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Park district’s building project lauded for sustainability and green practices

The term “retrofitting” has become common in a world in which older buildings are being remodeled and rehabbed in a way that brings more “green” into them to conserve energy or water.

These building makeovers could occur in residential or commercial areas, but also for older buildings that become recreational or office centers used by park districts and cities.

But even if new construction unfolds on the site of an existing building, it can be done with much of the material from that existing building and incorporate numerous “green” facets into the process.

One such building used by the Fox Valley Park District in Aurora, Ill., has been honored for its environmentally friendly practices.

The Conservation Foundation presented the park district with the 2011 Sustainable Development Award in honor of its new Cole Center building.

The district had consolidated all of its park, maintenance and administration operations into the Cole Center building in the fall, but completed numerous sustainable upgrades and modifications prior to the consolidation.

“This award goes to a business or agency that best demonstrates environmentally friendly practices in its development projects,” said Brook McDonald, president and CEO of The Conservation Foundation. “With all of its sustainable features, the Cole Center is model structure that meets or exceeds the highest environmental standards.”

The Fox Valley Park District reports that the Cole Center has more than 100 environmentally friendly highlights – such as a rainwater harvesting system for vehicle washing, LED lights that use 75 percent less electricity than fluorescents and parking lots built with permeable pavers. By developing the center from an existing building, the park district was able to reduce its carbon footprint by reusing, restoring, recycling and reinvesting.

Other highlights of the building include:

*Contractors were required to divert waste from landfills and maximize recycling of construction and demolition debris.

* Steel stairs, acoustical wall panels and concrete retaining wall blocks were salvaged from the existing building and saved for reuse in new construction.

* Many products specified for use in the Cole Center construction contain high levels of either pre-consumer or post-consumer recycled material content, such as concrete, structural steel, ceramic tile, carpet tile and cast stone.

* Wood-based products were manufactured using sustainably harvested wood materials, not from old-growth timber.

* Office areas have multi-level lighting to allow at least 50 percent light reduction while maintaining uniform lighting levels throughout the building.

* The facility design is based upon the natural and native elements of the nearby Fox River shoreline, featuring stone, wood, water and heavy timber.

* Landscaping that does not require permanent irrigation systems.

* An energy-efficient, direct-fired heating system for a large garage area, and a high-efficiency water heater.


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