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Green building movement picking up steam in Indiana: More than 100 LEED projects in pipeline statewide

September 15, 2008

The portfolios of local architectural firms are beginning to boast more ecofriendly projects.

But it hasn't been that way for long. The trend to seek Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification is a recent phenomenon that appeals not only to the tree-hugging crowd but corporations and government entities, too.

"We're definitely getting to the point where clients are asking us about the LEED process," said Eric Anderson, a project architect at Axis Architecture + Interiors. "Whereas before, even [as recent as] a couple years ago, we as architects had to bring it up."

The Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Green Building Council administers the LEED program and certifies projects, depending upon the extent of "greenness." Participants can achieve certified, silver, gold or platinum status by building upon a sustainable site, choosing renewable materials and resources, integrating energy- and water-efficient systems, and improving indoor air quality.

The value of green construction nationwide quadrupled, from $3.2 billion in 2001 to $12 billion in 2005, according to the most recent statistics available from USGBC. Even more impressive, the figure is expected to climb to $60 billion in 2010.

Statewide, 10 projects have earned LEED certification, including one platinum and two gold ratings. In Indianapolis, the IDO Inc. office downtown achieved silver status, and the Indiana State Police/Indiana State Department of Health toxicology laboratory a certified rating.

The list of certified projects is sure to grow, however. About 110 projects in Indiana are registered and awaiting LEED consideration. Here's a look at some of them.

Nature Conservancy

The conservation organization has purchased ground at 614 E. Ohio St. downtown and is planning to construct an office that could become the city's first platinumcertified building.

The building, which formerly housed Nemec Supply Co., will be razed to make room for a 20,000-square-foot facility currently in the design phase. Axis Architecture is the architect of record.

One of the more unusual aspects of the design is a green roof that will feature various types of plants to reduce storm water runoff. Less than 4 inches of soil will be spread on the majority of the roof to support plants that can live on little water. A smaller area will have deeper soil in which shrubs and tall grasses will be planted.

The nature conservancy will receive LEED credits for building in an urban location that is close to public transportation routes and amenities such as grocery stores and banks.

A large portion of the brick and some of the wood timbers will be recycled from the current building, and native materials within a 500-mile radius will be used. Other highlights include a geothermal heat pump to offset heating and cooling costs, a raised-floor ventilation system, and efficient lighting.

The nature conservancy currently is at the Harrison Center for the Arts and plans to move to its new location late next year.

Children's Bureau

The locally based not-for-profit that aims to prevent abuse and neglect is building a $9.2 million service center at 16th and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. streets.

The agency is seeking silver certification and receives points before construction even begins. That's because the new facility that will replace the bureau's existing center is being built on a brownfield site.

Demolition has begun on a few wings of the structure, but parts of it (particularly the emergency day-care center) won't come down until the building is finished in about a year.

An innovative heating and cooling system that takes warm or cool air from one part of the building and uses it to heat or cool other parts is one of the more interesting aspects of the project.

Efficient water fixtures, non-toxic paint and carpet, as well as the use of green cleaning products and recycled materials, also are among the LEED elements.

Materials from the toppled building will be separated and recycled, said Sarah Hempstead, a principal of locally based Schmidt Associates Inc., architect for the project.

"There's not a lot of cash available, so we have to pick things that make sense," she said, citing the agency's not-for-profit status. "Something like solar panels, that are sexy green stuff, those are out from the beginning."

Community Hospital South

Community Health Network's southside hospital is vying for LEED certification as well. An expansion of the emergency department completed in August 2007 could earn silver or gold status.

The white membrane roof reflects heat rather than absorbing it, native plants used in landscaping make watering unnecessary, and bike racks encourage alternative transportation options.

Indoors, dual-flush toilets use less water, paints and carpeting have lower chemical emissions, and construction materials were produced regionally.

Schmidt Associates

The architectural firm also is busy planning a LEED project on its own headquarters. It already has a solar canopy on its building on East Vermont Street and a partial green roof.

An expansion to cover most of the roof with plants is in the planning stages. Once finished, the firm hopes that this project, among other things it has undertaken, will earn it a silver rating.

The expansion of the green roof should be done within a year and will take longer to plan and install because employees are doing the work themselves.

Schmidt pays parking expenses for its employees. But as an incentive to use public transportation, it pays for bus passes, too. To encourage biking to work, the firm has storage areas and showers so workers can freshen up after a ride. Columbus Regional Hospital

Administrators at Bartholomew County's lone hospital were in the beginning stages of seeking silver certification for a building renovation-until heavy rains flooded city streams June 7, causing widespread damage.

Property damage and business interruption losses at the hospital alone total nearly $200 million. With more important tasks at hand, such as getting the facility fully operational again, the LEED project temporarily has been scrapped.

"We'll know in 2009 when we'll be able to resume that," CRH spokeswoman Denise Glesing said. "It's still the right thing to do."

The hospital's emergency department reopened Aug. 1, but patients still need to be transported to a nearby hospital to receive follow-up care. The hospital is expected to be operational by late October.

City of Lafayette

The $500,000 estimate to complete a reuse project at 515 Columbia St. in downtown Lafayette may not seem significant, but the building's location next to City Hall makes it so.

The plan is to move the city's redevelopment department into the space that was occupied up until a year ago. Plans are in the initial stages, so details are scarce. But city officials are striving to gain the highest level, platinum.

Axis Architecture is doing the design work and will host three educational forums before, during and after the project's construction, offering the public a look at the "approaches, techniques and materials" involved in a project seeking LEED certification. The first forum is set for Sept. 17 at 4 p.m. Avon Middle School North

The building set to open next August is a $33.5 million project that is on track to become the state's first LEED-designated school. Locally based Gibraltar Design Inc. is the architect.

Administrators are seeking a certified rating that includes basic green initiatives such as an energy-efficient HVAC system, water-conserving fixtures and systems, low-watt lighting, and recycled materials.

The building itself can serve as a teaching tool for students interested in learning about recycling and eco-friendly trends.

Tim Ogle, superintendent of the Avon Community School Corp., helped spearhead the effort.

"We want to be seen as sensitive to development around here and try to make the community a better place," he said.

Keep Indianapolis Beautiful

KIB moved into its renovated building in the Fountain Square neighborhood earlier this year and is pursuing either silver or gold status.

Which rating the not-for-profit could achieve remains unclear until the wind turbine on the property is studied. Contractors continue to conduct wind-measurement studies to determine the turbine's contribution to the building's total energy needs. KIB also pays extra to purchase a portion of its electricity from Indianapolis Power & Light in the form of green power. IPL buys it from a Minnesota wind turbine farm.

Additional LEED features include a parking lot made of pervious concrete that prevents storm water runoff, and a large cistern that collects rainwater, which is used to water trees the agency plants.

A whiter roof reflects the light and reduces energy costs. An atrium at the center of the building increases the amount of natural lighting.

Ratio Architects Inc. designed the building on Fletcher Avenue; Shiel Sexton Co. Inc. was the project manager. Like Schmidt, Shiel Sexton is striving for LEED status on its own headquarters.

Shiel Sexton

Shiel's building on North Capitol Avenue could receive a silver rating by the end of the month, project coordinator Cameron Smith said.

The contractor had leased the top floor of the building. But when the tenant moved out last year, it opted to use the space after a renovation that would qualify as environmentally friendly. The $250,000 refurbishment took about three months and was finished in January.

Rest rooms were retrofitted with aerators on the faucets to slow the flow of water, and dual-flush capabilities on the toilets reduce water usage. Shiel purchased renewable energy credits that allow consumers to guarantee the electricity they consume is replaced by clean power. Skylights in the roof add natural lighting.

Carpet, drywall and metal studs contain high amounts of recycled content. Countertops are made from recycled glass.

"We have new jobs every day where owners are saying, 'Hey, let's look at this as an option,'" Smith said. "So it was an opportunity to educate our own employees."

Amazon.com

AllPoints at Anson, a mixed office, industrial and residential development in Whitestown spread over 1,700 acres, will contain an environmental component.

Local developers Duke Realty Corp. and Browning Investments have made improvements to the 618,000-square-foot warehouse Amazon.comwill occupy as an order-fulfillment center.

Installation of renewable construction materials, energy management systems and high-efficiency lighting was finished in July. Owners should know within the next few months whether they reached gold status.
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