Keeping Indy Beautiful Begins at Agency’s Home

By Lori Darvas
Indianapolis, IN (December 6, 2007)- Keep Indianapolis Beautiful Inc. is trying to walk the proverbial walk with its new Fountain Square headquarters. The nonprofit, whose stated mission is to beautify the city and improve the environment, is taking its green mission to heart with plans to renovate a building at 1029 Fletcher Ave. into an environmentally sound headquarters.

Current plans call for a number of earth-friendly features, including a reflective “cool roof” to cut energy costs and the “heat island” effect; a 10,000-gallon cistern to capture rainwater; and a pervious pavement parking lot to reduce stormwater runoff. The organization hopes the building will qualify for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification through the U.S. Green Building Council.
The green-design features pushed up building costs by about 10 percent to 15 percent, Forsell said. But the initial outlay can pay for itself through energy and other savings.
For instance, rainwater collected by the roof cistern can be used for watering plants, instead of stressing the city sewer system, said Tom Cloud of Ratio Architects, the project’s architectural team leader. The lighting system will adjust the light level automatically according to the natural light inside the building. A rain garden will further reduce stormwater runoff.
An internal atrium will ensure that most employees have natural light in their work spaces. Safe paints with low levels of volatile organic compounds also may positively impact employees’ health.
“We really think the building is going to be an embodiment of our mission for community renewal and environmental improvement,” said David Forsell, president of Keep Indianapolis Beautiful.
The time was right to move the agency’s 12 full-time and 15 part-time employees, he said. The three-decade-old organization’s programs include Neighborwoods, a 10-year effort to plant 100,000 trees throughout the city. Rented office space on North Pennsylvania Street left little space for storing trees and related equipment, so the group was forced to borrow storage space.
As part of the renovation, the nonprofit will tear down a vacant, two-story structure on an adjacent site at 718 Shelby St., which will be turned into an outdoor storage space for trees, shrubs, mulch and other items for community projects. “We have been losing hundreds of hours a year just by traveling from location to location,” Forsell said.
An anonymous donor offered $350,000 in seed money for a new headquarters in 2006, which set plans in motion to find space. The 25,000-square-foot building, which once housed a manufacturer of industrial cleaning supplies, was purchased for $410,000. A total of $1.3 million in renovations is planned, and about $900,000 has been raised, Forsell said.
Ratio Architects, the Shiel Sexton development company, and Barnes & Thornburg law firm are among companies that have donated their services, cutting down on total costs. Keep Indianapolis Beautiful expects to move into its new space by June.
Tyson Domer, a green development consultant and head of Hundredyear Consulting, has volunteered his services for the LEED submission. While some items can be documented during the construction phase, others, such as actual energy use, must be measured after the building is up and running. “When it comes time to get your LEED certification, you need to have your ducks in a row,” he said. There are eight LEED-certified buildings in Indiana, with Ratio Architects involved in four, Cloud said. Several more are being registered for future certification.
The city of Indianapolis does not have any formal incentives in place for LEED certification. However, buildings such as these are welcome, said Allison Wells Gritton, director of environmental affairs with the mayor’s office. “We do want to try to find ways to encourage these things more aggressively in the future,” she said.
To be certified in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program by the U.S. Green Building Council, a building must earn points in six separate categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovation in design. LEED-certified buildings must earn at least 26 of 60 potential points by using certain materials, meeting energy standards and adding environmentally conscious features, said Dustin Eggink, a LEED-accredited professional and architectural graduate at RATIO Architects.
For the full article, visit the Indianapolis Star.
Related Resources:
Keep Indianapolis Beautiful
U.S. Green Building Council