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A Real Crime
I had jury duty last week – we found the defendant guilty – but the courthouse got off scot-free and that’s a real crime.
The H. Carl Moultrie Courthouse in the District of Columbia was built in the 1970s and I can testify, it’s a lousy place to spend four days. I really haven’t any idea whether the building is energy or water efficient – I doubt it – but I am certain that little attention has been paid to the quality of the occupant experience.
To its credit the building’s core is sky lit but other areas are dark with little access to daylight. The courtroom was pleasant enough but the jury room was dreadful. Both were way too cold – this is in DC in July – with no apparent occupant controls other than the sweaters and socks we learned to bring each day. Many of my fellow jurors complained about the air quality.
Photo credit: Steven Naoya Miyamoto
Important work takes place in courthouses and thankfully, some of our most recent are beautifully and sustainably designed. The Public Building Service of GSA is responsible for the construction of new courthouses and the modernization of existing ones. The Wayne L. Morse Courthouse in Eugene, OR, pictured here, achieved LEED Gold. It has, among other features, underfloor air distribution, a thermal comfort monitoring system installed for relative humidity and temperature and indoor air quality controls.
Too bad I didn’t have jury duty in Eugene.
Older buildings, even those built in the 70s, are redeemable. Sad to say, the Moultrie Courthouse has undergone recent and, in my view inadequate, renovations. Those of us responsible for the design, construction and renovation of buildings need to take our work very seriously. The defendant in my case obviously had a bad week. There’s no reason the jury – and the staff who work there daily – had to as well.