U.S. Treasury Building Gets LEED Certification, Oldest Building To Do So

The U.S. Treasury Building dates back to the 19th century and is located right next door to the White House -- not exactly what you think of when you think of the latest in green building. But the times they are a changin', as per the Obama administration's focus on greening government operations, and the U.S. Treasury Building has now taken LEED Gold in the Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance category, making it the oldest building in the world to achieve this distinction, according to the U.S. Green Building Council.

Green features of the all-new-and-improved Treasury Building include its increased use of natural day lighting; sustainable cleaning and landscape maintenance programs; advanced controls and management of its heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system; comprehensive recycling and material conservation programs; green procurement program for materials, equipment and services purchased; increased occupant space utilization; new emphasis on and facilitation of alternative transportation for employees; and enhanced utility metering for improved systems management.

All told, the Department of the Treasury says these green improvements and upgrades are saving taxpayers an estimated $3.5 million in energy and lease costs on an annual basis, via a 43 percent decrease in the use of potable water, a 7 percent decrease in electrical usage, a 53 percent decrease in the use of steam (for heat), and the addition of 164 additional workstations within the building. (By getting more work done within the building, the Treasury Building makes better use of the money it spends on utility bills.)

The U.S. Treasury Building is more than two city blocks long and was constructed over a period of 33 years, between 1836 and 1869. The east and center wings of the building (the oldest portion of the structure) were designed by Robert Mills, the architect behind the Washington Monument, and were built between 1836 to 1842. The Treasury is the third-oldest federal building in Washington, D.C., after the White House and the U.S. Capitol.