“Can all housing be green?” the Newsmaker column in the Dec. 20 Parade magazine asked.
Perhaps nothing man builds will ever be completely in harmony with the environment but a key is certainly to take steps toward a “green” goal.
A case in point might be the considerations taken to built the Tri-City Herald building on Canal Drive in Kennewick.
First, there isn’t any wood in the skeleton. It’s still the most veritable building product, but cutting down forests isn’t on anyone’s lists of things helping the environment. Building with metal lasts longer, has obvious fire resistance and almost all metals nowadays are amalgams. That is, they are made up of various new and recycled elements prolonging the life of ores.
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The interior structure is hidden by a natural stone exterior. While protecting the insulation within -- no asbestos here -- the stone faces the building which means it won’t require gallons of paint to keep up.
A good thing you don’t have to do a lot of painting! The area near the building and the grounds are surrounded by trees and bushes. This isn’t just for looks. As the trees mature they will shade key areas. The live plants also add to the city’s downtown area and aid in the ability to “scrub” the air. Many cities were devoid of this and thus, did nothing to offset the effects of cars.
The overall design made the most use of natural light possible. There’s a long, gondola atop the roof that gives the building a distinctive look. There’s more to that story than trying to create a pretty face. The rise gives a place to put windows. The windows are aligned over the central hallway. These windows let in natural light for that hall and the second floor. On the interior, along the upper hall, there are slots or openings created allowing sunlight to filter from the second story to the first.
That’s a “double dip” that keeps lighting from having to saturate areas to make up for dark zones. That lighting would have to have been hooked to the energy supply and run constantly without the sun’s aid.
The lighting itself is all low energy type. Florescent lights have the latest energy efficient starters and ballasts. Some of the lights are even “smart.” Installed in many specialty rooms, such as the copy room or the main mailroom, are motion detectors. If there isn’t a person in that room moving about in need of light, the light remains off.
So, is the red brick and stone building really “green?” Maybe it’s not a perfect solution but if ALL HOUSING was taking every step under consideration we would certainly be doing our part to build GREEN.
-- Ron Buckland is the Herald’s post press department maintenance coordinator and has worked at the paper since 1976.
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