Feature Article - September 2007
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Eco-Nomically Green

A Little Green Goes a Long Way

By Dana Carman

Silver and Green

The first public building to comply with the Green Building Act in the District of Columbia is the Lamond Recreation Center, a 14,650-square-foot public recreation facility maintained by the Department of Parks and Recreation in Washington, D.C.

Utilizing several sustainable elements, the building houses a unique element for which it earned points toward its LEED Silver certification—an education system on the greening of the facility. According to William Drewer, principal at Quinn Evans Architects and one of the architects on this project, "it's a treasure hunt for kids to search for the things done in sustainable ways" with several 18-inch panels in the facility leading the way.

A similar approach was taken at the Springwood Youth Center in Kent, Wash., which was the winner of the 2007 Editor's Choice Award in Recreation Management's Innovative Architecture & Design Awards contest, and recently was awarded LEED Silver certification. At Springwood, which is a part of the King County Housing Authority's Springwood Apartment Complex, children can take part in a "green" scavenger hunt to discover the importance of environmental responsibility.

"Designing a building for children allows us not only to create a safe place for children to grow and play, but also to teach them about their place in this world and instill in them a sense of environmental and social responsibility," said Dave Rutherford, a partner at ARC Architects, in a press release announcing the certification.

An important consideration in the design of the Lamond Recreation Center was the building's appearance in contrast to the rest of the neighborhood. In order to create a building that fit in with its neighbors, natural materials such as brick and copper were used. Significant amounts of recycled materials were also used in the construction of the building.

In Kent, the Springwood Youth Center makes use of exterior sunshades and energy-efficient light fixtures to reduce the building's heating load. The center uses 20 percent less energy compared to a baseline building of the same size.

Sophisticated mechanical systems within the Lamond Recreation Center cut down on energy consumption and costs considerably while energy-efficient light fixtures and motion sensors and solar-powered hot water heaters also contribute to multiple types of savings.

Several other elements contribute to the overall greenness of the building, but the major one, according to Drewer, is the water reclamation system, which utilizes a cistern underground that captures all the rainwater, filters it, and recycles it back into the water system where it's reused in the toilets and urinals. Additionally, the site contains a retention pond, which is a requirement of the District, to retain and filter the overflow before it makes it back into D.C.'s storm water system.

Water reduction also played a major role at the Springwood Youth Center. Landscaping features and native and drought-tolerant species of plants outside, and low-flow toilets and showerheads and waterless urinals inside help to reduce the building's potable water use by nearly 50 percent.

Both the Lamond and the Springwood Center show how a recreational facility can take advantage of green design features to reduce operating costs and help the environment—all while meeting the needs of the local community.