Scott Woosley, executive director of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), today announced MSHDA has been awarded LEED'' Silver certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The LEED rating system is the foremost program for buildings, homes and communities that are designed, constructed, maintained and operated for improved environmental and human health performance.
MSHDA is the first State of Michigan agency to achieve LEED status for its 735 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing office. It's a 105,500-square-foot, four-story rented building that on any given day has about 270 employees.
"This achievement shows our commitment to the goal of building a healthy, sustainable future," Woosley said. "The relatively small, incremental changes we have implemented have resulted in big benefits, including a healthier and more energy efficient building, and long-term cost savings. We believe these are best practices that can and should be replicated on MSHDA-funded projects whenever possible."
Peter Hughes, LEED-accredited sustainable development specialist in MSHDA's Downtown and Community Services Division, spearheaded the 18-month effort, aided by facility and office services staff, including Chris Hudson, Keith Tripp and Deanna Anderson. Receiving the green light from MRT Management staff, rental property managers of the MSHDA building, was instrumental in getting the project off the ground.
"We took this on because we wanted to practice what we were preaching about building energy efficient, durable housing for the people we are here to serve," Hughes said. "It was hard for me to look at a developer and say, 'You should take on these cost premiums,' because when I looked around our own 'house' I saw that we didn't have single stream recycling, energy efficient light fixtures or efficient water usage. Now, we can say to developers, 'Look, we did it, under budget, on time, and it shouldn't be that complicated for you to do it, too.'"
MSHDA managers approved the $85,500 budget, based on the project funding itself in 4-1/2 years. That included consulting costs, lighting and water fixture changes, new landscaping and changing policies and procedures and doing some fine-tuning based on an energy audit.
"Everyone was pleasantly surprised when we ended up with more savings than anticipated at a lower cost," Hughes said.
Actual project costs came in at $59,431, a 30 percent savings. While 10 percent energy savings and 15 percent water savings were projected, the savings came in at 10 percent and 21 percent, respectively. The end result is savings of $17,000 a year, meaning the project will be paid off in 3-1/2 years.
Hughes said he enjoyed bird-dogging the project, but lauded consultant Gavin Gardi of The Christman Company and G2 Consulting, Inc., for helping pave the way in achieving the LEED v4 Beta Program objectives and the extra help they got from the USGBC for participating in the more rigorous pilot program. The MSHDA project was the second LEED v4 O+M certified in the world.
"MSHDA is committed to sustainable, healthy buildings, so as LEED projects go, this was not a heavy lift," Gardi said. "MSHDA had the team to drive and nurture the project along. I worked in tandem with them to offer a complete range of experience-based professional services from reviews, team assignments, evaluation, tracking and documentation until the project received certification."
Here are just some of the project highlights:
- Less irrigation and watering of landscaping resulted in a 36 percent reduction in the use of potable water
- Reduced indoor water and sewage usage by 21 percent with retrofits for plumbing faucets and flush valves
- Diverted 19,500 pounds of metal, plastic and glass , 144,300 pounds of paper and 15,200 pounds of cardboard from the landfill for a total diversion rate of 86 percent
- Heat pump-based HVAC and lighting systems are well maintained and employ efficient equipment and technologies resulting in an Energy Star score of 84 (on a 100-point scale)
- Switched to low mercury, long life lamps that are 22 percent more energy efficient
- Sustainable carpeting and low volatile organic compounds (VOC) adhesives were used in flooring upgrade
- A green housekeeping program is used to protect the health of staff and to not cause harm to the environment
"MSHDA's LEED certification demonstrates tremendous green building leadership," said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair of the U.S. Green Building Council. "The urgency of USGBC's mission has challenged the industry to move faster and reach further than ever before, and MSHDA serves as a prime example with just how much we can accomplish."
Hughes said another satisfying aspect of the certification process has been seeing a significant culture shift at MSHDA, in the way people go about doing things and wanting to be green on a daily basis.
"When I looked at the various certification tracts that LEED offered, I knew we were never going to build a brand new office that would be solar paneled, all glass so no one needs lights which would be sunlit and amazing. But I thought, wouldn't it be even more satisfying to take an existing building and make it into something better. I'm proud to say we achieved that."
For those interested in learning more about MSHDA's LEED certification, Hughes offers tours of the building. To schedule a tour, call 517.373.3980.
The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) provides financial and technical assistance through public and private partnerships to create and preserve decent, affordable housing for low- and moderate-income residents and to engage in community economic development activities to revitalize urban and rural communities.*
*MSHDA's loans and operating expenses are financed through the sale of tax-exempt and taxable bonds as well as notes to private investors, not from state tax revenues. Proceeds are loaned at below-market interest rates to developers of rental housing, and help fund mortgages and home improvement loans. MSHDA also administers several federal housing programs.