St. Vrain Achieves LEED Platinum

By: Julie Edwards – OZ Director Of Sustainability

The newly constructed South Wing of the St. Vrain Community Hub has achieved LEED Platinum! The building will be the most sustainable building to date for Boulder County in Longmont, Colorado and the first LEED Platinum building in Longmont. The South Wing is attached to an existing building (referred to as the North Wing) by a two-story vestibule, but functions as a fully independent building.

The 75,000 SF South Wing of the St. Vrain Community Hub brings together services once scattered across the County into one building which will improve the experience for clients; allowing them to receive integrated services from Community Services, Public Health, Housing and Human Services, and Mental Health Partners from one central location. Co-locating departments and integrating services allows the County to support their residents more efficiently and holistically. It also increases connection between previously separated teams and provides a unique op­portunity for improved communication and collaboration. The look, feel, and layout of the building have been purposefully designed to be welcoming to clients in order to help reduce feelings of anxiety and help eliminate stigma around accessing the services the County provides.

To ensure easy site access for clients who walk, travel by bus, bike, or other methods of transportation, a strong emphasis was put on strategies that support alternative transportation programs. The building is located in downtown Longmont a block from the main bus terminal and central to businesses and services. Amenities for cyclists, such as maintenance stations, lockers and showers, and outdoor and covered bike racks, are included on site. Additionally, the County has constructed an electric vehicle charging station that will be initially set up as a free service for employees and clients to use.

A strong emphasis was put on energy and water conservation. The low flow plumbing fixtures installed reduce water use by 42% compared to a code compliant building and xeric plant selections and drip irrigation contribute to an additional 67% reduction in water use for landscaping. A demonstration garden featuring native Colorado and regional plants has been included in the pocket park at the south portion of the site. The site is designed so that rainwater draining off of the roof and parking lot will be collected into centralized rain gardens where the water is treated and infiltrated. Compared to a standard ASHRAE 90.1 2007 compliant building, the design of the South Wing will result in 48% energy use savings and 43% energy cost savings. These figures include the 91.5 kW PV system on the roof. Two custom rooftop air handling units house the evaporative cooling systems, fans, filters, heat wheels, heat recovery coil. Heating is provided by a low temperature condensing boiler system. Improvements to the envelope include 2” of soy spray foam in addition to the R-19 batts, increased roof insulation to R-35.7, high-performance low-E glazing (U-0.29, SHGC-0.23, VLT-39), and reflective roofing. Daylighting design strategies include interior light wells, skylights, interior glazing for conference room/offices and tubular daylighting devices throughout the upper levels of the building. The LED lighting used in the majority of spaces is also tied to occupancy sensors to turn off fixtures when not needed.

An interior wall featuring reclaimed lumber from a local church welcomes visitors to the building. Most of the wood in the interior public spaces was salvaged from the Church across the street on Coffman. The remainder of the wood in the project comes from sustainably managed forests certified by The Forest Stewardship Council. Low-emitting materials, such as flooring, composite wood, paints, adhesives, and sealants, were used for healthy indoor air quality. Many of the materials and finishes in the building are made from recycled materials or were locally sourced. Wherever possible rapidly renewable and bio-based materials were used – linoleum, bio-based ceiling tiles, wall base, batt insulation, Tectum acoustical panels, soy spray foam and a few of the laminates all contain plant-based rapidly renewable resources. Boulder County also has an extensive recycling and composting program. Collection areas for staff and visitors include many hard to recycle items such as batteries, light bulbs, books, plastic bags, and electronics.

The South Wing of the St. Vrain Community Hub achieved 86 points, well above the required 80 points for LEED Platinum status. The project could not have attained this far-reaching sustainability goal without the constant communication and dedication of the project team, Boulder County and the support of the Boulder County Commissioners, who approved funds to pursue the LEED Platinum building.