'Green' construction becomes a selling point
The skyline-altering building being constructed at 222. S. Main St. in downtown Salt Lake City isn't your average energy-guzzling office tower. It's being constructed as a "green" building, designed to be easy on the environment.
There's the high-efficiency heating and cooling system, the lighting features that use less electricity and the use of a host of recycled materials. Developer Hamilton Partners is now working on gaining Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certification, for the building, which underscores the structure's environmentally friendly features.
It doesn't matter whether the project involves an office building, hotel, condominium or government office. More and more new buildings are being built to be "green" and use less water, electricity and other resources.
The public is invited to learn more about green architecture at the Salt Lake Sustainable Building Conference on April 29 at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center in West Valley City.
"People are becoming more aware of the environment and tenants are really starting to ask for these buildings," said Don Billings, director of development and construction for Hamilton Partners, which late last year broke ground for the 222 S. Main St. project, which is scheduled for completion in late 2009. Going green on the multi-tenant building, he says, "comes at a cost, but you get part of that back in reduced energy costs."
To gain certification in LEED, buildings must meet certain criteria. Beyond a basic LEED certification, developers can seek the more involved silver, gold and platinum LEED status.
Billings said demand for LEED-certified buildings is expected to climb in the coming years and buildings that aren't particularly energy efficient may be at a disadvantage in terms of finding tenants.
Myron Willson, director of sustainable design for MHTN Architects in Salt Lake City, an organizing sponsor of the conference, said the easiest and most cost-effective way to go green is to start at the design phase. Remodeling a building with features such as more natural lighting can be more expensive, he said, but it too can yield significant energy cost savings.
MHTN should know: It employed green features when it remodeled its own offices, including using recycled materials and making the building more energy-efficient.
Willson said a green building can slash energy costs by one-third or more.
Such savings can be a draw not only to office tenants but condo dwellers. That's why developers such as Howa Capital have designed commercial and residential projects with LEED certification in mind. Howa is developing a mixed-use project near downtown called Marmalade, with retail, office and residential space designed to be energy-efficient and environmentally friendly.
Prospective condo buyers are interested in energy-savings appliances, said Dru Damico of Howa Construction, but beyond simply money savings, people also are demanding "sustainable" materials such as bamboo flooring, because it is more easily renewable than wood. Others want less toxic paints and other materials. Many want water-saving features.
"A lot of [the green movement] started in the government and commercial sector because large buildings use so much energy," said Luanne Valentin, with Aqua Engineering, a Bountiful civil engineering company and an organizer of the conference. "Now, more people are wanting to be responsible with their use of energy. Whether they are remodeling or building, many are looking more at energy saving and more environmentally friendly options."
Learn about building green
Salt Lake Sustainable Building Conference on "green" construction, design and engineering:
* WHEN: April 29, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
* WHERE: Utah Cultural Celebration Center, 1355 W. 3100 South, West Valley City.
* COST: Varies, but least expensive option is $90.
* REGISTRATION: Call 801-292-3352 or visit http://www.saltlakesbc.com.