Hunzinger among businesses thinking about environment, and savings
It was a relatively small project: renovating 5,300 square feet inside Hunzinger Construction's Brookfield headquarters to add more work stations and replace the heating and ventilation system. But Hunzinger focused on adding a slew of environmentally friendly features, from chairs and carpets made with recycled materials to low-flush toilets and waterless urinals, sensor-operated lighting, skylights and a new, high-efficient HVAC system.
By one measure, going green added 13% to the project cost, which totaled $336,000.
But the firm saved thousands of dollars by reusing building materials and avoiding other costly upgrades in the 2006 project, said Phil Vetterkind, a Hunzinger estimator. By that measure, green elements added about 5% in costs.
Either way, Hunzinger is pleased with its efforts, which saved more than 19,000 gallons of water in its first year, a 30% reduction in use.
It also earned the firm a designation as a green building, scoring the state's first gold certification for a commercial interior renovation project, awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED program. It was the 12th such gold rating in the nation for that category. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
Hunzinger now is seeking the highest LEED rating – platinum – for its renovation of an adjacent building that houses the company's training center.
Hunzinger is one of an increasing number of Waukesha County businesses that are trying to save money and enhance building value by conserving energy.
"It's unbelievable how much it's exploding," Vetterkind said. "It's such a boon."
GE Healthcare added solar panels to its Pewaukee facility in 2007, becoming the state's largest producer of solar power.
Kohl's Corp. plans to take over that title after installing solar panels later this year at its Sussex and Waukesha stores, as well as other stores nationwide. The panels at the two Waukesha County stores are expected to generate about 20% of the power needed to operate them.
American Family Insurance Co. added green elements when it built a $14.5 million, 75,000-square-foot office along I-94 in Pewaukee in 2006.
Rain gardens, oversized detention ponds, a high-efficient HVAC system, underground parking and lots of windows for natural light were incorporated into the design.
Greener in Waukesha Green buildings are becoming so much in vogue that when a developer floats a project past Waukesha Mayor Larry Nelson, he asks about green features, City Planner Mike Hoeft said.
The city, however, does not require such elements. One alderman has asked the Plan Commission to consider whether some green standards should be required.
Pro Health Care is proposing to add extra natural lighting and paint its roof white instead of black to reflect sunlight on a new rehabilitation hospital in the city, Hoeft said.
Developers proposing a major retail center with Target and Lowe's stores along Sunset Drive are contemplating environmentally friendly features.
A Wal-Mart store that had been proposed near Les Paul Parkway and West Ave. but appears to be a dead project had planned to install enough skylights that interior lighting would go on only if sensors detected there wasn't enough sunlight, Hoeft said.
"I remember when I was in college in Madison in the '70s, ecology was the big buzz word back then, the environmentally friendly way of doing things," Hoeft said. "Now it's back."
Even City Hall is jumping on the bandwagon.
Hoeft said the city added sensor-operated sinks and toilets and motion-sensitive light switches in some City Hall offices. The lights go off after a while if there is no movement.
Project in Brookfield In Brookfield, a developer is proposing myriad green features on a project that nonetheless faces neighborhood opposition for its sheer size and height.
First-time developer Bill Hoeg is seeking permission to construct a 127,000-square-foot office building, dubbed Fountain Brook Crossing, that would be 97 feet tall at its highest peak.
The building, on a 2-acre site, would have a rooftop garden, a four-story atrium with natural lighting, supplemental geothermal heating and cooling, low-water restrooms and underground parking.
It would be at the northeast corner of the high-profile intersection of Moorland Road and Greenfield Ave., dividing Brookfield and New Berlin.
Hoeg said that some power conservation will be limited because planned dental and medical tenants in the building will need "some pretty high-energy uses" to operate equipment.
While conserving water in the restrooms, the building will feature a four-story waterfall inside the atrium, and numerous other small waterfalls would ring the building's exterior for aesthetics.
"We're obviously not going to be pumping fresh water through those systems," Hoeg said.
He said a more sustainable building probably would retain its value longer and save on energy, offsetting the possible upfront 10% increase in project costs.
Cost analysis Other experts say a green building generally adds 1% to 3% to costs. It saves in long-term operation and maintenance, Hunzinger's Vetterkind said. We Energies also gives rebates for green efforts.
One thing that contractors can do to be more environmentally friendly – without adding any pricey building extras – is to recycle construction waste, said Frank Falsetti, who works in Hunzinger's tenant improvement division.
The company recycled 89% of its waste from the headquarters renovation, diverting about 4.6 tons of waste from landfills.
Wisconsin remains behind the curve on that effort, because landfill fees remain relatively low compared with high costs in states such as California, where landfill space is scarce, Vetterkind said.
Hunzinger officials say they will continue to search for green savings for their clients.
"It's what everybody's talking about," Vetterkind said.
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