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Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center

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Gundersen and K.O. Emory Wings; 
A U.S. Geological Survey Sustainable Design and High Performance Building Project

Click on figures for larger images
USGS Facilities Manager, Twig Nichols
Figure 1. USGS Facilities Manager, David "Twig" Nichols
Celestory windows on nice day switch, rain censored
Figure 2. Clearstory windows with the Nice Day Switch and Rain Sensors.
Gundersen Wing lobby
Figure 3. Gundersen Wing lobby
Aprica solar array
Figure 4. Aprica solar array
Linda Gundersen
Figure 5. Linda Gundersen
Side entrance to Tilley Conference Room
Figure 6. side entrance to the Tilley Conference Room

Due to programmatic growth, Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center (WHCMSC), management identified the need to increase the size of one laboratory building on the campus by 44 percent, and determined that the best way to achieve the EPAct 2005 energy reduction mandates for new construction was to apply sustainable design principles.  Furthermore, U.S.Geological Survey (USGS) WHCMSC Facilities Manager, David, "Twig" Nichols, applied for and received a $15,000 technical assistance grant from the Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) to identify the technologies and principles that would be life-cycle cost effective for the new building design.

The new space modernized the existing buildings and facilities, relieved present overcrowding, and provided economical and efficient storage solutions for frozen sediment samples that were archived in extremely costly “outside” portable containers that required separate refrigeration/freezer units.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Marine Science Center's Gundersen / K.O. Emery Wing, located in Woods Hole, MA, is a newly constructed facility that

  1. provides additional office space for core USGS scientific staff;
  2. attracts and houses additional USGS and non-USGS collaborators so that they can, in concert, address key coastal and marine scientific problems;
  3. has modern infrastructure to support cutting edge public marine science;
  4. consolidates outdated and extremely expensive sediment storage, and provides for more economical and expandable storage for both geochemical and administrative archiving;
  5. provides multiple conference areas to accommodate simultaneous meeting agendas.

A sustainable construction project, completed in December 2007, added approximately 4,400 square feet to an existing building which consists of office space, conference area, and geochemical/administrative storage archiving areas. The project created seven new office spaces, two conference areas, and an additional flexi-office space for four work stations plus a commons area. The facility was designed and constructed utilizing multiple renewable technologies and greening initiatives that

  1. generate thermal energy utilizing passive solar technology;
  2. utilize active solar technology comprised of (300) individual evacuated solar tubes mounted in (10) roof-top solar array panels that circulate hot water to radiant floor zones throughout all spaces
  3. protect human health and well being using construction materials with low VOC’s, high recycled content for all interior floor coverings and counters;
  4. have state-of-the-art occupancy sensors and controls for HVAC and lighting.  The new space also incorporates a 2,200 sq. ft. environmentally efficient work area for the storage of refrigerated and frozen sediment samples, and an area for general administrative filing and archiving.


Energy conservation measures installed in this addition include:

The sustainable and renewable energy construction methods utilized for this project modernizes the current 30 year old buildings and facilities, relieves overcrowding, and provides economical and efficient storage solutions for frozen sediment samples. The elimination of the need of additional outside freezers reduces the site’s energy consumption by 1,888 MWh per year and yields a cost savings of $20,000 a year.  This is equivalent to the average annual electricity consumption of close to 200 homes. 

The K.O. Emery Geotechnical Wing is a geotechnical facility where internal pre-fabricated industrial freezer and refrigerator units store and archive frozen and refrigerated sediment samples collected from around the world.  These industrial units are housed in a 65f stabilized internal work-space within the confines of the K.O. Emery Wing which allows the dedicated rooftop units to work extremely efficiently due to the stabilized environment.  The physical components of this facility incorporate radiant floor heating, 10” thick concrete walls, 10” thick concrete ceiling panels, and a vegetated roofing system planted with low bush blueberry and no-mow grasses. These greening and renewable initiatives contribute to the environment by reducing rain-water runoff and carbon emissions, producing food for wildlife, and helping reduce the effects of global warming by reflecting less heat back into the environment. The facility was also partially constructed into the sub-terrain which provides an added measure of thermal protection and internal space stabilization which allows for more efficient HVAC control.

The cost premium of these energy conservation measures was valued at $37,252 of a $708,000 building project. These energy conservation measures will save 380.93 million Btu /year at an annual cost savings of $4,293. Simple payback of the initial investment for all the renewable and greening initiatives is approximated at ten (10) years.

The exterior of the building has "light shelves" which diffuse direct sunlight, reducing cooling co sts in the summer months.  They  also spread natural light throughout the internal office and common spaces making for a natural and environmentally friendly work-space which has been proven through study to boost productivity, and also reduces energy costs due to less need for internal lighting.   Automatically controlled windows open on command from a “Nice Day Switch” which shuts down HVAC controls saving energy costs. Rain sensors built into the complex control system automatically close the windows when moisture is sensed and the normal HVAC cycle is initiated. 

The new facility’s impact on the natural environment was minimized through sustainable strategies such as a vegetated roof, native landscaping, low light pollution, and a rain garden.  In addition, human health and well being was ensured through the use of materials that have low or no emissions or toxins, natural ventilation and lighting, and an increased connection with the outdoor surroundings. 

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This page last modified on Monday, 02-May-2011 08:32:46 EDT