Arena's Green Focus is Welcome News

Dec 16 , 2008

By Rick
The Ville Voice

While construction on what seems to be every project in town is at a standstill, it’s kind of amazing that the downtown arena just keeps rolling along. At the Arena Authority’s monthly meeting yesterday, there was plenty of buzz about efforts to add “green” features such as low-water toilets and high-efficiency heating and cooling.

Though officials said the cost of official green certification could add $3 million to the project’s cost, Jim Host wisely said the construction would move forward using green building principles and decide later whether or not it’s worth it to get officially certified by the U.S. Green Building Council.

This is all interesting, but I wondered what the city’s resident “green guru” had to say about the plan. Gill Holland is about to finish up construction on his own Green Building on Market Street, and knows better than anyone around here what it takes and how much it can cost to be “green certified.” Here’s Gill’s response to my question about the arena:

I want to encourage of all moves towards sustainable, green building, and applaud this move on the part of the arena developers to go green.

There has been such a huge and rapid increase in awareness of Green Building just in the last couple of years since the Arena was first announced that it only makes sense that any developer from any major project impacting the city and state should consider sourcing local, rapidly renewable building products, reducing the carbon and water footprints of both the construction process and the final building, not using paints with Volatile Organic Compounds, etc and having the building be part of the solution to global warming and not just part of the problem.

The reality is that ten years from now, there is a significant chance that folks will not want to patronize a building that is NOT green.  Green building is the modern way to build now in the 21st century, and I, as a citizen, want to be proud of this building 20 years from now, and don’t want it to be one of the last of the buildings made using 20th century building techniques. There are not that many arenas being built every year in the country and as one of the first in this century our arena could and should be a model for the nation.

So even if the developers are coming a little late to the green game and didn’t reuse and recycle everything from the building that was demolished (which is part of building green too), I really want to urge them to do as much green as they can.  And as someone who knows the paperwork and ensuant cost increase for dealing with the LEED process, I think it is ok to use the LEED outline for green building and even if it turns out not to be worth dealing with the paperwork, that would be ok  (I would rather spend the extra 2 or 3 million on the green building itself than the certification process and paperwork).

So the arena project managers seem to be going about this the right way — they’re using green building principles in construction, but aren’t sure whether the administrative costs of official certification is worth it. So that decision can wait.

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