How Did Our Building Meet LEED Standards?
We received 29 out of 69 points for this building, resulting in a LEED Certified rating. It took the cooperation of our architect, building contractors and many of our members working together to make this building as green as possible.
- We chose a site in a recovering area of Lansing that was close to facilities and close to public transportation.
- The site itself had formerly been a machine shop, and the soil was slightly contaminated. We received points for safely repurposing this land.
- We have rented parking spots from a neighboring business in order to build as small a parking lot as possible, to keep more of the land green and growing.
- The small parking lot we constructed used porous paving stones to allow water to filter into the ground, avoiding run-off.
- We used hardy native plants that require little or no watering or fertilizing.
- A gabion wall on the south side of the building prevents erosion. It was constructed with local field stone and construction fill (rocks that were to have been cleared and landfilled after construction).
- Rain barrels collect rainwater through the roof gutters for watering the plantings and lessen run-off.
- Contractors were instructed to separate their construction debris for recycling.
- There was no smoking allowed on the property during construction.
- Stone and concrete chunks that were used as fill during construction were reused as filler in our gabion wall.
- The building was constructed on a cement slab. Though cement is not environmentally friendly, it is a locally produced material. Had we dug a basement, the slightly contaminated soil would have needed to be trucked to a landfill. We reduced pollution by not digging a lower level. (This decision was based more on practicality and finances than on green principles.)
The building shell:
The building was designed to use as little energy as possible in construction and operation. Tim Mrozowski, our architect, was cognizant of LEED standards and chose materials and techniques to meet the requirements. Features include:
- 95% efficient furnace with air-filtration and heat-saving and recirculation.
- Triple insulated windows
- Large windows in the roof gables open into the interior to let in sunlight. We have no floor lamps and all lighting uses low-wattage fluorescent bulbs.
- Ceiling fans for air recirculation
- Windows that crank open to allow air circulation in the summer
- Originally no air conditioner was installed. It was hoped the building would maintain its temperature in the summer heat. Users were surveyed after occupancy to make sure their comfort was maintained. In 2016, after the survey, air conditioning was retrofitted in the interest of making the building accessible during the summer months.
- Toilets use 1.6 gallons per flush (older toilets use 5 gallons per flush); bathroom sinks use instant hot water.
- Flooring in the main rooms is cork. Cork comes from trees which can be sustainably harvested for hundreds of years. Flooring in the kitchen is Marmoleum (a type of linoleum), which is made from linseed oil (derived from trees).
- We installed no carpet. Most carpets are made of petroleum products, are hard to recycle and clean and wear out frequently. They add to landfills and use a lot of cleaning chemicals.
- Paints were bought from a local company: O’Leary Paints. Paints, caulks and finishes meet LEED standards with low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) emitted during painting and curing.
- Wooden window and base board trim came from a local family who donated a stand of ash trees to the meeting. These trees were in an area susceptible to Emerald Ash Borers and the trees would have been lost. We were pleased to be able to salvage the lovely wood and mill it to use in this building. The wood was dried in a solar kiln, planed, milled and finished on site.
- Landscaping plants were chosen that are drought and disease resistant. We used plants native to this area. Plant growth at the back of the building will remain mostly natural.
- The chairs, tables, and most of the kitchen equipment was previously used. We have purchased used dishes and flatware and other items to lessen the need for disposable tableware.
Use and maintenance:
- Accessible recycling bins are provided for paper, clear glass, metal, plastic and Styrofoam. We encourage people to bring in magazines to swap and we encourage reusing and recycling among the building’s users.
- There is no smoking on the property, thereby keeping our air cleaner and discouraging an unhealthy habit.
- Green cleaning products are used in maintenance of the building.
- We have minimal devices on site that draw electricity. We have no computers, printers, fax machines, or televisions.
What we couldn’t do:
We had to balance our wish list with our available cash. Here are some things we would like to have included.
- Green roof: — the roof over the kitchen area is a flat roof. It is designed to support roof-top plantings.
- A metal roof on the rest of the building.
- Solar, wind power or thermal heating and cooling. We buy “green” power from the Lansing Board of Water and Light, but do not have alternative electricity generation on site.
- Gardens. Because of the slightly contaminated soil, if we plant gardens, we need to either dig out and replace large amounts of soil or build raised beds with clean planting soil. We regret not having the ability to let the kids dig in the soil and/or to grow fruit trees or otherwise use the site for raising food.
- Recessed floor mats. Recessed mats would keep our shoes cleaner, thereby reducing the need to vacuum the floors as often. Keeping floors cleaner extends the life of the flooring materials.