These days, it seems everyone touts being “green” and environmentally friendly. The word is used more as a bumper sticker in slick marketing package than for what it really is.
In the world of urban planning and development, however, being green is about more than just appearing as such. It is about the consideration of the community-wide environment, the regional environment and the implications of developing the land, in addition to site-specific building concepts.
And being green entails much work and planning, with developers and city officials working together with architects to ensure all the angles are covered to truly create an environmentally friendly project.
In the words of Kermit the Frog, it ain’t easy being green.
But at Flaherty & Collins Properties, it’s at the forefront of our development pipeline – and has been for some time. Flaherty & Collins Properties is experienced and familiar with various innovations and strategies regarding energy efficiency, including the National Green Building Standards of the National Association of Home Builders, as well as with LEED standards associated with the U.S. Green Building Council.
The Boulevard at Oakley Station in Cincinnati, Ohio, has been Silver LEED certified by the U.S. Green Building Council in the LEED Green Building Rating SystemTM and verified independent Green rater. This is no small feat, and one that F&C is proud of.
“We were diligent in our efforts and steadfast in ensuring the project met the requirements,” says Jim Crossin, Vice President of Development at Flaherty & Collins Properties and lead developer on the project. “Not just to earn the rating, but to truly raise development to a higher standard of building excellence for the surrounding community.”
These efforts are present throughout the F&C development portfolio, in both market rate and affordable housing.
“We’ve had several projects with numerous green components,” says Duane Miller, Vice President of Development & Community Asset Management at Flaherty & Collins Properties. “The goal is always to lower the environmental footprint, but there’s a tremendous added benefit of lower expenses for residents on their energy output. They’ve got more manageable bills. That makes a smart building truly smart for everyone in the community – the building itself, the residents, everyone.”
So what is LEED? In short, it stands for green building leadership. LEED is transforming the way we think about how buildings and communities are designed, constructed, maintained and operated across the globe, according to it’s website. And LEED certified buildings save money and resources, while having a positive impact on the health of occupants, in addition to promoting renewable, clean energy.
LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices. To receive LEED certification, building projects satisfy prerequisites and earn points to achieve different levels of certification. Prerequisites and credits differ for each rating system, and teams choose the best fit for their project.
“It’s certainly a milestone accomplishment for any project,” says Flaherty & Collins Properties CEO, David Flaherty. “It has become of our key components of projects in our development pipeline.”
A key feature of green building design is building automation and the automatic centralized control of a building’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning, lighting and other systems through a Building Management System or Building Automation System (BAS). The objectives of building automation are improved occupant comfort, efficient operation of building systems, and reduction in energy consumption and operating costs.
Building automation is an example of a distributed control system – the computer networking of electronic devices designed to monitor and control the mechanical, security, fire and flood safety, lighting, HVAC and humidity control and ventilation systems in a building. BAS core functionality keeps building climate within a specified range, provides light to rooms based on an occupancy schedule (in the absence of overt switches to the contrary), monitors performance and device failures in all systems, and provides malfunction alarms to building maintenance staff. A BAS should reduce building energy and maintenance costs compared to a non-controlled building.
A building controlled by a BAS is often referred to as an intelligent building, “smart building”, or (if a residence) a “smart home.” In order to use these buzz words, though, developers like Flaherty & Collins Properties must use a variety of different approaches.
“We’re engaged in a very hands-on way early on in the process,” says Brandon Bogan, Director of Design & Preconstruction Services at Flaherty & Collins Properties.
Bogan, who before working with F&C was the lead architect on numerous projects for CSO Architects, oversees all design and preconstruction services at Flaherty & Collins Properties, a cross-link between the construction and development teams, collaborating with project partners, managers and developers to ensure the overall vision of a project is not only met, but exceeds expectations, while monitoring budget goals and quality aspects of selections. Bogan is also a LEED Accredited Professional.
“You have to see the green features all the way through in a project, not just propose them,” Bogan says. “We do a great job of ensuring that those green features, whether the building is aiming for certification or not, are met.”
Some of the key green building features Flaherty & Collins Properties has used include:
- Water Saving Faucets, Shower Heads and Toilets
- Low E Glass & Energy Efficient Windows and Doors
- Energy Efficient Lighting
- Salt-water pools
- White TPO Roofing
- Low VOC paints and carpet
- Low VOC sealants
- Energy Efficient Furnaces & Water Heaters
- Energy Star-rated appliances
- Bike Racks
- Recycling on-site
- Electric Car Charging Stations
As more projects come into the Flaherty & Collins Properties pipeline with a green focus, that list will undoubtedly grow. A second phase of The Boulevard at Oakley Station will also aim for LEED certification, as well as several projects that various members of the Flaherty & Collins Properties development team are working on around the nation. 2700 University in St. Paul, Minnesota, once complete, will also receive Silver LEED status.
For Flaherty & Collins Properties, it really isn’t about being more marketable or hip or trendy. The growth of a “green” focus is about doing what is best for the community and the residents of the cities we work with, to truly create a lasting legacy.