Facility Profile - February 2009
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Metal of Honor

Carbondale Recreation & Community Center in Carbondale, Colo.

By Kelli Anderson

In the case of Carbondale, pursuing certification did require expanding the original budget. However, thanks to good consulting, additional funding from private foundations, grants, trusts and local business made up the difference.

But whether or not certification is the ultimate goal, energy-efficient design elements are not only financially smart in the long run, but they can also attract clients. "From the south side it all looks solar and always gets attention," Brendlinger said of the facility's dramatic PV roof. "They are also so impressed with the daylighting. Seventy-five percent of the building has daylight."

With eight skylights in the multi-use gymnasium, one in the lobby, and the cardio space surrounded with windows revealing the stunning surrounding landscape views, Brendlinger described the space as bright and happy, making people want to be there.

"The gymnasium gets the most comments about daylighting," he continued. "People are so happy to be shooting baskets without any electrical lights—that's virtually unheard of. Sometimes they'll even say they don't know why they're feeling so good, but I know it's the daylighting."

Maximizing available daylight and views with proper orientation was a key element in the Carbondale facility design. Combined with exterior window awnings, high-performance glazing and automatic photocell-based lighting controls, the facility's overall attention to lighting has made it a financial winner as well.

Other cost-reducing features include a commitment to specifying and using only low-VOC (volatile organic compound) materials, such as their gymnasium flooring, to improve air quality and, of course, many water-conserving strategies.

"Water has become one of our most valuable resources and is becoming more scarce due to increased development and global warming," Baker said. "The recreation center has employed several water-saving strategies to promote water conservation."

While he conceded that many of the strategies are no longer new, they are effective, and that's what counts. Low-flow urinals, lavatories and showers, use of water-conserving landscape plants, and a storm-water runoff system are just a few of the elements that have reduced the project's total water usage by 56 percent.

In the end, whether it's gold or platinum, the environment, the community or just the bottom line, it's safe to say everyone's a winner.

"It surpassed everyone's expectations for sustainability, functionality and aesthetics," Baker concluded. "Everyone who uses the building can sense the inherent energy of its green design. They see the solar panels when they drive up, they smell the fresh air and enjoy the great outdoor views while they exercise indoors in natural daylight and they relax in a sustainable outdoor park. Every aspect came out better than we expected."


Carbondale Recreation & Community Center:

J.R. Baker Architects Inc.: www.jrbakerarchitects.com

Gerflor Sports Flooring: www.gerflortaraflex.com