The first U.S. Passport Office to open outside of the mainland United States meets strict environmental standards that help reduce its carbon footprint and also create a healthier work environment. The new Passport Office in San Juan, Puerto Rico, which opened earlier this year, is located in the Roberto Sanchez Vilella Government (Minillas) Center in San Juan. The environmental standards consider conservation of water and energy, lowering of operating costs, minimizing waste, and more. In addition, the fact that the new office was located in an already developed area with close proximity to transportation options and a variety of amenities was also taken into consideration. The office’s 7,088 rentable square foot space was designed by the architects of Alvarez-Diaz & Villalon of San Juan for lease to the U.S. Department of State.
Among some of the specific environmentally-friendly special features that helped this new facility achieve energy efficiency:
- High efficiency lighting and controls, including dimmers, daylight sensors, task lighting, occupancy sensors and electrical power management to help save energy while maintaining proper lighting conditions.
- A central building HVAC system with a direct digital control Building Management System to control and manage the air conditioning, along with carbon dioxide sensors that monitor the indoor air quality and modulate outside air.
- Low flow plumbing fixtures such as electronic proximity metering faucets allowed for over 45% potable water use reduction.
- Low VOC (volatile organic compounds) emitting materials for furniture, flooring systems, paints, adhesives, etc. In addition, furniture and many materials have high percentage recycled content.
Finally, the building has also implemented a Green Cleaning Policy, which requires custodial staff to use only environmentally safe cleaning products and equipment. This will reduce the exposure of building workers to potentially hazardous products that might also adversely affect the indoor environment.
This U.S. Passport Office in San Juan now makes it possible for the citizens of Puerto Rico to obtain or renew a passport in a relatively short period of time without the need to travel to nearest mainland U.S. Passport Office, which is in Miami, Fla. It also supplements the existing local Department of State offices that will continue to process routine passport applications.