Government Case Study: Process Driven

By Anne Cosgrove

Published in the February 2009 issue of Today’s Facility Manager

Broad hallways connect the three processing wings. Photo: Jacobs; courtesy of Internal Revenue Service.

The Kansas City, MO campus of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has entered its peak operating season. With about 4,000 people currently working in the facility (about 2,000 of those as seasonal employees for tax processing), the 1.1 million square foot facility is occupied 24 hours a day as workers process a major portion of the nation’s 1040 returns there.

Joseph R. Campfield, CFM, RPA, FMA is director of building operations at the campus, and he makes it a point to prepare for the influx of occupants as the flurry of processing activity begins. “I look for the projects that need to be done in order to provide the optimum performance of the building during the peak season,” he says. “From now through the end of June, [the building operations department] stays out of the way as much as possible.”

While facility management (FM) can be an unpredictable job at times, Campfield addresses the maintenance tasks he can predict. During the summer months, he and his staff perform alarm testing, repair and inspect elevators, change light bulbs, paint when necessary, and do heavy cleaning.

As a result, the busiest time for his operations department is during that non-peak season. FM staff then “spend the following six months trying not to interfere with the IRS activities,” explains Campfield. “We try to be ‘invisible’ during that time.”

Building The Campus

Heading up the daily operation of the IRS Kansas City campus, Campfield has been working at the site since about four months after construction began on the government facility in 2004. His firm, MC Realty Group, LLC, provides FM services to meet the needs of the IRS.

During construction, Campfield was able to familiarize himself with the facility by observing the process, taking photographs, and attending meetings. He also took the opportunity to offer input from his FM perspective. “I was able to interject concerns about the way the facility was being built—whether there were enough water lines put into the mechanical rooms, for instance.

“Some of these things were ‘low hanging fruit,’” Campfield adds. “It didn’t cost a lot to make the change during construction, and the benefit that it would provide was well worth it. [The FM team] was able to suggest a lot of constructive changes.”

The campus was created by connecting an existing post office (built in 1933) with a new 660,000 square foot addition. The six story post office (now the Pershing Building) was extensively renovated to house the administrative offices of IRS employees.

Alterations to the post office included removing the center of the four lower levels in order to create an atrium spanning up six floors; the top two floors of the building were already serving as an atrium space. The campus was slated for (and achieved) LEED Certified for New Construction (NC) designation from the U.S. Green Building Council, and expanding the atrium helped the project team achieve some of the daylighting requirements.

The former post office houses the campus’ year round population. This includes director and management level employees, administrative support personnel, and IT staff members.

Built onto the existing structure were three processing wings dedicated to the business of handling federal tax returns. Known as the Pennway Complex, this part of the IRS campus is not equipment heavy. Still, Campfield says, these spaces were designed with an assembly line layout. “The design of the facility allows the tax returns to enter from the south end,” he explains. “As the materials progress north through [the Pennway Complex], they go through the different stages required.”

Before this campus was built, the IRS was operating out of a number of smaller facilities in the Kansas City area. With process improvements and the desire to increase efficiencies, the government agency began planning in 2000 for a consolidated operation under one roof. Working with the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and Jacobs Facilities, Inc. of Berwyn, PA, the IRS developed a plan for the building configuration that would best serve its mission.

Green Governance

Since LEED certification was set as one goal for the campus the architecture firm, Berkbile Nelson Immenschuh McDowell (BNIM)/360 Architecture of Kansas City, worked with the rest of the project team to incorporate environmentally friendly features on the site and in the facility.

Notable site strategies in pursuing LEED certification included restoring a minimum of 50% of the area not within the building footprint with native plantings, implementing a stormwater management plan that has resulted in a 28% decrease (rate and quantity) in run off from calculated pre-project conditions, and locating a minimum of 50% of the 3,800 on-site parking stalls in an underground garage.

Strategies used for the facility included 65,000 square feet of vegetative roof, along with 550,000 square feet of a LEED compliant cool roof.

Inside, indoor air quality (IAQ) was addressed by specifying adhesives, sealants, paints, carpeting, and composite wood materials that complied with volatile organic compound (VOC) limits set by LEED requirements.


Outside the cafe, with a seating area. Photography by Jacobs; courtesy of Internal Revenue Service.

Campfield and his team maintain the IAQ standards by purchasing products that comply with LEED specifications. Part of this effort is choosing products used in the construction of the facility. However, there are situations where there is no precedent, and the FM team must decipher what products are acceptable.

“We need to watch what our contractors and vendors bring into the facility,” says Campfield. “We talk to the contractors as well as our own maintenance staff to make sure we are using materials and products that meet the requirements under which the facility was designed.

“We have to read and understand what the materials are and what we are bringing into the facility,” he continues. “Normally, I go straight to the MSDS [material safety data sheet] for a product. We will also try to do some Internet shopping, pull up the cut sheets on the material we would like to use, and then go to the MSDS to read the specs.”

Driving Efficiencies

Energy efficiency was a focus of the campus design, and two major systems that Campfield uses to pursue this goal are a Web-based building automation system (BAS) for the entire facility and an underfloor air distribution (UFAD) system, which serves the Pennway Complex.

The BAS is used to control the UFAD system as well as the other HVAC equipment at the campus. Featuring 26,000 control points, the BAS is also tied into a carbon monoxide (CO) monitoring system located in the parking garage.

One system the BAS does not control is lighting. Says Campfield, “We can link into the lighting controls system from our BAS, but it is not controlled through that system.”

Instead, there are two methods of lighting control, explains Campfield. “The basic workspaces were outfitted with motion sensors,” he says. “This has been helpful for churn and space reconfiguration, because if we have a major occupancy change, we can reconfigure how the lighting sensors are connected within the fixtures. We do not have to open walls or redo light switches.”

Exterior of the new Pennway Complex. Photography by Jacobs; courtesy of Internal Revenue Service.
Meanwhile, the processing wings were equipped with a different computer based system to control the high bay lighting (both direct and indirect) in those spaces.

The UFAD system also differentiates the processing wings from the administrative Pershing Building. The GSA specified this type of system for both its flexibility and targeted airflow. Campfield has discovered the benefits of both these qualities.

“Say I have a work group that needs to move its desks 3′ feet in order to improve efficiencies,” he says. “In a standard building, that might literally set 50 people right on top of the registers that were built for the area. With the UFAD system, we can lift up the floor tiles in that area and move the air diffuser below (which is actually a full VAV box) to where we need it in the floor. In a short period of time, we can reconfigure the registers to get the best air distribution for the new furniture configuration.”

Recalling the initial move in 2006, Campfield adds, “As large as this facility is, the design team did a great job with initial configuration. Still, when the furniture was moved in, there were a few furniture/register conflicts. Instead of it being a major issue, the construction team was able to relocate a few registers to fix the conflicts.”

On the energy side, the UFAD system presents more opportunity to increase energy efficiency. “We are able to run higher discharge air temperatures on the system, which by design saves energy,” says Campfield. “For us, the UFAD has been very successful.”

The campus will hover around peak occupancy for the next few months, which means that building services to the processing wings will be in full swing. In terms of energy use, the demand will drop after the middle of year.

“The design of the facility is such that I could isolate and shut down energy consumption in any or all three wings independently,” explains Campfield. “With the UFAD, we can identify the unoccupied zones and put those in a setback to conserve energy that way.”

The vastness of the IRS Kansas City campus challenges the FM team to manage with efficiency in mind. Fortunately, the original design and Campfield’s expertise are keeping those goals in reach.

This article was based on an interview with Campfield.