Feature Article - September 2009
Find a printable version here

Green Up

Trends in Eco-Friendly Facility Design

By Jessica Royer Ocken

Inspiring Example:
Athletics and Events Center for Ithaca College, Ithaca, N.Y.

"We used about every strategy we know on this building," said Moody Nolan's Troy Sherrard about the new recreation facility currently being constructed for Ithaca College. He's particularly proud of the way they've tackled the common recreation facility conundrum of how to manage an oversized space and provide the air-handling mechanics needed for its maximum use, like graduation or another special event. For this facility, the answer is a dramatically eye-catching (and highly functional) ventilation tower. More than just a striking feature of the building's entry façade, the solid tower will channel hot air like a stack, while cool air is brought in through louvers. This effect will allow the field house to condition only the bottom 20 feet of the space—where the activities and those watching them will be found. This will reduce the building's cooling requirements by more than half.

The materials you select will also contribute to the building's sustainability. "Typically our [materials] specifications, for all of our projects, are on the more environmental side," said Alan Harmon, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP, a project manager with the Recreation and Sports Studio at Marmon Mok. "Low-VOC paints are not just for LEED points, they're better for us, for the contractor, and the end user…. We also use pervious pavers around the site, which allows drainage from the building to avoid overflow." Rather than using the maple flooring traditionally found on basketball courts, Marmon Mok is now considering sustainably harvested, rapidly renewable bamboo flooring that meets the German rating performance standards for ball bounce. "One of greatest things about a product like that, in a recreation center with a couple of basketball courts, that's a large square footage," Harmon said. When an office opts for bamboo countertops, they get the satisfaction of having made a good decision, but the actual environmental impact is fairly small. Changing the flooring in a rec center, however, yields a significant result.

Choose materials with a high recycled content for areas like weight room flooring and jogging tracks, suggested Kocher. Look for lockers made of recycled materials—or use recycled lockers. Recycled or partially recycled ceiling tiles, steel, carpet and linoleum are also possibilities. Or choose wood that's been harvested according to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards. (See www.fsc.org for details.)