The design of this federal building in Lakewood touted as a solution to climate change

By: - April 14, 2022 5:00 am

From left, White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, Lakewood Mayor Adam Paul, Rep. Ed Perlmutter, GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan and Gov. Jared Polis hear plans for a modernized building on the Denver Federal Center campus in Lakewood from chief architect Jason Sielcken on April 13, 2022. (Sara Wilson/Colorado Newsline)

Federal leaders hope that a modernization effort on the Denver Federal Center campus will become a model on how to create sustainable, low-emission workplace buildings across the country.

“It shows how we can turn climate change, which is a Code Red, into opportunities, which is a Code Green,” White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy said during a visit to the DFC campus. “The more that we can show and demonstrate that climate change can be solved today by the innovations already (in place) today … the more that people will begin to demand the solutions that will benefit them.”

McCarthy took part in a tour of the DFC campus in Lakewood on Wednesday morning with Administrator of the General Services Administration Robin Carnahan, Gov. Jared Polis, Rep. Ed Perlmutter and Lakewood Mayor Adam Paul.

They got a closer look at progress of the modernization of Building 48, which was once a World War II munitions plant and will become a new business center for the Interior Department.


The project should be complete by September 2023 and is on track to meet its approximately $55 million budget. It will bring 800 employees, who are currently spread out across three locations, into a single, federally-owned building constructed on environmentally sustainable principles. That consolidation alone will save $6 million per year.

The building is designed for net-zero energy and net-zero carbon emissions, which will allow it to be operated completely by renewable energy. Carnahan estimates energy cost savings to be at approximately $45 million so far and expects the number to grow.

“It’s just incredible,” Perlmutter said following the tour. “It is part of what I know is the Biden administration’s desire to make sure that we have good jobs, we improve and make better the climate, and we are competitive, both as a federal government looking for great workers but also competitive with the rest of the world.”

The GSA controls one of the largest real estate portfolios in the country and a vehicle fleet of approximately 500,000 vehicles, according to Carnahan. There are spots in those holdings to implement practices that are better for the environment, whether it is building energy efficient spaces or swapping out traditional cars for electric-powered vehicles.

“We’re looking for opportunities like this, to leverage the government’s scale and buying power to show what is possible and accelerate the efforts across the board,” Carnahan said. “We can use the government’s buying power in smart ways that also help the environment.”

As funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law heads to city and state governments, Carnahan said she hopes the work being done on the DFC campus can become demonstration projects for other communities.

Polis touted the state’s own efforts to tackle climate change and improve air quality. Investments to deploy electric school buses, for example, will reduce emissions and fuel costs, Polis said.

“We’re very excited to help connect the dots on why these policies are so important to save people money,” Polis said.

“We’re excited to continue to partner with GSA and with the White House on this important work, including on this great vision for federal facilities across Colorado to achieve true, 100% clean energy.”


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Sara Wilson
Sara Wilson

Sara Wilson covers state government, Colorado's congressional delegation, energy and other stories for Newsline. She formerly was a reporter for The Pueblo Chieftain, where she covered politics and government in southern Colorado. Wilson earned a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University, and as a student she reported on Congress and other federal beats in Washington, D.C.