It’s not easy being green: But Oryana and BATA are taking the LEED

TRAVERSE CITY – Two major "green built" commercial projects-the new Bay Area Transportation Authority (BATA) transfer station and Oryana Natural Foods Market-are leading the way for more environmentally-friendly construction in northern Michigan.

If BATA officials decide to pursue LEED certification-the national standard for developing high performance, sustainable buildings using green building practices-it will be Traverse City's first commercial building with that recognition when it opens on June 5.

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) created the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) to define "green building," promote green competition, reward leadership in the industry, and to change the building market.

Executive director Joe DeKoning said the BATA Board of Directors has approved the initial steps toward achieving LEED certification in terms of bid approvals for the project. As it gets more financial information from its general contractor, Grand Traverse Construction, it will make a decision on pursuing the certification. Whether it does or not, DeKoning emphasized it will be a "green building."

Some of the highlights of the project, according to primary architect Ray Kendra of Clark Walter Sirrine Architects in Traverse City, include construction waste management with a goal of diverting at least 50 percent of waste from the landfill; use of regional building materials (concrete block and brick) for the exterior walls; use of low-emitting (toxic) paint and carpet; energy efficient design; and water use reduction.

"It challenges people's perception of a bus station," said Kendra.

According to Thomas Hirsch of Harmony Home Construction and a member of Oryana's design team, Oryana has registered the project with the USGBC and will pursue LEED certification. The up-front planning/designing costs can be higher than with a non-green building project, said Hirsch. However, the financial investments are designed to pay-off down the road.

"We're finding, and the literature is beginning to acknowledge this, that the cradle-to-cradle or life-cycle costs of these buildings are lower," he said. The Oryana expansion project, which will double the store's retail space, is quite a bit behind the original construction timeline, said store manager Bob Struthers. Originally slated for summer completion, the estimated completion date is now next winter.

Oryana's green design features include construction waste management like the BATA project; use of local, regional, and minimally toxic materials where possible; a foundation wall made of a waste wood and clay product that is completely recyclable; a wall system that uses clay and straw as in-fill between steel columns; and storm water collection for irrigation. BN