Rivers Research Center to be area's first LEED-certified building: Designation is gold standard for sustainable construction
(The Telegraph (Alton, IL)(KRT) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Jul. 20--ALTON -- Lewis and Clark Community College is setting the standard for new construction in overseeing the first River Bend building to be certified as "green."
It makes sense for the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center, intended as a rivers research international field station, at the confluence of the Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois rivers, to lead by example in green construction, said Dale T. Chapman, president of Lewis and Clark Community College and chairman of the research center's board of directors.
The research and education to take place at the center is crucial for developing sound watershed and river management strategies that can have global implications as nations strive to protect and sustain river systems amid exploding populations and increasing scarcity of fresh water, Chapman said.
The National Great Rivers Research and Education Center, opening in 2009, is under construction off River Heritage Parkway (Illinois Route 143), popularly known as the "Berm Highway," at the Melvin Price Locks and Dam 26. The research and education center is possible through a partnership of Lewis and Clark Community College, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Illinois Natural History Survey.
"One whole aspect of who we are institutionally is our environmental mission of maintaining viable, sustainable rivers and clean water, and also maintaining our waterways for navigation and commerce," Chapman said.
The center's partners will seek the highest level in the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification program, also widely known as "LEED" in the development and construction industries. The rating system is based on points accumulated by eco-friendly and sustainable measures implemented in a building, including pre- and post-construction considerations, such as the use of local resources and materials and alternative energy sources that supply a completed structure. To be LEED-certified, a building must meet rigorous standards for energy and resource efficiency and a dramatic reduction of carbon dioxide emissions.
Homeowners and the private sector might not think much about the LEED rating system now, but it is the way future Illinois legislation is moving for publicly funded new construction across the state, which involves taxpayer money. Chapman estimated that the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center, its pervious parking lot and access road will cost approximately $14 million, which is more than 50 percent state-funded.
Since Aug. 24, 2007, when the Illinois General Assembly enacted an amendment to the School Construction Act, which is Public Act 95-0416, Illinois requires school construction projects that receive state funding to obtain green building certification for any structures receiving state funding after that date.
"There is a consideration that this could be more expensive," said Kate Tomford, senior policy adviser with Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn's office. "In some cases, the legislation offers an out, but it's not spelled out."
Tomford also pointed out that studies showed green buildings recoup their cost over time if they have a long enough time horizon for the investment.
"Capital might be more up front, because air-conditioning or heating is more expensive, but in fact, it is saving costs and energy over time," Tomford said. "Requirement determinations should be made on a case-by-case basis per school."
Other state legislation introduced this year that passed in the Illinois House, but was held up in the Senate Rules Committee, was House Bill 5113, which would require all new state-funded building construction and major renovations of existing state-owned facilities to seek green building certification.
Chapman considers LEED-certified buildings and green construction to be the next step in consumer energy conservation and sustainability, after recycling and replacing energy-wasting light bulbs, whether hiring a green-conscious contractor or self-remodeling a home, he said.
"If you can't control the big energy grid out there, you can be a wise consumer and save money," Chapman said. "Ask how you can change the way you consume energy as a private homeowner with solar and wind. It's fun to come home and see pathway lights working and knowing they're not on the power grid."
The current LEED self-assessing system is designed for rating new and existing commercial, institutional and high-rise residential buildings. It evaluates environmental performance from a whole building perspective over a building's life cycle, providing a definitive standard for what constitutes a green building.
Several measures will constitute the 30,000-square-foot National Great Rivers Research and Education Center as a LEED-, or green-, certified building. The building's low architectural profile, landscaping and other design features will minimize any visual or physical intrusion of the surrounding environment.
A heat-absorbing thermal envelope that includes a vegetative roof, grass-embedded paving stones and solar panels will provide heated water.
Electricity will be generated by solar panels, wind turbines, which will provide 40 percent of electricity, and river current-powered turbines, which will provide 60 percent of the electricity.
Rainwater from the vegetative roof and "gray water" from washbasins and drains will be collected and recycled for other uses.
"All of the water in the context of the building stays on the property itself in such a way it is reused, recycled and reclaimed," Chapman said.
Gray water is untreated or partially treated wastewater that is used for such purposes as watering lawns or flushing toilets, rather than using cleaner water of drinkable quality. The research center will wash trucks and boats with gray water, as well as use it for irrigation.
The building's natural construction materials have come from within 500 miles of the construction site, Chapman said. A wetlands area was created with dirt taken from the Missouri side to reach the elevation needed to sit atop the berm. Only natural, indigenous plants will be used for landscaping.
The Illinois Department of Transportation is building a $1.2 million pervious road leading to the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center's parking lot.
"It's one of the most green advanced roads IDOT is building," Chapman said. "It will be LED-lighted and have bio-swales, instead of curbs, that trap and cleanse water before it returns to the water table."
The combined watershed of the Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois rivers is home to 84 million people. The Mississippi River Watershed drains 41 percent of the continental United States. The human, plant and animal communities in the Mississippi Watershed surrounding the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center site include:
* 1.2 million square miles of covered earthen surface
* 30 mussel species
* 150 fishes
* 73 types of reptiles and amphibians
* 300-plus birds
* 50 mammals
* 600 types of plants
To see more of The Telegraph or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.thetelegraph.com/.
Copyright (c) 2008, The Telegraph, Alton, Ill.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
For reprints, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.
[ Back To Contact Center Solutions Homepage's Homepage ]