Federal Center South

As an integral part of the design/build team, WSP USA completed the mechanical and plumbing engineering, technology design, and lighting design for this new office building on the Federal Center South campus in Seattle for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Seattle District.


  • Seattle, Washington, USA


  • General Services Administration

Project Status

  • Completed in 2012


  • AIA COTE Top Ten Award
  • AIA COTE Top Ten Plus
  • ASHRAE First Place Technology Award
  • DBIA National Design Award, Office Building Category


The new, 209,000 square foot USACE office consists of three floors open to a central atrium. As required by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) legislation, the facility was designed to be a high performing green building (HPGB) and meets the current federal energy goals. Siting, orientation, building form and massing, material selection, and construction are all structured to provide the most ideal workplace environment and breathe new life into the historic campus.

Below ASHRAE Benchmarks
40% 40%
Energy Star Rating
100 100
kBTUh/SF/year EUI
20.3 20.3

Meeting Lofty Goals

The project goal was to meet LEED-NC Gold rating requirements (LEED Platinum was achieved) and an Energy Use Index (EUI) of 20.3 kBtuh/SF/year. Reaching these goals allowed the building to meet the 2030 Challenge’s energy and carbon reduction requirements, as well as obtain an ENERGY STAR rating of 100 and come in 40% below 2007 ASHRAE benchmarks.

The LEED Platinum building includes an integrated design approach that focuses on energy conservation measures in order to meet the project energy use goals rather than expensive on-site energy generation strategies.  The floor depth and façade design were optimized to reduce heating and cooling requirements along with extensive daylighting.  Several innovative technologies implemented into the design to meet the project goals include:  chilled beams, thermal storage using phase change material and 100% outside air delivery through a raised floor system with heat recovery.

High Performer

The project integrates a number of high performance features. A rainwater re-use system captures water from the roof and stores it in a 25,000 gallon cistern for toilet flushing, irrigation, rooftop cooling tower and water fixtures in the atrium. Optimizations to the floor depth and façade design enables extensive daylighting, with 90% of the building naturally lit. Thermal storage tanks with phase change materials store cooling energy for future use, and geothermal heating and cooling was combined with the structural piles – one of the first projects in the region to combine both systems. Additionally, ventilation air is provided by five rooftop air handling units with heat recovery and distributed via an underfloor air system. Together, these high performance features help Federal Center South perform in the top 1% of office buildings in the country in terms of energy performance.  

Lighting Design

The lighting systems were designed to support the ambitious energy use goals with an overall lighting power density of .7w/sf and highly fine-tuned daylight harvesting system. The lighting design also provides an even, indirect illuminated environment while highlighting architectural elements. The project includes integration of site lighting into the existing facility while addressing security concerns.

Careful placement of lighting elements at the main security gate and along the entry drive ensure even illumination while preserving low light trespass onto adjacent properties.