a specialized drip irrigation system for better efficiency.
  • Combination of sensor-based faucet controls, low-flow toilets and showerheads and waterless urinals to gain an estimated 50 percent water reduction over a typical building of the same size and occupancy.

Energy and Atmosphere

  • Motion-responsive lighting control which ensure lights are never accidentally left on.
  • Reduced lighting density of 0.9 W/sf. The main lights in all work areas are fluorescent bulbs surrounded by reflective parabolic fixtures which allow a lower amount of light to spread over a wider area.
  • Over 90 percent of tenant appliances (including computers, monitors, printers and kitchen appliances) are Energy Star rated.
  • HVAC system uses 18 percent less energy than suggested in the ASHRAE 90.1-2004 standard.
  • No CFC-based refrigerants in the HVAC&R systems.
rear entrance to Wetland Studies and Solutions building

Rear exterior view

Materials and Resources

  • 25 percent of locally manufactured materials including concrete block used in some building walls.
  • Contains 16 percent recycled material including wheatboard panels and substrate.
  • Wheatboard replaces standard particleboard throughout the building in desks, cabinets and unpainted decorative panels. Upholstery fabric in all of the building’s systems furniture fabric (cubicle wall panels and seating/storage unit covers) is created from polylactic acid (PLA). PLA is a post-industrial material made when salvaged corn by-products are chemically reduced to a starch-based polymer and woven into textile.
  • It is safe and biodegradable and recyclable at the end of its life cycle. The corn fabric can be composted rather than discarded in a landfill.
  • Post-consumer recycled plastic “sidelight” panels at the entrance to conference rooms, allowing light to filter from exterior windows to the building interior.
  • Metal-shaving countertops (post-industrial recycled product) in the reception area, kitchen, bathrooms and locker rooms.
  • Post-industrial recycled carpet that will be broken down at the end of its useful life and re-formed to create post-consumer carpeting.
  • Kitchen floor is made from linoleum which contains rapidly-renewable cork dust and linseed oil.

Innovation and Design Process

  • Tenant purchased “green energy credits” to offset 100 percent of their power needs for two years. The money generated from the credits pays the difference between coalfired electricity rates and renewable electricity rates, to ensure that the renewable electricity is provided to the regional grid.
  • WSSI has given tours of the building to local regulatory agencies, engineers, developers and citizen groups. WSSI has created and distributed over 1,000 copies of a full-color brochure that outlines the components of economic and environmental sustainability of the facility.
  • WSSI has hired two college interns to set up flow monitoring equipment at all strategic points in the landscape. This equipment will be networked and the data uploaded to a public website. Members of academia, students and other interested parties will be able to freely download the data, which may be used to create robust models of flow through various LID techniques.

Return on Investment Analysis

  • Estimated irrigation water savings of approximately 2,400,000 gallons of water, or $6,100 per year over a conventional building of same size and acreage.
  • Payback of 5.5 years based on conservative energy savings projections.