Your Stimulus Dollars at Work: Hipolito F. Garcia Federal Building

Hipolito F. Garcia Building during renovation (Photo:

A green roof is the centerpiece of the renovated 75-year-old Hipolito F. Garcia Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in San Antonio, part of what makes it the “greenest” building owned by GSA. It is the first GSA-owned building to earn LEED-Platinum certification, thanks to a $56.6 million renovation funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). The renovation was completed last summer (June 2012).

The 230,265-square-foot building is located at 615 East Houston Street in San Antonio’s central business district, near the Alamo. Completed in 1936 as part of the federal Public Works Administration program and officially opened the following year, the structure—which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000—is a six-story, neoclassical, Beaux-Arts style polygon centered around a large light well that originally allowed air to circulate through the building and light to reach the lower floors. The building encompasses an entire city block and is constructed of steel and concrete clad in pink granite and cream limestone from Texas. Its lobby features a 16-panel, 750-square-foot fresco mural titled “San Antonio’s Importance in Texas History” that is regarded as one of the showpieces of the federal mural program. Originally known as the U.S. Post Office and Courthouse, the building was renamed after the late Federal District Court Judge Hipolito Garcia, a San Antonio native, in 2004.

GSA has consolidated several federal operations into the renovated structure, including all local offices of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which moved into the building in May. It also houses two bankruptcy courts, one tax court, a post office, and offices of the Small Business Administration, the National Labor Relations Board and the U.S. Department of Labor.

The building’s new roof features photovoltaic solar panels as well as a mix of native and adaptive grasses and sedum, planted in six inches of engineered soil and irrigated in part by water condensed from the structure’s air conditioning units. The planted roof helps insulate the building, keeping it cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Other features that contributed to the LEED-Platinum certification include a new HVAC system, a gray water collection system, a solar water heater, heat-deflecting windows, and lights that turn themselves off in empty rooms and dim when daylight is present. The building now is nearly 40% more energy efficient; GSA expects to save more than $87,000 annually on energy use.

Want to learn more about GSA’s stimulus spending projects? Click our “Stimulus” link in the column to the right or visit GSA’s interactive map showing all of the projects on which it is spending its $5.5 billion in ARRA funds.

Hipolito F. Garcia Building green roof installation (photo: Live Roof LLC). To see a time lapse video of the installation, click the “green roof” hyperlink in our blog article above.