Facility Profile - February 2009
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Metal of Honor

Carbondale Recreation & Community Center in Carbondale, Colo.

By Kelli Anderson


o for the gold" may be the inspiration behind great achievement for most, but for the community of Carbondale, Colo., the goal for excellence has gone one step further—platinum. The Carbondale Recreation and Community Center recently learned that total points earned for energy-efficient designs in their newly constructed facility garnered a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certification.

This is a tremendous accomplishment, especially given that neither LEED Platinum nor Gold were the original goal for this modest community of 6,000.

"It wasn't our original intent," said Jeff Jackel, recreation director of the facility. "We just wanted LEED certification—not even silver or gold, let alone platinum."

According to Jackel, the project's pursuit of environmental excellence began with a simple suggestion from a design steering committee member who happened to be an energy-efficiency design manager familiar with the requirements.

By the time the project reached completion three years later, the community was proud to open a 14,500-square-foot facility that not only met the community's recreational needs, but that also boasts a near-zero carbon footprint.

The crown jewel of the project, a large iconic photovoltaic (PV) solar-paneled roof, provides two-thirds of the facility's energy needs alone. Combined with the additional energy savings of insulation, occupancy sensors, daylighting controls and high-performance glazing, electricity consumption has been reduced by 54 percent.

With hindsight's 20/20 vision, Jackel and his colleagues, John Baker, AIA and chief architect of J.R. Baker Architects Inc. of Carbondale and Eric Brendlinger, the recreation facility's manager, conclude that the overwhelming success of the project can be attributed to at least one critical element—a team-build approach.

"We feel that professional teamwork and open communication between all design and construction team members was key to the overall success of the project," Baker explained. "It is a process that will help reduce the possibility of construction change orders and cost overruns."

With the final project coming under budget, ahead of schedule and with award-winning accolades, Baker clearly knows of what he speaks.

However, having knowledgeable players matters, too—especially when it comes to going "green." Hiring a consultant is a must, but even before taking that necessary step, Jackel suggests doing your homework.

"I recommend that any consideration—before hiring a consultant—is get on the USGBC Web site to see the checklist for credits that you might get to give an idea of whether or not to pursue LEED," he said. "Don't be afraid of the LEED process. If you don't have that knowledge, someone in your community does and if you have to spend a few bucks to find out, it's money well spent."

And while fear of the unknown may be an obstacle for some, for many, it is the fear of high costs.

"The biggest concern for most is costs associated with LEED certification," Jackel said of the industry. "There's a rush to judgment that it's too costly. If they would just go and get on the Web site and see the checklist—even if not for LEED certification—they can see what to pursue that's green energy efficient. But if they can get enough points, they can hire a consultant to help look at the costs."