Renovating Buildings Sustainably

by eco18

Hi there–your resident architect here! I had a lot of questions about a few things on my previous post about LEED Certified Buildings: the Two-Minute Tour. I recently gave a speech at the Tri-State American Institute of Architects Conference. I thought I could explain a few items from that speech to give you a better idea of how my firm Kliment Halsband Architects is renovating existing buildings in a sustainable way while and attaining LEED certification.

My speech was about a project currently under construction called the Doty Building Renovation at SUNY Geneseo. As you can see from the photo the building is historic so it was extremely important to make this building sustainable while also maintaining the historic fabric of the building. There are a lot of green features we were able to develop in the building and its site but I am going to cover just a few that I thought might not be so mainstream.

One thing we’ve put in place at the Doty Building is a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan. This is a system or plan to make sure the rain that comes down on a site does not get contaminated and ruin fresh drinking water. To help capture water and clean it we installed previous pavement which makes sure oil from cars don’t seep into the groundwater. We also captured all of the rainwater at the roof and used it for flushing toilets. By capturing all the rain from one year we are able to avoid using any fresh drinking water for flushing toilets. The roof also has white reflective EPDM roofing that reflects the sun instead of absorbing it. This brings energy bills down because the mechanical systems don’t have to work so hard to cool off the building.

Another site feature is that this building was designed with a geothermal system. Life cycle cost analysis was completed for this building and geothermal would give the client the greatest payback over the life of the building. The project has 144 geothermal wells going about 435 feet deep into the earth. Geothermal essentially takes the temperature of the ground to create energy. You can see here in the image all of the piping going into the earth and coming into the building.

Daylighting can also be very helpful in reducing the cost of electricity from lighting. On this particular project we had very large windows and were able to slope ceiling, add glass storefronts and transoms which allowed us bring the daylight into the interior corridors and administrative spaces. We also added daylighting sensors which dim when a certain level of daylight is achieved. Another addition is occupancy sensors that turn off the lights when someone leaves the space.

These are just a few sustainable features on the building. The great thing about each of them is they do not intrude on the historic nature of the building–they allow the building to be sustainable whilst also not impacting the historic nature of the building. Let me know if you would like to hear about other strategies for developing sustainable buildings. If you are interested in viewing the entire show it was developed with another project, check out Gilman Hall at John’s Hopkins University:

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