New LEED Office Building In Grottoes

Wellness Concepts Inc., Valley Leader in Green Building

Daniel and Cathie Atwell, owners of Wellness Concepts, since 1990, are building a new home for their business in Grottoes, VA. This is no ordinary building, as the Atwells, along with their contractor, Glen Stoltfus, are intent on making it the first Platinum, LEED certified building in the Central Shenandoah Valley.

LEED ( Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a nationally accepted certification program that is a third-party verified, green building rating system. A building receives points for energy efficiency, using reclaimed materials, water conservation, indoor air quality, and waste mitigation, just to name a few.

This 18,000 square foot building has outside walls made with insulated concrete forms or ICF’s.  They are 11 inches thick, that is with 2.5 inches of rigid foam on the outside and steel braces in the middle and then poured with 6 inches of concrete. This makes for a very sturdy, tight and sound proof building envelope. The windows are Low E( emissivity) which hinders heat loss during the winter and solar gain in the summer. Even the doors are made of materials that provide a thermal break. The second floor and roof is made of Insul- Deck forms that provide an R value of 33, as well as sound proofing.

This building is so tight that they have installed a fresh air exchange, along with CO2 sensors that measures the buildup of CO2 and automatically turns on the mechanism, to provide fresh, outside air. During the winter they have also installed a solar thermal heat device to warm the air, and therefore mitigating the use of their 20 SEER heat pumps. SEER stand for Seasonal Energy Efficient Rating; 13 is considered energy efficient and the higher the rating the more efficient it is rated.

LEED certification also considers the physical and emotional health of the inhabitants of the building. Wellness Concept’s employees could not be more fortunate. To insure indoor air quality, there weren’t any construction vehicles allowed in the building, thus preventing the buildup of chemicals in the walls. All the paints and adhesives are low or no VOC’s, i.e. no off gassing. Every employee will have a window, and they will use low voltage lighting, serving the dual purpose of using less electricity and having less glare.
Water conservation consist of a rain water catchment system in which the water is funneled from the roof into two 2500 gallon cisterns to be used for flushing toilets, washing vehicles, and watering the on site gardens. Any residual water will flow into a large trench under the parking lot, where it will gradually seep into the ground, thus mitigating storm water runoff.

Most of the building materials are either concrete or steel; however, the little wood that is used is either reclaimed or Certified FSA (Forest Stewardship Council).

Other features include: a white roof and parking lot for its solar reflecting effects; motion sensors for lighting; an outdoor space, landscaped with native trees and grasses; and a bicycle rack to encourage alternative transportation.

Finally, the whole building process has been environmentally friendly with 96% of construction waste being recycled and therefore kept out of the landfill.

The business is due to open in December 2010.

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This post was submitted by Sally Newkirk.

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