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Green Globes System Assesses and Certifies First U.S. Building

Continuing a longstanding commitment to environmental stewardship and green building in particular, Issaquah, Washington, recently became the first U.S. city to have a building certified under the Green Globes™ environmental assessment and rating system. The Blakely Hall community center for Issaquah Highlands was awarded two Green Globes by the non-profit Green Building Initiative™ (GBI), which began marketing Green Globes in the United States in early 2005. The GBI's Green Globes for new construction was adapted from a system that is widely used in Canada, where it is one of only two green building rating systems recognized by the federal government.

Under the trade name Go Green Comprehensive it is also the basis of the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) of Canada's national energy and environmental program for existing buildings.

"The Green Globes system offers a number of advantages that make it perfect for a smaller structure such as Blakely Hall," said Ward Hubbell, executive director of the Green Building Initiative. "It's Web-based, easy to use and cost effective. It also facilitates the process of integrated design, providing a platform for communication among the various members of the project team."

The two-story, 7,000-square-foot community center houses the Issaquah Highlands Council and hosts a variety of meetings and events for the local community. It is comprised of offices, a large central space, flexible meeting rooms, community Internet computer stations, and a demonstration kitchen and dining room. Construction was completed in March 2005. To achieve certification, the design team used the Green Globes tool to assess and rate the building. The rating was then verified by a third-party building science expert, who reviewed the construction documents and conducted an on-site evaluation.

"One of the benefits of using Green Globes was the fact that it facilitates the collection, sharing and distribution of sustainability data among consultants, contractors and suppliers," said Rick Reininger, Blakely Hall project manager. "Plus, the on-site verification provided an opportunity for both the certifying party and the building owner to review questions and concerns, and to resolve potential discrepancies quickly."

"The client's commitment to sustainability was the primary driving force behind successfully earning certification," said Kristen Scott, AIA, a principal of Weber + Thompson, the Seattle-based architecture, interior design and planning firm that designed the building "The additional recognition from Green Globes reinforces the value of the community center as an educational demonstration project for both residents and visitors to Issaquah Highlands showcasing sustainable design in action."

The Blakely Hall community center achieved two Green Globes by incorporating a wide range of green attributes. In addition to high energy and water efficiency and the integration of daylighting, the structure includes as many locally sourced materials as possible, from Port Blakely Tree Farms' third-party certified timber to stone countertops made entirely from recycled materials. The implementation of a construction waste management plan also helped divert more than 97% of waste from landfill. Other green features include an innovative storm water management system, which is part of a larger plan created by Port Blakely Communities to control surface flow in the 2,200-acre Issaquah Highlands Community. With the local population expected to grow substantially, the plan incorporates a comprehensive system of retention ponds, filtration devices and water control monitors to ensure that ground water is continually replenished, and that there's no net increase in water flows to streams.

"Blakely Hall is an example of one community's steadfast commitment to the environment," said Hubbell. "The GBI is proud to have a part in showcasing this progressive structure -- and we hope that it will inspire others to integrate green principles into their own construction practices."

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