Gov. Jack Markell joined Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary David Small, DNREC staff and project partners Jan. 4 to announce that DNREC's downtown Dover campus, the Richardson and Robbins Building, has earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification in the category of Existing Buildings: Operation and Maintenance from the U.S. Green Building Council.
LEED certification is a globally recognized benchmark for environmental sustainability. Beginning in 2009, DNREC staff and partners implemented a series of energy efficiency and sustainability projects which, among other benefits, resulted in a 40 percent reduction in energy use and a 24 percent reduction in water use in the building, bringing significant savings to the state's utility costs.
"My Executive Order 18 asked state agencies to lead by example toward a clean energy economy and increased sustainability for Delaware, including goals for reducing energy use, increasing recycling, promoting clean transportation and saving money while benefiting the environment," said Markell. "The announcement of LEED certification of the Richardson and Robbins Building epitomizes the type of results we aimed to achieve in this process, and I applaud the hard work and commitment to environmental stewardship by the DNREC staff involved in this effort."
"LEED certification for existing buildings in operations and maintenance is based on a rating system that holds facilities to the highest standards of sustainability. Earning this certification is a prestigious achievement that recognizes sustainability in every aspect of a building, its systems and its employee activities," said Small. "It's a testament to the perseverance and dedication of our staff and to the benefits of forging partnerships with other agencies and organizations that we are here today to celebrate the success of this low-cost, high-return project."
Inspired by Executive Order 18 and building on the earlier energy efficiency upgrades made to R&R, DNREC's LEED team formed in 2011 with the goal of walking the walk on sustainability and reducing environmental impacts, said LEED Team Manager Bahareh van Boekhold. She said, "The result was a triumph of interdepartmental teamwork and coordination." Staff from seven DNREC divisions joined forces with staff from the Office of Management and Budget's Division of Facilities Management and Government Support Services, working with partners including LEED consultant Lorax LLC, energy upgrade contractor Ameresco, and state vendors and service providers including Goodwill, the state's janitorial contractor.
"Richardson and Robbins is the first state-owned building and one of only three buildings in Delaware to achieve this specific LEED certification – an especially significant achievement for a building constructed as a cannery in 1881 that was modernized into a state office more than 30 years ago," said van Boekhold. "Our DNREC staff and the Office of Management and Budget formed a strong and continuing relationship while working collaboratively and persistently with our partners for nearly five years to establish cutting-edge 21st century sustainable processes that will continue to improve operations even after certification."
Project achievements include:
- Lower energy and water usage, resulting in utilities cost savings
- Sustainable purchasing and waste management practices
- Green no-irrigation landscaping with native species and restored habitat
- Integrated pest management and green cleaning practices
- Lower-impact employee commuting supported by preferred parking for "green" cars and carpool vehicles
- Improved work environment inside the R&R Building for the health and comfort of employees through indoor air quality monitoring and reduced exposure to hazardous chemicals.
"Most importantly, the LEED Team has demonstrated that by working together on a common goal and finding creative solutions, state buildings can be operated in a sustainable and healthy way, while saving the state money," said Susan Love, Climate and Sustainability Section lead, Division of Energy and Climate. "This project and its LEED certification 'greens' the way for other state-owned buildings to operate more sustainably and efficiently, providing a template for other state buildings to achieve similar savings and improvements."
The Richardson and Robbins Building was built in 1881 by food-canning pioneers Alden B. Richardson and James Washington Robbins to house their Dover canning operation, which produced a popular line of products including canned meats, locally grown fancy fruits and vegetables, and their award-winning plum pudding. In 1959, the company and its cannery complex were sold to the William Underwood Co., which continued to make some of R and R's products. The landmark Dover cannery was closed by Underwood in 1976.
In 1979, the same year the State of Delaware purchased the empty cannery complex, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Victorian Dover Historic District. The abandoned complex was extensively renovated, while retaining its tall arched windows, ornate exterior brickwork and massive, rough-hewn exposed ceiling beams. It was dedicated as the new main office of Delaware's Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control in April 1983.