Reconstructed facility achieves highest LEED status

Reconstructed facility achieves highest LEED status

What once was a medical building in Independence, Mo., is now a sustainability standout.

The U.S. Green Building Council has awarded the new Independence Utilities Center with a highly coveted Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) platinum certification, according to a press release. The facility earned the highest LEED designation for exceptional energy and water conservation, site connectivity and development, sustainable construction techniques, and a number of indoor, health, safety and user comfort features.

The 47,500-square foot, three-story building was previously a medical building on a larger campus that included the former Medical Center of Independence. Though the hospital had been razed, the medical building was left standing.

Completed in October 2016, the new Independence Utilities Center houses administrative and customer service offices for Independence Power & Light, along with offices for the Independence Water Department and some large training spaces.

The project also was recently recognized by the Kansas City Business Journal as a winner of a Capstone Award in the green design category.

“This is a real achievement that will become a model for developers looking for proof of how sustainable design can have a meaningful impact on our built environment,” Independence Mayor Eileen Weir said.

“The city of Independence now has a showcase facility that demonstrates how renovated buildings can surpass the energy and environmental performance of even newly constructed buildings,” said Joe Williams, who served as lead project architect for Burns & McDonnell. “Reinvestment in a repurposed facility like this takes creativity and teamwork. But it’s worth it. During the course of this project, we heard countless stories from people who spent time in the building when it was home to the many medical practices associated with MCI hospital. It has been an honor and privilege to return this building to a place where it is once again a vibrant part of the Independence community.”

The project preserved more than 95 percent of the existing structure. Key additions greatly improved aesthetics and energy efficiency of the building envelope, including new wall and roof insulation, thermal windows, aluminum exterior panels and sun shades and a “cool” white roof to reduce heat gain. 

Almost 98 percent of construction waste was recycled or reused and diverted from landfill.  The interior was gutted and built-out with high efficiency heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) and new LED lighting. A large amount of reclaimed white oak sourced from a thoroughbred horse farm in Kentucky was reused in public areas of the building and more than 97 percent of new wood purchased was FSC-certified for sustainable forestry practices. 

New low-emitting materials, finishes and furniture will protect the health and productivity of the city’s 130 employees who now occupy the building.

The facility features a variety of energy conservation and renewable energy features, including a rooftop solar array and wind turbine capable of providing 15 percent of the building’s annual energy needs. The building is ventilated using a dedicated outside air unit (DOAS) that has an energy recovery wheel to capture heating or cooling from the building exhaust air to pre-condition the ventilation air, minimizing the need for mechanical cooling or electric heating.

 A variable refrigerant volume (VRV) heat pump system allows units in different zones of the building to modulate to match the load in each zone with high part-load efficiencies to simultaneously heat and cool, as needed. The combination of systems makes the building 51 percent more efficient than a comparable baseline building.

In addition, ultra-high efficiency plumbing fixtures reduce water use within the building by 40 percent. Exterior landscaping features a number of native and adapted plant species that thrive without the need for permanent irrigation and help slow and infiltrate stormwater runoff from the site.

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Companies: U.S. Green Building Council

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