The City of Austin South Austin Transfer Station is a facility that receives recycled waste material, collected through the City’s recyclable materials program, and transfers it to trucks for transport to various production destinations. The facility contains indoor waste transfer facilities, using tractors and transport trucks, as well as administration offices and a cafeteria.


The City of Austin hired Goodwin Engineering to investigate complaints of sick building syndrome in the administration portion of the building. Our investigation revealed fundamental problems with the exhaust systems and ventilation systems, and we followed with a report outlining our recommendations. The City approved Goodwin to produce an engineering design implementing its recommendations, followed with a construction project to fix the buildings troubled mechanical systems. The project included a complete renovation and relocation of the outdoor air systems in the administration portion of the building and exhaust systems in the vehicular waste transfer portion of the building. In order to facilitate an environmental barrier between the “clean” and “dirty” portions of the building, makeup air for the transfer portion was introduced in a high-pressure air curtain fashion between the transfer and administration portions. As a part of the design, we developed computer models predicting airflow around the building in order to analyze the proximity effects of the vehicular exhaust to the outdoor air intakes for the offices. At the conclusion of the project, we hired an environmental engineering consultant to confirm and commission air quality through testing and laboratory analysis.

The building was put back into operation without any further incidences of sick building syndrome.