by Cynthia Price
It was a long time coming, says Ted Boersma, Regional Director of Administration for Barnes and Thornburg LLP, but the law firm has achieved its eco-friendly goal.
Barnes and Thornburg moved into its new offices in January 2009, set its sights on LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for its interior shortly thereafter, and finally received notification in late April of this year that it was certified.
The plaque was hung just last week.
Though it takes 16 to 20 weeks to get approval after the application is submitted, Boersma said that most of the time was spent in conceiving and executing the energy-saving and environmentally-friendly design.
After Barnes and Thornburg submitted its application, which involves claiming numbers of points for each practice, evaluators spend the next 30 days investigating whether the claims have a basis in fact. After that, it is another 12-16 weeks’ wait while the U.S. Green Building Council, originators of LEED certification, process the submission.
Boersma said that the law firm was fairly certain the office would receive LEED-CI (for Commercial Interior) certification because so much thought went into the design and renovation process.
Pioneer Construction played the largest role, while Concept Design Group worked hard on planning for the best possible project. Boersma said that Sustainable Mechanical Design, which created the heating and cooling systems, and WPF Engineering of Belmont, the electrical contractor, deserve much of the credit for their energy-environmental construction expertise.
Boersma says that the company originally looked at the LEED certification because managers knew that Grand Rapidians put an emphasis on green building. “We felt it was something we should support to enhance our community,” Boersma says.
Aspects of the LEED certification include reduced energy use in the heat and air conditioning systems including gains made by designing in conformance with where sun energy can assist; reduced electricity through better lighting design, particularly through use of natural light where possible; sourcing as locally as possible to reduce transportation miles; and recycling rather than land-filling the materials resulting from demolition.
Many, though not all, of these practices yield eventual cost savings. But, as Boersma points out, all of them result in “feel-good” returns.
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