Vets ponder going 'green'
Architects present environmentally friendly plans for building
In the weeks leading up to a full blown design plan for the renovated Veterans Memorial Building in downtown Danville, members of the committee working on the redesign were given several options designed to make the revamped structure more energy efficient and "green" friendly.
Last Monday, members of the Veterans Building Steering Committee heard from architectural consultants ARG regarding the modifications that could be built into the structure.
ARG Senior Associate Deborah Cooper led the discussion, explaining that the idea was for the renovation to incorporate enough green elements to allow the building to be certified through the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.
LEED is an internationally recognized certification system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council that measures how well a building performs across several different strata including Energy Savings, Water Efficiency, Carbon Emission Reduction and Stewardship of Resources.
There are four levels of certification: platinum, gold, silver and standard. Cooper suggested methods by which the building could receive the silver rating through additions to the fledgling plan.
She explained to the committee that each area of the building is examined and points are awarded for the level of green initiatives employed. The point total determines the level of certification and ARG is aiming for silver.
"Why are we going for silver? Why not gold or platinum?" asked committee member Bob Combs.
"It has more to do with costs," Cooper responded. "We've found when working with a historic building that gold or platinum are doable but it is costly."
"When we are integrating sustainability in historic buildings we try to do it without compromising their character," she added.
Some basic areas where the building will be able to get points are:
* Installation of low flow toilets and sinks
* Water efficient landscaping
* Reduction of light pollution
* Proximity to public transportation
Cooper said they could also look at alternative power supplies such as solar panels and wind systems. Natural ventilation is also a possibility, although it would have to be supplemented by an air conditioning system during the hottest months of summer.
A LEED engineer working with ARG spoke briefly regarding heating and cooling for the structure. Pius Kao of Affiliated Engineers talked about such elements as geothermal cooling and a European design called Chilled Beam cooling.
Mayor Newell Arnerich, who heads the committee, expressed appreciation for the wide range of choices but said that some of the more exotic suggestions would not work on a structure the size of the Vets Hall. Arnerich added that he appreciated the enthusiasm and creativity coming forth but he wanted to make sure the architects are able to incorporate the green plans without taking away from the charm of the building.
"What we're looking for here are opportunities that are cost effective but that also fit with the program and the building," Arnerich said. "These systems all need to be integrated in and not look like a high tech building. We want this building to be designed so that people are instantly, instantly in love with it."
ARG will now take the ideas generated from the LEED discussion and begin incorporating them into the plans currently taking shape. Committee members are expected to get their first look at the new schematics at their May 11 meeting.
The next meeting of the Veterans Building Steering Committee will take place at 6:30 p.m., Monday, May 11, at the Town Meeting Hall, 201 Front St., Danville. Meetings are open to the public.