The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) developed the LEED Green Building Rating System as a voluntary, consensus-based national rating system for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) addresses all building types and emphasizes state-of-the-art strategies in the following areas: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality. The rating system gives points for adherence to strict guidelines in each of the five areas and, depending on the number of points earned, a building may be certified at one of several LEED levels.
“A great deal of effort and care goes into any energy-efficient, sustainable-design construction,” says Charles Plunkett, president of Artistic Builders and founder of Capco Steel Inc. “When a project goes beyond ordinary ‘green’ to actually seek LEED certification, the degree of attentiveness and accountability increases dramatically.”
Artistic Builders is the general contractor for construction of the Full Goods Building at the old Pearl Brewery in San Antonio, one of the highest profile construction sites in Texas seeking LEED certification. Full Goods, a former warehouse that once served as a packaging and shipping facility, is an adaptive re-use and rehabilitation effort that will create 67,000 square feet of distinctive office, retail and residential space. Capco is the subcontractor providing light-gauge steel framing, metal-clad wall systems, specialty steel and structural fabrication services for the project.
“The LEED process involves not only strict performance and utilization of materials that meet USGBC standards,” says Plunkett, “but also meticulous recordkeeping to evidence that such standards have been met.” For instance, there is a requirement that at least 50 percent of all wood used in the project be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council as having come from areas engaged in re-foresting efforts. To obtain LEED certification, such wood must be purchased from a supplier that handles re-forested products, and Artistic Builders must obtain a tracking number for the wood, as well as documentation certifying its chain of custody from the logging site to the project.
To earn LEED certification points, at least 75 percent of all waste during construction must be recycled. The Full Goods jobsite has separate dumpsters for waste so materials may be recycled more efficiently. Wood, drywall, cardboard and similar waste is sent to a company that separates the materials and grinds them into a powder to be recycled. Steel waste serves as scrap and is recycled by a steel company. Only a minimal amount of waste ends up in a landfill.
During the construction process only adhesives, paints and solvents with a low-volatile, organic-compound rating may be used in order to maintain the high level of indoor air quality required to earn LEED points. Additionally, the site’s ductwork is capped to keep the insides clean during construction, and tight-weave air filters catch smaller particulates to maintain a higher air quality.
To top it all off, literally, the Full Goods Building will feature the largest solar energy installation in the state, generating approximately 200 kilowatts—or about one-quarter of its total energy needs—from solar panels covering the rooftop. “All in all, a tremendous amount of thought and care has gone into the design and construction of the Full Goods Building as a sustainable and energy-efficient structure,” says Plunkett.
The entire Pearl complex is undergoing a transformation to create a vibrant village on the river where urban living, great food and events, art, ideas and education all come together. Plans for the adaptive re-use of the brewery combine rehabilitation of historic structures with new construction, and were developed to ensure the project not only preserves but enhances the historic nature of the site.
Bruce Barenblat is director of operations for Artistic Builders Inc. Previously, he was a contract/operations vice president and general counsel for a private contractor. He joined the ABI/Capco team in 2008. For more information, visit www.artisticbuilders.com.