LEED in jeopardy in Ohio

Ohio Senate has passed SCR 25, which would ban the use of LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, v4. The bill is now in the Ohio House. If this bill passes, any state project would not be able to gain LEED registration or certification after summer 2014.

Please contact your House representative and ask her/him to vote NO on SCR 25. Encourage others to do the same.

Nature returns to Fernald, with help

A notorious industrial site now nurtures wetlands, prairies, walking trails and 170 bird species

Business Courier of Cincinnati – by Tanya Bricking Leach Courier Contributor

Jay Stenger has been admiring the scenery at Fernald.

Just a few years ago, that would have been an impossible statement. No one like Stenger, a birder and past president of the Cincinnati Bird Club, would have driven 18 miles northwest of Cincinnati to admire the wildlife in this part of Crosby Township. It was too marred by waste pits, a few hundred bleak-looking buildings and four decades of use during the Cold War as a plant that refined raw uranium for nuclear weapons.

Once the Department of Energy got behind a $4.4 billion cleanup to make the place environmentally friendly, Fernald became what it is today: Fernald Preserve, two linked words that are no longer a contradiction in terms.

The once-toxic plant is free of almost all of its industrial buildings, including storage silos that contained the largest source of radon gas in the world. What’s left is becoming a destination for nature-lovers.

That’s exactly what the designers of the Fernald Preserve intended. They wanted this place to stand as an example of how an industrial site could be restored to its natural landscape, complete with wetlands, prairies, walking trails – and more than 170 species of birds.

“If you give nature a chance, you’re going to have birds,” Stenger said of the 1,050-acre property, which now looks a little more like it might have 200 years ago. “That’s the wonderful thing about nature. It heals itself.”

What’s special about the new Fernald Preserve Visitors’ Center, converted from a pre-engineered steel warehouse, is that it stands as kind of the last little house on the prairie at the old foundry. Much of what was left of old buildings is buried in a giant mound nearby.

The Visitors’ Center, a $3 million building with a sleek and crisp glass-fronted lobby, opens to the public Aug. 20. It is a candidate for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification. That’s the second-highest rating from the U.S. Green Building Council in a ranking system that has become a nationally accepted benchmark for design, construction and operation of “green” buildings.

Creating an energy-efficient building out of the only remaining warehouse at Fernald was a challenge.

“Nearly everything we put in the building had some content of recycled material in it,” said Jim Kilpatrick, a project manager for Megen Construction Co.

Megen worked with Glaserworks architect Adam Luginbill and a team that included faculty and students from the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Art, Architecture and Planning. They transformed the warehouse into a bright and modern lobby aligned along a “solstice wall” meant to honor the Native Americans who once walked the land.

Exhibits will explain the story of Fernald’s people, from Native Americans to the farmers who gave up their land for the plant, the workers who filled it and those who cleaned it up. The warehouse itself is from the cleanup era, free of any contamination.

The rest of the building is a study in what it means to go green.

“There are light sensors that come on when you enter a room,” said Jeff Williams, another Megen project manager. From the low-emitting paints to high-efficiency plumbing, the building is an example of how homeowners could make their homes greener. “It’s a good model that shows LEED is achievable,” he said.

The team used concrete from the old warehouse floor for erosion prevention. The new concrete is reinforced with recycled steel. A geothermal heating and cooling system uses water from a pond to reduce energy consumption. The paint, plumbing, carpet and lights all got the “green” light.

“LEED gave us the framework for what we’re trying to accomplish,” said Luginbill, who made sure the project used plenty of regional materials and building material from recycled sources.

The result — a nature preserve in what was once an environmental disaster — shows that Fernald’s story has come full-circle, said Jane Powell, Fernald site manager for the DOE’s Office of Legacy Management.

She’s most proud of what when into keeping it safe.

“There’s beauty in so many ways,” she said. “It’s green. There’s water. There’s wildlife. It’s hard to believe there was ever anything here other than this.”

Fernald Preserve

  • Owner: U.S. Department of Energy
  • General contractor: Megen Construction Co.
  • Architect: Glaserworks
  • Design and exhibits: University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Art, Architecture and Planning
  • Environmental remediation: S.M. Stoller
  • Geothermal: RPC Mechanical
  • Waste recycling: Rumpke
  • Cost: $3 million for the Visitors’ Center alone, and more than $5 million more for redevelopment of the land, trails, landscaping and educational materials
  • Size: A 10,800-square-foot former warehouse

Ohio’s first “silver” public elementary school opens

Supporters of Cincinnati’s new–and very special–Pleasant Ridge Montessori School are invited to a preview tour noon to 4 p.m. Aug. 10 at 5945 Montgomery Road.

Set to open for the 2008-09 school year, Pleasant Ridge Montessori was designed and engineered to be the first public elementary school in Ohio to meet the silver standards of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™. The nationally recognized facility is designed for Montessori instruction.

Pleasant Ridge Montessori is the neighborhood school for Amberley Village, Golf Manor, Pleasant Ridge and parts of Columbia Township, Kennedy Heights and Silverton.

Emersion Design pursuing LEED certification

We’re glad to hear that Cincinnati-based Emersion Design would be the first architecture/engineer firm in the world to be certified platinum through the U.S. Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

This news release from Feb. 7 mentions Emersion’s pursuit of LEED certification within the context of a visit from Gov. Strickland:

Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland visited the Hamilton County Business Center Feb. 7 as part of a statewide tour of businesses that exemplify growth, technology, sustainable design and renewable energy. His visit and comments reflected a commitment to energy, jobs and progress for the State of Ohio.

The Hamilton County Business Center provides a home for more than 50 new and emerging businesses. Emersion Design was selected as one of three companies visited by the Governor during his time in Cincinnati.

During the tour of Emersion Design’s office, the Governor expressed interest in the firm’s growth, the jobs being created, and Emersion Design’s sustainable practice. As an emerging small business that achieved 300 percent growth in its first year of business, Emersion Design represents the type of success the Governor has championed with his focus on progress and job creation for the State of Ohio.

Emersion Design’s professionals shared with the governor their vision of–and commitment to–sustainable design practice. The firm will certify their office space at the highest sustainability rating level, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum. There are currently no architecture/engineer firms anywhere in the world certified at this level. The firm hopes that this will be both a challenge and example to others to support environmental stewardship.

Emersion Design provides architecture, master planning, programming, space planning, interior design and structural engineering for a broad variety of clients interested in strategic quality design.

Cole + Russell Architects certified in ‘green’ work

Cincinnati Enquirer Business Notes

DOWNTOWN – Three employees of Cole + Russell Architects have qualified as LEED Accredited Professionals. The three, who passed the LEED exam conducted by the Green Building Certification Institute, are Timothy M. Wiley, a project associate in the firm’s Housing Design Group; Kara Repnow, a project associate in the Government Design Group; and Sari Lechtinen, an architect in the Housing Design Group.

The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) designation indicates a thorough understanding of sustainable principles in the areas of site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor air quality.

Cole + Russell Architects Inc. is an employee-owned architectural firm with offices at 537 E. Pete Rose Way, Suite 200, and in Denver, Colo. Its portfolio includes designs for commercial, educational, governmental, hospitality, residential and retail projects.

Information: 513-721-8080 or www.colerussell.com.

Art Academy campus LEED certified

Park + Vine neighbor Art Academy of Cincinnati recently became the seventh LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified property in Cincinnati. Here’s the news release with all the details:

For Immediate Release
Information: (513) 562-8743

Feb. 25, 2008 (Cincinnati, Ohio) – The Art Academy of Cincinnati announced today that it has been awarded LEED Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). LEED is the USGBC’s leading rating system for designing and constructing the world’s greenest, most energy efficient, and high performing buildings. The Art Academy’s new facility at 1212 Jackson Street in the revitalized section of Over-the-Rhine is the seventh LEED Certified building in Cincinnati, following three at the University of Cincinnati, two commercial structures, and the Cincinnati Zoo’s Harold C. Schott Education Center.

“We are extremely proud of the recognition of our collective effort by the USGCB,” said Art Academy President Gregory Allgire Smith, “especially as it began five years ago through the advocacy of our Professors Kim Krause and Christy Carr Schellhas, was supported by our undergraduate students, was endorsed by our Board’s Facilities Committee and the Board of Trustees, and then realized by our Design-Build team led by Miller Valentine Group and Architectural team led by Design Collective Inc.”

The new home of the Art Academy is composed of two adjacent structures, which date to 1906 and 1927 and were designed to produce 120,000 sq. ft. of educational space, to achieve LEED certification for energy use, lighting, water and material use, and to secure Federal Historic Tax Credits. The LEED program verifies environmental performance, occupant health and financial return. LEED was established by USGBC for market leaders to design and construct buildings that protect and save precious resources while also making good economic sense.

The Art Academy of Cincinnati is to be congratulated for achieving LEED Certification,” said Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO, and Funding Chair, U.S. Green Building Council. “The certification of its new home at 1212 Jackson Street sends a message that the Art Academy cares about the health of the building’s users – whether students, Faculty and instructors, or administrators. Everyone’s comfort, safety and well-being will benefit for the fresh air and natural daylight.”

Additionally, this project’s Historic Tax Credits provided over $1.8 million to the $13 million project, the most significant capital improvement project in the college’s 139-year history, which allowed the Art Academy to consolidate into one facility, double its space, provide one hundred undergraduate students with on-campus studio space, and become part of the current revitalization of the historic Over-the-Rhine neighborhood.

Besides LEED Certification the Art Academy building has received eleven other awards for Design (6), Historic Preservation (3), Economic Impact on Neighborhood Development (1), and Construction (1).

Going green with ‘zoo poop’


The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden has launched a project that will turn one of its most abundant natural resources into energy.


There are no specific numbers on how much it will save the zoo in energy costs, but the team working on the project says it will be tens of thousands of dollars annually at the outset and more as the program progresses.

In about two years, when the plan is fully implemented, the elephant and giraffe houses will be heated, cooled and lit by animal waste converted to energy. At least two other zoos – Denver and Dallas – are in the beginning stages of similar projects.

Poo Power, as the senior staff is calling it, is one phase of Go Green, a multi-tiered initiative that informally began in 2005 with a water-saving project and construction of the Harold C. Schott Education Center aimed at making Cincinnati one of the country’s greenest zoos, said Mark Fisher, senior director of facilities and planning.

“From now on, every project we undertake will be with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification in mind,” Fisher said. “This is a long-term, lifetime commitment we’re undertaking because of the tremendous cost advantage, but more than that because it’s the right thing to do for the planet.”

Fisher, 32, a civil engineer, has been at the zoo two years. The Mason resident arrived after 11 years with Turner Construction, “with half of the years spent here, working on the elephant house, polar bear exhibit, Children’s Gift Shop, Safari Camp and smaller projects.”

“But this is the biggest and most ambitious one we’ve undertaken. We realize it’s something that will cost us more on the front end but will pay huge dividends as time goes by. Some of the changes we’ve made or are making will pay for themselves in as little as a year.”

LEED is a national program developed by the U.S. Green Building Council to promote environmentally sustainable construction and energy use (www.usgbc.org/LEED). It awards points based on how well a site meets certain prerequisites, then rates a building as Certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum. The zoo’s education center, certified last September, is the only Silver Certified building in Cincinnati and two points short of Gold.

The extraction of power from “poo” – biomass in more scientific terms – is a project is in its infancy. Step one is a $15,000-$20,000 feasibility study, co-funded by Duke Energy and the Ohio Department of Development, and already under way to determine how much energy the elephant waste will generate.

Hard numbers are due back in the spring, but Fisher has what he thinks are accurate estimates.

“We have four elephants weighing more than 37,000 pounds and they produce 800 pounds of waste a day. That’s at least 20 kw (kilowatts) and enough to heat the elephant house and maybe giraffe house too (on a daily basis). Right now, we pay Rumpke to haul the waste away, so there’s another savings and another plus because we’re diverting it from a landfill.

“Other animals here don’t produce like elephants, but the study will look at the rhino, giraffe, other hoofed stock and even tiger output for conversion rates.”

Zoo visitors will contribute to Poo Power as well – but only via meals they don’t finish. As the project progresses, separate bins for food waste – half eaten burgers, hot dogs, pizza crusts – will be installed so dinner remnants can go through the energy conversion process. Likewise, the horticultural department will contribute with clippings and other garden waste.

“The biomass technology is out there and functional, but it has never been done on a small scale,” Fisher said. “Huge factory farms that produce tons of waste a day use it, but we don’t have tons to work with, so one of our first jobs after the study will be to design and build a small unit for smaller-scale facilities.

“The unit we design will have implications for the rest of the country in other zoos, smaller horse farms and cattle ranches.’’

Poo Power cost projections won’t be available until the feasibility study is completed, but the bulk will be private money.

“I’m confident we can fund it as we move along,” Fisher said. “Duke and the State of Ohio are already behind the project.”

Jim Lefeld, Duke’s director of renewable energy, said Poo Power is just a start.

“This project will provide Duke Energy the opportunity to further investigate the feasibility of small-scale waste-to-energy applications,’’ he said. “And it compliments current work Duke is doing in rural areas of its service territory to develop economic solutions to resolve livestock waste management problems.

“We have an active livestock industry in Indiana and North Carolina, and this project has implications for them, especially in the area of waste management problems. But there are also zoos all over the three states where the project has applications.”

When the time comes to fully implement, the zoo will use either a gasification unit or an anaerobic digester. Both do the same thing – convert methane gas into energy – but a digester does it with micro organisms while gasification uses heat. Whichever the zoo uses, the unit will be positioned on a main loop where visitors can see it and read signage about what’s happening.

“At the end of the day,’’ Fisher said, “the most important thing is that this is the right thing to do.”

UC rec center earns LEED certification

Business Courier of Cincinnati

The University of Cincinnati’s campus recreation center, completed in 2006, on Wednesday received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Designed by KZF Design Inc. of Cincinnati and Thomas Mayne of Morphosis and built by Turner Construction, the center met a set of criteria for sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

The 353,000-square-foot building received credit for a 35 percent reduction in water usage, use of recycled-content materials, a rainwater collection system, landscaping and a “green” outreach education center. It is Greater Cincinnati’s largest LEED-certified building to date.


Edge Condos first to win city LEED incentives

Cincinnati Business Courier

City of Cincinnati officials and developers of the Edge Condos announced Tuesday it will be the first residential project to earn city tax incentives for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification.

LEED certification, a designation by the U.S. Green Building Council, rates a construction project according to its energy and waste reduction, water conservation and air quality. The city announced earlier this year that it would incentivize with tax abatements the owners of certified projects and the developers who build according to these standards.

The 77-unit downtown condo project features loft-style units ranging in size from 1,700 square feet to 4,000 square feet and ranging in price from $165,000 to more than $1 million.