Design Challenge

Concerns regarding indoor air quality issues caused the State of Vermont to renovate its courthouse and office building. In this renovation, the state sought to create the healthiest building in their portfolio. Maclay Architects team was selected for this challenging assignment based on their reputation as leaders in healthy building design. In addition to the highest level of indoor air quality, the state wanted the new building to be a model of high-performance and energy-efficiency, while providing safe, state-of the art courtrooms and offices.


Maximizing court functionality and safety in the renovated and expanded building required a major change in the design strategy originally envisioned by the state. Maclay Architects demonstrated that an improved layout could be accomplished while reducing above-ground building surface area by 31%. In turn, this modification lowered energy consumption by 39% compared to a code building, with no increase in the overall construction cost, thus an infinite return on investment for the state.

Through Maclay Architects’ proven energy and financial methodology, the team demonstrated savings for taxpayers of $1.2 million over 20 years with a 13% ROI, as compared with a code-compliant building. On a square-foot basis, the additional costs of building net zero ready versus to code-compliant standards was only $5.70/sf. The project was completed for $1.4 million under the original budget, demonstrating the net zero ready design can be accomplished within tight state budgets.

The energy-saving systems include a ground source heating and cooling system, solar hot water, triple glazed windows and greatly increased insulation values. Occupancy sensors, daylight harvesting controls, window sensors and high-efficiency fixtures further reduced energy consumption.


This building will save Vermont tax-payers $750,000 in energy costs over a code-compliant. It is the first LEED Gold state office building in Vermont. As the best energy performing state office building, this project has influenced all state projects built since its construction, contributing to improved design, construction, testing, commissioning, and envelope and air-filtration design protocols.
By sharing the financial energy performance and assessment methodology with the state, other clients and building professionals, in articles and at conferences, this building has had a broad impact in and beyond Vermont.

Project Details


Bennington, VT




65,000 sf


Near Net Zero 
First LEED Gold State Office Building

Energy Intensity:

Existing: 110 kBTU/sf-yr actual)
Renovation/Addition: 26 kBTU/sf-yr (actual)
0 kBTU/sf-yr (modeled w/renewables)

Air Infiltration:

0.11 cfm50/sf

Solar PV Array Size:

150 kW onsite
400 kW offsite


2014 Vermont’s Greenest Building, Vermont Green Building Network
Efficiency Vermont Merit Award 2017

Cost To Achieve Net-Zero Ready:

$372,000 ($5.70/Sf or 3 of the construction cost)

Energy Savings:

79% over Pre-Existing facility, 40% over Code-Compliant facility