Luck Stone incorporates sustainability into its new scale office.
When an increase in traffic created a serious safety issue at its main quarry entrance, Luck Stone decided to relocate the entrance of its Charlottesville Plant in Shadwell, Va., to the opposite end of the operation. The company leveraged this opportunity to incorporate green building practices into the construction of its new scale office.
The project supports the company’s commitment to evaluate all future projects to see if they should be built according to green building standards such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) or similar green building certification programs. The new 2,000-square-foot scale office is Luck Stone’s first construction project built to meet certification for green building, in this case, through EarthCraft Light Commercial specifications.
“Luck Stone has always been an environmentally conscious company,” says Mike White, senior project manager for Luck Stone’s Environmental Design & Development department. “Our thinking has always been to go beyond the compliance to the minimum requirements of governing agencies.”
When planning the scale office project, the team quickly realized that LEED certification — which is more suited for larger projects — was fairly restrictive in terms of the amount of fees and documentation required for such a comparatively small project. At the time, EarthCraft, a regional green building certification program that had originally focused on residential green building, had identified the small commercial segment as being a largely under-served niche and was in the process of developing standards for this segment.
“They were developing a program called EarthCraft Light Commercial,” White explains. “We were one of the pilot projects for that program, so we worked with them back and forth, helping them to evaluate their program criteria and designing our building to meet those criteria.”
EarthCraft staff visited the site several times, reviewed building plans, and offered construction suggestions throughout the process. “They were great to work with,” White says. “They provided lots of communication and seemed to care about what we were doing.” While Luck Stone’s scale office was the first EarthCraft-certified office building in Virginia, EarthCraft has since finalized its Light Commercial certification program, which is now available for small commercial building projects to pursue region wide.
Whether pursuing certification through LEED, EarthCraft, or another program, green building programs have a number of common elements that address both the practices and materials used during construction. For example, storage of building materials to prevent water exposure and recycling of construction materials play a role in the construction phase. During the materials selection process, durability and recyclability of materials are important criteria. Energy and water efficiency of the completed building is another common facet of green building.
“EarthCraft is really big on insulation and moisture and vapor protection,” White notes. “When you finish an EarthCraft building, you have an airtight building that doesn’t allow any vapor or moisture to leak in.”
Green building cost increases were very minor, he notes, because construction is planned efficiently. One example of this is the concept of designing a building in 2-foot increments to eliminate waste during framing. Operating costs also may be lower due to sustainability strategies such as the use of fluorescent and LED lighting in lieu of incandescent lighting, combined with lighting controls to maximize efficiency.
“You add all of these things together and you’re saving energy and materials, as well as improving the quality of life of the people who occupy the building,” White says. “A lot of these practices are ones that the construction industry should have been doing for years anyway. The green building programs are making us think through how to do things in the right way.”
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