LAWRENCE – The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) today celebrated the opening of the newly expanded and renovated Senator William X. Wall Experiment Station in Lawrence, following a $30 million upgrade that transformed the old state environmental laboratory into a state-of-the-art “green” building.
The old facility was built in 1954 and was inadequate to handle the complex testing protocols required by today’s environmental science. The new facility is designed as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building, as MassDEP is seeking the top sustainability designation – LEED platinum.
The green upgrades include: a 52.5kW solar photo-voltaic system for on-site renewable energy production; use of the existing site as a Brownfield redevelopment, while maximizing open space; use of rain gardens and detention basins for improved environmental management of storm water; water-efficient landscaping; a high-performance roof and smaller green roof to reduce the heat-island effect; a rain-water reclamation system for reuse to flush toilets and operate the cooling tower; water-efficient plumbing system with 40 percent water savings; optimized energy performance with 21 percent reduction in energy use over the LEED building baseline and estimated savings of more than $50,000; windows that allow daylight to 75 percent of the space; and plug-in charging stations for two electric vehicles.
“Governor Patrick has challenged state agencies to lead by example, and this state-of-the-art laboratory meets that challenge with its cutting-edge energy efficiency, renewable energy and water management upgrades,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Undersecretary Philip Griffiths, who attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “This model facility will keep the Commonwealth out front with its environmental innovations.”
The Wall Experiment Station is Massachusetts’ principal drinking water laboratory, and the facility annually performs 15,000 lab analyses of contaminants in water, wastewater, air, soil, hazardous wastes, fish and other samples. The facility also certifies more than 126 commercial and municipal labs for compliance analysis of both potable and non-potable water.
“The Wall Experiment Station has a long history of excellence in the protection of public health and the environment, but the old facility had become inadequate to support today’s complex environmental protection mission,” said MassDEP Commissioner Kenneth L. Kimmell. “This new laboratory will allow MassDEP to test for an expanding suite of chemicals and emerging contaminants, and serve as a critical link in the Commonwealth’s disaster preparedness efforts.”
The four-year, two-phase project renovated the historic 22,000-square-foot facility, located at 37 Shattuck Street, and expanded the lab by an additional 13,000 square feet. During the entire construction period, the laboratory continued to operate at full capacity, occupying first a small section of the old building and later moving into the finished new lab wing while the rest of the old building was fully renovated. MassDEP, the Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management (DCAM), and the design team of the architectural firm, Perkins+Will, and RDK Engineers planned the project. O’Connor Constructors, Inc. was the project’s construction manager.
“The Department of Capital Asset Management is pleased and proud to be a partner with MassDEP, our design and construction teams and many architects who worked on the impressive expansion and renovation of the Senator William X. Wall Experiment Station,” said DCAM Commissioner Carol Cornelison. “The energy efficiency and water management upgrades used in the construction of this new laboratory are in keeping with the Patrick-Murray Administration’s efforts to build cutting-edge, energy-efficient buildings to provide significant cost savings to the Commonwealth.”
“The state-of-the-art renovation and expansion of the Wall Experiment Station reflects MassDEP’s commitment to the fundamental role of science in driving environmental decisions and policy. EPA is particularly excited to continue its partnership with MassDEP’s laboratory in the areas of drinking water, air monitoring, and emergency response,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of the U.S. EPA’s New England office. “MassDEP should feel very proud of its long tradition of using scientific data to restore the health of the Commonwealth’s ecosystems.”
The expanded Wall facility also now houses the state occupational safety laboratory, a unit of the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards.
The Lawrence Experiment Station was founded in 1887 by the Massachusetts State Board of Health as one of the first laboratories in the world dedicated to environmental research. The work conducted there laid the foundation for modern methods of wastewater treatment and drinking water purification used throughout the world. In 1975, the American Society of Civil Engineers designated the facility as a “National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.”
In 1993, the laboratory was named in honor of former state Senator William X. Wall, who represented Lawrence in the Legislature for 40 years. He had filed the bill that resulted in the construction of the 22,000-square-foot Station, which was occupied in 1954. Members of Sen. Wall’s family attended today’s ribbon-cutting ceremony.
LEED is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high-performance green buildings. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality.
MassDEP is responsible for ensuring clean air and water, safe management and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes, timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills, and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources.