Date: Apr 22, 2012;
Source: Lima News, Section: Going Green 20 12; Page: G 14
By BETH L. JOKINEN email@example.com 419-993-2093
Touchstone Leading Green Building Efforts
LIMA - Many of the walls are Bulldog orange, but a closer look at the new Elida High School oozes with "green." A chilled-beam system reduces the need for large air handlers. A rain water retention system offsets new water usage. A controlled lighting system saves energy, and concrete parking lots reduce the environmental heat load.
"Energy usage at Elida was a big focus," said Bruce Perry, Director of Business Development at Touchstone CPM. "Elida Local Schools saw the value in it. They saw the return on it and the positive things it could do for the building."
Elida's New 9-12 High School building, which opened last August, is on its way to earning LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification, one of the first in the state. It is one of 23 Touchstone buildings that have completed certification or are in process.
Included is a massive project with Dayton schools, three ongoing projects with Findlay City Schools and a middle school project in Fremont that is working to become a LEED Platinum project. It would be a first for Touchstone and one of just a few in Ohio.
"We are finding it is important to a lot of the owners. It is important to a lot of the younger generation, so we think it is just natural to try to help the community and the environment," Perry said. "The market we are in has given us this opportunity to be on the front of it and we are willing to continue the efforts."
Touchstone CPM, a subsidiary of Tuttle Services, got its big push into doing green building projects when the Ohio School Facilities Commission adopted its green building program a few years ago. School projects, partly funded by the state, must be built to a minimum of LEED Silver standards.
Nine staff members have been educated and have taken exams to be LEED Accredited Professionals. Tuttle's office building, rebuilt after a fire in 2008, is also LEED Gold certified. The building reduced energy usage by 140,579 kilowatt-hours. It reduced carbon dioxide emissions by120.3 tons. Tuttle recently received recognition from American Electric Power for being an energy efficient leader in the business industry.
For a project to become LEED certified, it must go through a lengthy checklist, where points are awarded for certain green efforts. Those efforts cover a wide range of things, including building on a site that already had a building on it. "You are saving green land because of re-utilizing an existing building site," Perry said, adding that it is not always an achievable point.
Companies like Touchstone have to provide information to prove the project is green. There are also air quality, lighting and other tests done after a building is occupied. It is a long process. Elida expects to get its results in the next six months.
Some pints, he said, are geared toward connectivity to the community. A building located near a grocery store or pharmacy might encourage people to walk or drive, cutting down on the emissions of fuel. The bulk of points, Perry said, involves energy use and water consumption. Automated sink fixtures and waterless urinals are examples.
"It pushes the design team and construction team to build the building to use the least amount of electricity, gas and water," he said.
With any new construction project, there is waste material, including the demolition of an old building and scrap materials from the building process. The LEED goal is to divert 75 percent of that material from a landfill into a recycling center. Now, dumpsters are set up for various materials, Perry saying the recycling process has become just a natural part of the construction process.
Building a sustainable facility is a focus of a lot of owners, especially if there is an operational pay back, Perry said. While it might mean a small investment up front, schools and other building owners usually save money in the long run. Elida schools is counting on it.
"The long-term benefit is we know energy prices are going to continue to go up, but with what we put into this building, we should be able to stay on the low side of operating the building," Superintendent Don Diglia said.
Perry adds that research shows students in classrooms with things such as good quality day lighting and good air ventilation are more attentive and do better academically.
The green movement continues to evolve. Perry thinks the products construction companies use will continue to evolve as manufacturers try to adapt to what people want. There is also a thrust, he said, toward more environmentally-friendly cleaning supplies.
Building green is a conscious thing, Perry said. While it is extra work, it is not exceptional or out of the ordinary. In fact, it is becoming easier. "Once the processes are in place, it just happens," Perry said. "It is more of a natural focus .... It is more of a process you set in place at the beginning and then it just carries through. A lot of people are getting very accustomed to it in the construction field."