Jackson Courthouse Project Receives Prestigious Award
May 16, 2013
The United States Federal Courthouse, Jackson, MS received the coveted 2012 Region 4 Phoenix Award at the 15th National Brownfields Conference, sponsored by the U.S. EPA. The award recognizes exemplary brownfields redevelopment and revitalization efforts throughout the country. Laura Shadix, GSA Project Manager accepted the award at the May 16th ceremony.
The National Brownfields Conference is the largest event in the nation focusing on environmental revitalization and economic redevelopment. The Phoenix Awards honors the innovative leadership in addressing critical environmental problems of transforming abandoned property into productive sites for new economic and community development.
The Jackson Courthouse, completed in 2010, sits on a previously abandoned, 5.21 acre site that was comprised of six severely underutilized commercial buildings, a county parking area, and a vacant lot. Through the efforts of the project team, a site with significant soil contamination was transformed into a viable public building providing significant long-term benefits to the local community.
The Courthouse’s design and construction incorporates numerous sustainable technologies and practices. Seventy-five percent of the construction waste was diverted from landfill disposal with a significant reuse of building materials at the site. The consumption of portable water was kept at a minimum while maximizing the use of recycled content products. The project is seeking LEED Silver Certification.
The project serves as a study in partnership and collaboration. GSA joined the Mississippi’s Voluntary Evaluation Program (VEP) in 2002-2003 to address environmental issues that would impact the project. Contamination related issues from site assessment studies were integrated into subsequent phases of design and construction. Officials representing the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MSDEQ), design and construction firms, environmental consultants, and GSA met on numerous occasions to identify effective techniques for dealing with various types of soil contamination. GSA conducted environmental site assessments and subsequent remedial investigation and characterization that identified thirteen Areas of Contaminants (AOCs). Approximately 19,000 tons of contaminated soil were removed and disposed of in a permitted municipal solid waste landfill. Two Vehicle Maintenance Facilities, one on each block, eastern and western, were the major contributors of contamination in the soil. They were present prior to the purchase of the property and revealed while conducting the Phase I Environmental Assessment.
The remediation strategies/activities included a combination of excavation and disposal of contaminated soil and engineering and institutional control. The strategy included classifying contaminated soils into three categories depending on circumstances, i.e. soils that were beneath the foundation of the Courthouse (Category 1), soils that were at depths less than 6 feet below the finished grade but not beneath the foundation of the Courthouse (Category 2), and soils that were greater than 6 feet and not beneath the foundation of the Courthouse (Category 3). Category 1 soils were left in place and managed with a combination of engineering and institution control.
Perhaps the project’s greatest challenge was developing the most cost effective strategy to deal with contamination directly beneath the foundation and deciding which type of foundation (Mat vs. Pile foundation) should be developed. Good relationships with MSDEQ and the design and engineering firms facilitated teamwork in addressing the challenges and developing strategies.
The project has also served as a catalyst for growth and future development in City’s southern Central Business District (CBD) and surrounding areas. A once abandoned and contaminated site has been returned to life, providing opportunities for small businesses and adjacent property owners. The increased property values and renewed business activities provide such needed revenue to the City
Construction of the new Courthouse set the stage for the sale of the former Eastland Courthouse to a private entity. Plans call for its future reuse as a school of fine arts. In the interim, the property will be home to office space, art galleries, restaurants and bars. This wave of commercial development will generate new revenues for the City, fostering renewed economic growth in the area.
Visit our Photo Gallery for more Before & After Pictures of the United States Federal Courthouse, Jackson, MS.