Green design, LEED, ENERGY STAR. They’re all terms we hear when referring to sustainable, environmentally friendly or energy-efficient designs. What steps have we taken and how can you incorporate these ideas on your next project?
Over the last decade, science and industry have made significant advances in developing and bringing to market environmentally friendly and energy-saving building materials and systems. Never before has there been such opportunity to reduce the environmental impact of the projects we create. From improved construction practices, recycled content materials, low-VOC paints, lighting and mechanical control systems, the benefits are increasingly important to consider when undertaking a project.
HEALY | BENDER prides itself as a member of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the non-profit organization responsible for developing and maintaining LEED standards. We have more than a dozen design professionals experienced in the requirements of LEED project certification, many of whom are LEED Accredited Professionals themselves. Our professionals share the desire to design and create projects that not only reduce the initial impact on the environment, but also to reduce long-term energy use and improve occupant well-being.
In 2010, as part of our continued effort toward more energy efficient designs, HEALY | BENDER became an ENERGY STAR Partner with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Working with our long term client, Homer Community Consolidated School District 33C, we completed our first Designed To Earn the ENERGY STAR project, William E. Young School, a new 79,000 sf elementary school facility in Lockport, Illinois. The certification is a distinction awarded to projects designed to perform among the top 25 percent of similar use buildings in the U.S. The project employs a balance of eco-friendly and energy-efficient systems intended to educate students on the benefits of pursuing these practices. Just as important, the design is expected to decrease operating costs while at the same time increasing performance and user comfort.
Water Efficient Landscaping and Rain Water Harvesting
By using water efficient landscaping including native species, potable water use for irrigation can be reduced or eliminated altogether. As another method to reduce potable water use for irrigation, install a system that captures rainwater or recycles grey water. Schilling School in Homer Glen was designed with a 10,000 gallon storage tank that collects roof rainwater for irrigation use. Each year, the district expects to harness an average of more than 300,000 gallons of water.
Permeable Pavers and Green Roofs
Permeable paving surfaces are effective in managing runoff from paved surfaces. They minimize the impact and stress on existing storm sewer systems through reduced peak discharges and allow for better land use planning and more efficient use of available land, especially in high-density urban areas. Permeable pavers also reduce heat island effect. Our recent work at Isaac Singleton Elementary School in Joliet includes permeable parking lots. Installing a cool or green roof can also reduce heat island effect and minimize the impact on micro-climate and wildlife habitats. Roofs with a high solar reflectance index often have demonstrated cost savings due to reduced cooling loads.
Environmentally Responsible Site Planning
Design sites to conserve existing natural areas, reduce impervious cover, control erosion and minimize storm water runoff. William E. Young School in Lockport utilizes Best Management Practices (BMPs) including storm water bioswales and constructed wetlands to filter parking lot pollutants and promote on-site infiltration. Interpretive signage installed at the site provides an explanation of the eco-friendly details. Since the school opened in 2010, the district has reported frogs, birds and butterflies taking up residence at the new school. Teachers use the outdoor areas as a hands-on learning tool to educate students in the benefits of bio-diversity.
Water Use Reduction
Install low flow plumbing fixtures or dual flush devices. At William E. Young School, toilets and urinals were installed that will significantly reduce the amount of water used over the life of the facility. The 1/8 gallon per flush (gpf) urinals will reduce water consumption by over 85% compared to standard 1.0 gpf urinals popular on the market today. If each urinal flushes 60 times a day, the school will save more than 475 gallons of water each school day. Not only is potable water is saved, but the cost and impact of wastewater treatment is also reduced.