Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design is an internationally recognized green building certification system that utilizes third-party verification to determine a building has been designed and built using energy efficient techniques, including water efficiency, carbon dioxide emissions reduction, improved indoor air quality, and with a consideration of resources and their impacts.
According to USGBC, “LEED-certified buildings are designed to: lower operating costs and increase asset value; reduce waste sent to landfills; conserve energy and water; be healthier and safer for occupants; reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions; qualify for tax rebates, zoning allowances and other incentives…; and demonstrate an owner’s commitment to environmental stewardship and social responsibility.”
Based on a 100-point system, a LEED building may earn one of four certification levels – certified (40-49), silver (50-59), gold (60-79) or platinum (80 and above) – and bonus points may be awarded for innovation in design.
“Gold is probably a slam dunk, but I think we’re just points away from platinum” says architect Peter Sante, of what level of certification this LEED house may earn. He and his team at Sante Architects designed the home, which was built by BONE Construction. “I’m very excited to see how this house performs,” he adds, explaining that they’re expecting to get the final word on the LEED rating in January.
This was Sante’s first LEED project, though he has encouraged several past clients to pursue LEED certification. For the home owners at 629 E. Colorado, what started as a mudroom/garage addition to an existing structure turned into an entirely new house, with the old house being moved to another location in the Boulders subdivision in Mountain Village. (“We received innovation points for recycling the house,” notes Sante.)
“From what I understand, the Town of Telluride’s Green Building codes amount to a basic LEED certification,” says Sante, so it wasn’t tough selling the owners on the LEED opportunity. As the project advanced and the owners agreed to things like low-flow toilets/showerheads and a LEED-approved gas fireplace, they suddenly found themselves just points away from platinum certification.
LEED-ING THE WAY
So just what goes into a platinum-LEED certified building? In this case, triple-glazed casement windows, reclaimed Douglas fir trim, a Structural Insulated Panel (SIPs) roof, bamboo and concrete flooring, low-flow fixtures, slate tiles from Colorado, Denver- produced concrete counter tops, Telluride-quarried stone, Trex decking, a Heat Recovery Ventilator unit with HEPA filter, 90-percent recycled wood cabinet boxes, radiant in-floor heat, jute carpet padding, low VOC paint, compact fluorescent light fixtures, and ceiling fans. And that’s just the short list.
“A big part of the home’s performance involves the longevity of the materials, and whether or not they can withstand their environment,” Sante emphasizes.
While every aspect of the house was considered in terms of LEED recommendations, the design itself is thoughtful and appealing, from the gorgeous green glass bathroom tiles in the master bath to the clever use of metal-grate decking over the below-garden-level windows to let in natural light. Sante convinced the owners to reverse the floor plan from the original house, putting the kitchen and living room on the top floor and the bedrooms on the bottom floors to allow as much light as possible into the main living space – while also taking in the views.
The LEED certification process is very “front-loaded,” says Sante, and “it’s been a lot more work than we’d imagined. But it was a process of education for us and we set a high bar going in.”
He credits BONE Construction, structural engineer Joe Crilly, LEED AP designer Ryan Enschede and LEED rater Mike Frisoni, among others, for helping his firm achieve its first LEED certified project.
Would Sante do it again? “Absolutely,” he says. “I would love to do more. I hope to find that future clients have an interest in LEED and want a cleaner environment.”
For more information on LEED, go to www.usgbc.org. Visit Sante Architects at www.santearchitects.com.
(Photos by Brett Schreckengost)