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green@work : Magazine : Back Issues : Mar/Apr 2002 : What Makes It Green : Getting the Green Treatment


What Make's It Green?
Getting the Green Treatment

Design manager Scott Trusler is among the first to admit that designing a water treatment facility to LEEDTM certification in one of the greenest cities in the world is no easy undertaking. But that’s exactly what CH2M HILL Constructors, Inc., Bellevue, WA, set out to do when it signed a contract with the City of Seattle in April 2001 to design and build the Cedar Treatment Facilities, Operations Building.

“Back at the proposal phase, we decided to go down a path of least impact, including environmental stewardship for both owner and company,” Trusler explains. That can prove to be a daunting task in and of itself. However, CH2M faces the additional challenge of trying to reach LEED certification on a fixed budget.


Six Submissions to the annual "What Makes It Green?" exhibit.

“What we’ve had to do is blend together the business reality of designing and constructing with a fixed construction price along with the introduction of sufficient points for LEED certification,” says Trusler. Although CH2M does have an incentive payment to work toward if the project achieves gold certification (silver is required for contractual compliance), “it’s been interesting from that standpoint because it’s been a more rigorous process,” he says.

With the City of Seattle being out in the forefront of green initiatives, certain features of the project come with very high standards. For example, the construction waste management plan for the project has an ambitious goal of diverting 75 percent of construction waste material from the landfill by means such as recycling wood forms, waste material and packing materials. Additionally, a dedicated area for recycling within the building will be part of an ongoing recycling plan for the facility after occupancy.

Further, a goal for strict construction limits has been set that allow site disturbance only slightly beyond the building footprint and parking lot. Those areas that are being disturbed during construction will be restored, and the trees on site will also be preserved where practical. A soil and erosion control plan will stabilize the area during construction through seeding, silt fencing and bioswales, and water runoff will be addressed with permanent stormwater detention and treatment and pervious paving.

The structure itself, which will be staffed 24 hours per day with treatment plant operators, facilitates natural heating and ventilation through strategically placed operable glazing, passive solar shading, sloping roofs and a large thermal mass. High reflectance metal roofing will also be used on a portion of the roof to reduce heat island effects in summer, and clerestories automatically open to purge warm air. A heat recovery duct on the south end of the building captures radiant heat, which is then used to warm other parts of the building interior.

Daylighting is provided throughout the building with windows and clerestories made with high performance low-e glazing. High performance lighting, HVAC systems and Energy Star-rated appliances further reduce energy demands in this efficient structure. Building commissioning will also help maximize energy efficiency, as well as provide cost savings over the long-term life of the building.

At least 25 percent of the materials specified for the project have recycled content, with a goal of achieving 50 percent for both exterior and interior work. Materials include recycled plastic toilet partitions, gypsum wall board, concrete, rebar, carpet and ceiling tiles. Goals such as these can be difficult to achieve due to construction phase realities related to material availability, cost premiums associated with limited competition and other factors. Therefore, the LEED certification is not heavily reliant on achieving these goals.

In addition, a primary goal is to have 20-40 percent of the materials manufactured and harvested locally, including the CMU, certified wood, metal doors and windows and concrete. Many of the materials are also made from renewable resources such as cork and rubber flooring, landscape mulch, cellulose insulation and straw and wheatboard for walls and casework.

The design team worked to enhance green design in every facet of the building inside and out. But even in the details, the overall goal of the facility was kept in mind.

“This building is a small piece of a much bigger project,” Trusler says. “The purpose of the much bigger project is making 180 million gallons of high quality drinking water per day. That’s the core objective of the facility.”

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