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Energy efficiency is focal point of proposed Capitol complex office building


Construction of the Iowa Utilities Board’s (IUB) and the Office of the Consumer Advocate’s (OCA) new office building in the Capitol complex is expected to begin this summer, said Chuck Seel, an IUB spokesman.

The proposed 44,000-square-foot facility, located on a six-acre site on the southwest corner of East 14th Street and Court Avenue, is pursuing Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) platinum certification.

The project’s architect, BNIM Architects, estimates that compared with a typical office building, features such as geothermal heating and cooling, a daylight-harvesting sunscreen and photovoltaic solar panels will reduce the building’s energy expenses by 62 percent and garner an Energy Star rating of 95 out of 100.

“From the day that we became familiar with this project, the goal has been to make it an example of a cost-effective, highly energy-efficient building,” said Rod Kruse, BNIM’s principal architect.

By state law, the two agencies are required to be housed in the same location, a fact carefully considered by the architect when designing the space, which will house more than 90 employees.

“While they need to work together, they have autonomy in the space and privacy because sometimes they’re on the opposite side of the table in terms of hearings,” Kruse said, adding that the IUB will occupy the north wing of the building, and the upper level of the south wing will house the OCA. The south wing’s lower level will include a shared board room and conferencing center.

In addition to reducing energy costs, the building’s sustainable design promotes “human health and productivity,” Kruse said, pointing to features such as an abundance of natural light and operable windows. Within the first year of occupancy of a LEED platinum certified building that BNIM designed for Missouri’s Department of Natural Resources several years ago, for example, absenteeism was reduced by 7 or 8 percent, he said.

“Iowa is a leader in both energy technology and efficiency,” said Gov. Chet Culver in a release. “The new IUB and OCA building is a prime example of the state’s commitment to the development of facilities that are energy-efficient.”

Seel said state officials will meet tomorrow with Janesville, Wis.-based J.P. Cullen & Sons Inc., the tentative contractor and apparent lowest bidder on the $9.8 million project, to discuss the contract and construction details.

Funded though the issuance of special obligation bonds, the building is expected to be ready for occupancy in late 2010 or early 2011.

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