JSU Trusees Vote to Build an Environmental Education Center in DeKalb County
According to Green Building Standards
Repeated here in its entirety.
Green's the thing for building projects in area
Environmentally friendly designs are a growing trend
Saturday, April 21,
News staff writer
The Birmingham News
Alabama lags the nation in developing environmentally
friendly buildings, but a crop of new projects across the
state and the Birmingham metro area could change that.
Green development practices are a growing trend among
developers who say they lead to another type of green -
money saved in operating and maintaining those buildings.
From designing with the sun in mind to constructing with
sustainable materials, green methods help cut utility bills
and improve productivity, all while being gentle to the
Earlier this week, the Jacksonville State University Board
of Trustees voted to build an environmental education center
in DeKalb County according to green building standards.
The move was fitting before Earth Day on Sunday, said Pete
Conroy, director of the JSU Field Schools. Officials hope
others follow the model of the $6.2 million Little River
"I hope that we can make the case that this is not
some trivial, tree-hugging metaphor for environmental
protection. This is truly a good business decision,"
The standards to be used in the project are part of the
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building
Rating System, a nationally accepted benchmark for the
design, construction and operation of high-performance green
According to the U.S. Green Building Council, Alabama has
just two LEED-certified projects - Homewood Middle School
and a NASA building in Huntsville.
California leads the country with 95 such projects. Among
Alabama's Southern neighbors, Georgia has 32 and
Florida has 14.
In the Birmingham area, high-profile projects aiming for
LEED certification include Colonial Brookwood Center in
Homewood and two downtown projects - the new Social Security
Administration Building and the redevelopment of the former
Federal Reserve property.
Savannah, Ga.-based Melaver Inc. is planning to renovate
the Federal Reserve building and add a 19-story tower with a
hotel and office space, a project worth about $95 million.
Melaver is no stranger to LEED projects, Chief Operating
Officer Colin Coyne said. The company developed the first
LEED-certified shopping center in the country and the only
Green design elements differ by project, but he expects
the Birmingham site to use creative stormwater management
methods, such as capturing stormwater runoff to hose down
A green-roof technique, which consists of rooftop gardens,
is expected to help capture more rainwater and reduce solar
Green design also plays a role in a building's
internal features, Coyne said, since environmental factors
For example, reducing columns inside a building helps
increase workers' direct line of sight to natural
light, which improves productivity and saves money for an
employer, he said.
Coming soon ...:
Colonial Brookwood Center is the first LEED project for
Birmingham's Colonial Properties Trust, said David
Fullington, vice president of leasing. The $40 million
office and retail development at Colonial Brookwood Village
plans to welcome its first tenant July 1.
LEED elements in Colonial's project include glass and
roofing materials to improve efficiency, as well as the
reclamation of asphalt at the site, Fullington said.
"We want to be a very responsible developer, and we
think that it will be important to future tenants," he
said. He noted that being in a LEED-certified building was
important to Southern National Gas, which is moving from
downtown to the new office.
Roald Hazelhoff, director of the Southern Environmental
Center at Birmingham-Southern College, said developers are
buying into the LEED trend because there is such a potential
market for energy efficiency.
"Developers are starting to realize the cost of
operating the building is higher than the cost of building a
building," he said.
Big developers who compete for projects nationwide are
leading the local trend, because many of their potential
clients, such as the federal government, require LEED
The challenge is getting the smaller firms and
homebuilders associations to catch on, he said.
For Melaver, green development costs only slightly more than
regular construction, less than 1 percent more for a basic
LEED-certified building, Coyne said. The difference is made
back in operating and maintenance costs.
A first-time LEED developer may see higher up-front costs
because there is a learning curve to the process, he said,
but again, other savings should make up the difference.
The biggest hindrance to LEED is ignorance, he said.
"But that ignorance is dropping quickly," he
said. "LEED buildings are becoming accepted and
demanded by tenants more and more. I think five years from
now, the companies who don't build their buildings to
LEED specifications will stick out."
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