Design Challenge

In 2001, then Governor Howard Dean established design goals for the renovation and addition to an existing historic building into education and state office use. These goals were to design a model of energy conservation and health. Built as an auto dealership and garage in 1921, the building was constructed with brick, concrete, steel and wood. 80 years of neglect, and deferred maintenance, led to mold and indoor air quality issues.


Purchased by the State in 1998, a building program was developed to renovate the entire structure in order to house two major tenants: The Community College of Vermont and the Vermont State Department of Health. The program included shared common spaces including, meeting areas, showers, toilets, trash and recycling areas. The construction program utilized phased construction so that tenant occupation could be maximized throughout the construction of the renovated building.


The multi-tenant building uses on-site geothermal fed well water for heat pumps powering the mechanical system. A high performing exterior envelope was built for high levels of energy conservation while allowing water vapor migration to accommodate the long-term moisture permeability requirements for existing structural brick walls. Careful restoration of masonry exterior and installation of high-performance windows respected the historic character of the building while improving user comfort and providing energy savings. Numerous skylights and light guiding blinds were installed for daylighting. Lighting and mechanical systems controls further reduce energy consumption. Indoor air-quality and long term maintenance issues were addressed by careful envelope detailing and mechanical systems design. The completed building serves as a model example for renovating a cherished downtown historic brick structure into a state of the art high performance adaptive reuse. This project demonstrated that old buildings can be renovated to match or exceed new buildings in user needs, energy performance and environmental performance while maintaining their historic structure.

Project Details


Bennington, VT




22,775 sf
45% new construction

Energy intensity

40 kBTU/sf-yr