Greensboro green building trends for homes, hotels and businesses
by Liz Vernon
Although it doesn't yet have any homes with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification, the Triad is starting to catch up with the rest of the state in building green.
Greensboro, for example, is home to the 120,000-square-foot Proximity Hotel and Print Works Bistro that opened in November and is expected to receive platinum certification this spring. The hotel contains green features like bamboo flooring, low-e windows, solar thermal heating and low-flow toilets. Because of its efficiency, it uses 41 percent less energy than a comparable building would.
"We really were operating off our own sustainable practice initiative," says Dennis Quaintance, president of Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants & Hotels and the lead designer for the hotel. "We didn't want to make our own green claim, so we found someone to certify our work as credible. After some research, we decided on the [U.S. Green Building Council] and LEED because we [thought it was] the most recognized, most thorough and most respected rating."
But even with the green features, comfort is still a top priority. "We want [our customers] to know we're a luxury hotel," Quaintance says. "Green doesn't have to be ugly, and it doesn't have to be in your face. I hope what we've done here is commonplace tomorrow."
In addition to the Proximity Hotel, Liberty Property Trust is pursuing LEED certification for its Bull Ridge Distribution Center as is Weaver Cooke Construction for its corporate headquarters.
And in Winston-Salem, LEED for Homes is gaining ground with a new development, Calliope Place, which will include five homes built on a downtown urban infill lot, says Anne Tambling, partner and a LEED Accredited Professional with Metropolis Architecture, one of the architects involved in the project.
The homes are part of the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art Home House Project, which included architects from around the world. "Basically, it was a competition for affordable sustainable housing," Tambling says. "The developers selected 10 [of those] houses. Once the owners select plans, they can work with the architects to tweak them."
The homes are about 2,000 square feet each and are being built using no-VOC materials, rainwater harvesting, passive solar design, low-flow fixtures and Xeriscaping, a water-conserving method of landscaping, Tambling says. Groundbreaking on the homes, which cost an average of about $300,000, will be this spring. The goal is a gold LEED certification for each house.
Dona Stankus, chair for the North Carolina chapter of the USGBC, says interest in sustainable construction - whether for homes or other kinds of buildings - has increased in the Triad and across the state. For example, a single-family home in Raleigh and two single-family homes and a mixed-use apartment building in Charlotte are currently pursuing certification.
"I think [green building is] moving forward at a pretty good pace," Stankus says. "When you look at movement across the state, most of it's been in the Triangle area. I've noticed interest picking up in [the Triad] in probably the past year and a half. It's moving so fast that I can't keep up with it all. I really think it's great."