Kalkaska dentist opens village’s first LEED building

KALKASKA – A Kalkaska dental practice is putting a little bite into its marketing efforts, becoming the village's first certified "green" building.

Stobert Dental has been awarded the U.S. Green Building Council's Silver Certification for leadership in energy and environmental design.

Troy Stobert tapped CWS Architects for the project after considering several architects.

"When we met with Ray Kendra at CWS, we felt very comfortable," he said. "He was also very knowledgeable about building green, having worked on the design and construction of the BATA terminal, which was the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified green building in northern Michigan," explained Stobert.

The office construction was completed about a year ago and is located on the old mill pond, the former location of Kalkaska's village offices.

"When we chose a building location along a particularly scenic portion of the Boardman River watershed, we felt it was imperative that we set stringent guidelines for how we were going to minimize our impact on the site," said Stobert. "We considered this both in design, construction and use of this facility."

Architect Ray Kendra, manager of the Stobert project, incorporated natural lighting, ventilation, scenic views, geothermal heating, water-conserving fixtures and low-emitting finishes.

"We also used a pre-fab system which is energy-efficient, and produces no cutting or waste," explained Kendra. "Any construction waste we did have in the building process was reduced by 75 percent, as we recycled material like concrete."

The Stobert Dental building was constructed using half log exteriors and rough stone highlights. Many of the building materials were sourced within a local radius.

"We incorporated regional material like Upper Peninsula white cedar for the siding and trim," said Kendra. "The use of regional material is very important to us and it also saves on shipping costs."

In order for a building to be certified "green," the U.S. Green Building Council uses a six-month process to determine if the building and construction is high performing, sustainable and geared toward reducing its carbon footprint.

"It was a difficult process to achieve the honor, but we feel the benefits which this award represents will always be well worth the effort," said Stobert.

Business owners and builders thinking of going green might be scared of the costs associated with the process. Kendra says that as people become more environmentally-conscious, prices for green building products are going to go down.

"Everything green is beginning to go mainstream and there is so much variety that's becoming available," Kendra said. "There is a five to 10 percent premium right now, but everyone is so interested nowadays that manufacturers are beginning to respond."

Stobert says the initial costs of making his practice environmentally-friendly were not so friendly to his bottom line, but it was all worth it in the end.

"The cost benefit of something like geo-thermal heating and cooling is realized over the life of the unit in operating costs which are much less than their conventional counterparts," said Stobert. "This is the argument I present when discussing building green with someone whose decisions are not so heavily influenced by a desire to protect the environment. For those who have made that a priority, the benefits of building green far exceed the financial costs." BN