Salt Lake City raises ratings in green building standards

Salt Lake City raises ratings in green building standards

by Lindsay Murphy

In 2006, the Salt Lake City Council unanimously voted to require all new city owned buildings to earn a silver rating under the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED program. At the same time, they also agreed that developers who erect buildings larger than 10,000 square feet with city funds must be at least LEED certified.

In January, new Mayor Ralph Becker said he would like to see similar green building standards applied to the private sector, suggesting an incentive-based approach in which the city provides a streamlined permitting process for private developers who commit to LEED projects.

Steve Akerlow, vice president and principle broker of Newport Enterprises, which is partnering with developer Proterra Inc. to develop an eco-friendly condominium project in downtown Salt Lake City, wishes the expedited process was already in place.

"We'd like to have our permits now and get going, but we're not there yet," says Akerlow, who hopes to break ground in May on 45 silver-rated LEED condos, many offering city views. The Newport CitiView complex, with four stories and an underground parking garage, will be replacing the former Temple View Motel.

Akerlow says there is a lot of interest in CitiView and that 17 of the units are already reserved. They will range in price from $250,000 for the smaller one-bedroom units to $700,000 for the 1,900-square-foot penthouse, which will offer an expansive deck overlooking downtown Salt Lake. The units will also boast a long list of LEED-friendly design elements, including bamboo floors, low-e double-paned windows, low VOC paints, water-efficient fixtures and countertops made of recycled materials.

"The LEED program is a little bit new to residential and they're still working out some of the bugs, so we thought this might be a great opportunity to have some input into that to figure out how to do a good condo project," Akerlow says. "Our demographic is really sensitive to the environment. They want to know what steps we're taking." Akerlow and his team have begun by recycling construction waste.

"We've already stripped off the aluminum soffits and fascia and all the asphalt [from the old motel]," Akerlow says. "Instead of just throwing it all into a big pile and taking it to the dump, everything is getting recycled."

Building according to LEED for Homes standards "takes a little more work and a little more conscientiousness on the contracting and designing side," says Jim Fackrell, managing director for Utah New Visions Construction and commissioning agent for the project. "But, I do believe that it's something that is here to stay," he says.

Kelly Morgan, a partner at Method Studio and the project's LEED accredited architect, agrees and says residential green building is only going to grow in popularity.

"It's becoming easier to build green because the industries surrounding architecture are providing more products and options," he says. "It's only going to get greener from here on out."

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