What is “Green Building?”

Green builders and architects often joke that they spend half their time explaining what green building actually is.

When the Albuquerque green architectural consulting firm Environmental Dynamics, Inc. is pressed to define green building, they have a ready example at hand – their own rehabbed building. The architects and consultants who run EDI bought a “nasty” concrete block commercial building near San Mateo and Central NE several years ago and turned it into a veritable showcase for green commercial renovation.

“What we do is exemplified by the building we’re in,” explains Kent Beierle, one of four partners who make up EDI.

The building at 142 Truman NE has a rustic yet stylish, modern look, sporting sustainable cork floors in the conference room and bamboo walls and floors throughout. Interior walls are finished with a non-toxic product made from crushed oyster shells and marble sand. Abundant skylights eliminate the need for artificial lighting during the day.

Photo by Patrick Coulie

The building’s exterior is finished with an all-natural lime wash mixed with crushed, recycled glass.

Recycled steel beams were used in the renovation, and concrete rubble from the nearly complete demolition of the building is “caged” in wire and used as a fence around parts of the building.
It takes a lot of water to make concrete. So instead of using concrete or asphalt for parking areas and outside walkways, EDI used an experimental blend of rocks that compresses over time into a concrete-like surface.

You can’t see it, but the building even has a green roof – one of the few in Albuquerque.

EDI is proud to say that it used or recycled about 90 percent of the waste that remained from the building’s demolition.

“Only one Dumpster was taken to the landfill,” said Bierele.

EDI’s renovation was done using the practices and products common to those it uses in its many commercial and residential jobs for good reason: To show how easy and attractive green building can be, said Bierele. “We set out to make green building sexy, to make it accessible to people, to dispel the myths and the voodoo. It’s ridiculously simple stuff, really,” he said.

An increasing number of companies around New Mexico are catching on to the green building trend, which proponents say not only helps the environment but also produces more conscious, less-wasteful employees and residents.

“New Mexico lends itself well to sustainable design,” said Kris Callori, an architect and partner in EDI. “There are so many ancient examples of sustainable building and water usage.”

And as one of the few local firms accredited by the prestigious Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system, EDI is earning a reputation as one of the state’s leading firms. With two licensed architects and a number of associates, the company builds it own projects and provides consulting and design services to a number of architectural companies in the region.

In addition to green building design, EDI helps companies or homebuilders consider incorporating such energy-saving features as digital heating and cooling, ground-source heat pumps and solar appliances, said Callori.

Currently, EDI is working on the Cognitive Behavorial Institute of Albuquerque, a show-stopping 6,900 square foot building in the Sandia Heights that has a goal of attaining LEED certification and reducing energy use by more than 50 percent, compared to a typical office building.

EDI is a proud member of the United States Green Building Council and the U.S. Green Building Council-New Mexico Chapter.

To contact Tracy Dingmann email her at tdingmann@gmail.com


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