Wellfleet, MA Audubon Center
The Wellfleet Audubon Center, a LEED Platinum Certified building, was a partial-new (2003) construction, partial-renovation of the original 1990 building and grounds. Excavation for the addition was minimized; demolition and recycling of waste followed highest LEED guidelines. Renovation increased building from 3000 sf to 8000 sf. To offset the added area, Audubon bought 5 acres of land to maintain as greenspace. Access road is of crushed stone, and walkways of permeable pavers. Local architect Andrew Miao designed this as his first green building, and landscape designer was Chris Oriuchi.
Materials in the renovation/new construction are of high recycled content: engineered wood-scrap beams and joists, shredded newspaper blown insulation and acoustic ceiling covering, recycled tire rubber flooring, pine floorboards salvaged from demolition in NJ, recycled plastics carpet and bathroom partitions, imitation slate from concrete & fly-ash, composite decking outdoors, and countertops of newspaper/resin composite. The exhibit provides hands-on samples for visitors to examine. Some new materials were used: “plyboo” and wheatboard office walls, Azek (vinyl) window trim, argon-filled double pane windows, and sustainable forest certified wood trim.
Sited in the woods on Cape Cod, there is no sewer or septic system. Composting Clivus toilets use 2oz. alcohol-based foam per flush into a large composting storage bin in the basement below; twice a year the bins are emptied to an outdoor compost bin; every 2-3 years the compost is used to fertilize plantings (non-edibles.)
A rainwater collection system irrigates the bog garden, using 4 partially subterranean 400-gallon cisterns that supply a latticework of perforated pipes under the bog and alongside plantings. A well provides drinking and cooking water. A wood furnace heats the entire building, using local Black Locust, which burns quite completely at high temperature and puts out clean exhaust with very little carbon content. Backup biodiesel fuel has never been needed. Natural ventilation provided by ceiling fans, operable ceiling windows, and heat-exchangers obviates the need for air conditioning, thus ground-source water cooling was deemed unnecessary.
Photovoltaic panels, a 3KW array on roof of new building and an 18KW array next to the bog garden, provide 30-40% of the building’s power. Consumption is minimized by use of occupant-sensors, T-5 bulbs, skylights, and natural ventilation. A planned wind turbine on the property will eventually take the building to net-zero energy consumption.
Outdoor new plantings are of native species; the hummingbird and insect garden contains a few non-natives, transplanted from the previous site. Joe Lawler, who gives a great tour of the facility, is particularly fond of the “All Persons Trail” of crushed schist, accessible to wheelchairs and persons using walking aids, which gently slopes to marsh and bay views. From a blind on the trail, walkers may see a Kingfisher diving in the marsh for its dinner.
The Essex County Greenbelt Headquarters Building, Essex, MA
by Eleanor Burke
The Essex County Greenbelt Association (ECGA) is headquartered in a 220-year-old farmhouse situated in a marshy meadow on the tidal banks of the Essex River. The building was expanded and renovated in 2006-07, to improve its usefulness to the owners and to make it as “green” as possible within the given budget, and in visual harmony with the style and period of the original building. Nine full-time employees use the building daily; as many as 30 people gather periodically in the meeting spaces.
A builder/designer coordinated the integrated planning for the renovation. He is conducting the documentation process for LEED certification, which may turn out to be Silver level. Because the mission of the ECGA is to preserve green spaces, the team maintained a clear focus during design and construction decisions. Through strategic use of grants and donations, the designer/owner/occupant team was able to “go greener” than they originally thought they would.
The building envelope was insulated with Icynene foam (water based, low VOC, 100x expansion to fill all cavities, R=up to 29) on exterior walls and attic ceiling. Double-pane operable windows replaced the originals, allowing fresh air 3 seasons/year and rendering the air conditioner rarely needed. A gas furnace (97% efficient) and forced hot air system replaced the old oil/radiator one. A 1000-gallon cistern recaptures and stores rainwater for gray water uses such as flushing and outdoor spigots. In dry spells or deep freezes, town-water is the backup system. Black roof shingles donated locally were a trade-off in the construction-cost v. green-goals of the project.
Construction waste was reused onsite or recycled. The old floorboards, for example, formed the desktops for all the offices and meeting room tables. New materials such as rugs and wall coverings were selected for recycled content and no/low VOC off-gassing. New floorboards and slate entry tiles came locally, from Vermont.
A few decidedly 21st-century features were added for green-modeling purposes. A small (1.5kw) photovoltaic unit of 10 panels provides about 10% of the power used in the building. Because the roof was not oriented for solar exposure, the unit is free-standing and rotates to follow the sun at 15˚/hr. A computer program monitors the PV energy use (tracked daily by a contracted German company); at peak use in summer it provides 17% of the building’s energy load, and in winter on a cloudy day, only about 2%.
The Essex County Greenbelt Association Headquarters walks its talk and models its mission. What a wonderful place to work, volunteer, or ramble through the meadows!
The town of Lexington, MA, opened a new LEED Silver building complex, 80,000sf for Public Works and Facilities on the 9.6 acre site of the old DPW. An Open House on Sept. 26, 2009, celebrated the new green building and invited the public for tours and information from the architect and building occupants/ operators. Winter solar gain is achieved in southern facing design. During construction, the site was decontaminated from the remnants of the 1900-1920 B&M RR Trolley Barn ($250K), including proper disposal of oil-contaminated soils, and 85% reuse or recycling of materials in the old buildings. Construction debris was also separated and recycled; new materials included 40% recycled content whenever possible, and were delivered from within a 500-mile radius.
Rainwater is collected, stored, reused (for washing town vehicles), and/or bio-filtered for aquifer recharge.
The roof of the building channels the rainwater either into the 10 x 500-gallon storage tanks (with tank hookup for street sweepers), or onto the 10,000sf section of green roof, or into one of four bio-swales on the site, which filter and drain in 24 hours into the local aquifer. The three systems are designed to handle a “100-year storm.” Parking spaces (though not truck through-ways) are of semi-permeable asphalt.
Most spaces have natural light from clerestory windows, skylights, and/or light-wells, and need no artificial lighting in daytime. Indoor rooms have occupancy sensors for lights on/off control, and use T5 CFLs. Ventilation air exchange is on demand (by CO2 sensors), and an enthalpy wheel recaptures heated or cooled/dehumidified air for reuse of the dry air and heat. Garage doors are minimized, with none facing north; ceiling fans pull summer night cooler air through louvers on north walls, maintaining day temp of 70˚ on a 90˚ outdoor day. Radiant heat in garage ceiling beams warms objects (not air), with temp maintained at 45˚ in winter. Concrete slab floor serves as thermal cool/heat mass.
The Minuteman Bike trail is adjacent to the DPW facility; a connecting link to DPW site encourages biking to work, and a bench/water fountain at the link invite passing riders to enjoy the use of the facility. The building has a bike rack and shower/changing rooms for staff who bike or walk to work or who exercise during lunch break or end of shift.
This is not your grandfather’s DPW facility!