LAWRENCE, Massachusetts – Massachusetts’ main drinking water laboratory is being expanded and renovated as a state-of-the-art, green building.

The two-year, $22 million expansion and renovation of the Senator William X. Wall Experiment Station in Lawrence is newly redesigned as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, LEED, building.

That means it will meet standards set by the U.S. Green Building Council, which favored Boston with its annual conference and expo earlier this week.

The lab annually performs 10,000 lab analyses of contaminants in water, wastewater, air, soil, hazardous wastes, fish, and other samples. The facility certifies more than 150 commercial and municipal labs for compliance analysis of both potable and non-potable water.

Now the old facility will be expanded. Large windows will allow the Sun’s light and heat to penetrate, and there will be a set-aside for plug-in hybrid vehicle parking spaces.

Photovoltaic cells will provide a solar energy source, and a super-efficient heating, ventilating, and air conditioning system will be installed to save up to 40 percent on heating and cooling costs

A green roof and rain gardens will be installed for better management of stormwater, and the facility will include rain water recycling for non-potable uses and irrigation.

The Experiment Station was founded in 1887 as one of the first laboratories in the world dedicated to environmental research, and 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 historic building at 37 Shattuck Street as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.

Today it is operated by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, MassDEP.

“I’m thrilled that this Lawrence facility has been certified as a LEED green building,” said Lawrence Mayor Michael Sullivan. “So much environmental work is done at the William X. Wall Experimental Station, and it is only fitting that this building has become so energy efficient.”

Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Ian Bowles said the renovation will demonstrate “what can be done with energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water management.”

The groundbreaking ceremony took place on November 16. The first phase of the project involves a $16 million facility expansion, utilizing funds approved by the Massachusetts Legislature.

Additional funding is being provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through the State Drinking Water Revolving Fund. The second phase – to be funded through the Environmental Bond Bill – will involve a $6 million renovation of the existing lab.

“We applaud MassDEP’s continuing commitment to the scientific infrastructure that makes possible the studies, monitoring, and investigations so vital to addressing the emerging environmental challenges of the 21st century,” said Robert Varney, administrator of EPA’s New England Regional Office.

“This state-of-the-art laboratory will allow scientists to obtain reliable data that addresses the full range of emerging contaminants at very low concentrations, thereby providing key risk information,” said Varney.

“Investment in this laboratory clearly shows that Massachusetts recognizes the importance of sound science underlying our environmental policies and decisions,” said Varney.

MassDEP, the Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management and the architectural design team of Perkins+Will planned the project. O’Connor Constructors is the project’s construction manager.

In 1993, following his sudden death, the laboratory was named in honor of former Senator William X. Wall, who represented Lawrence in the State Legislature for 40 years. He had filed the bill that resulted in construction of the current station building in 1954.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2007. All rights reserved.