2014 Green Business Awards winner: Greensource Cincinnati

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greensourceint*304Greensource President Ez Housh transformed this Eighth Street townhouse into a LEED Platinum showcase while maintaining its historic character.

Photo courtesy Greensource Cincinnati
Greensource President Ez Housh transformed this Eighth Street townhouse into a LEED Platinum showcase while maintaining its historic character.

by Paula Christian, Cincinnati Business Courier Contributor

William “Ez” Housh III always had a soft spot for neglected historic beauty.

But his renovation of an old brick townhouse in 2008 evolved into a very special type of project. He didn’t just restore the downtown home to its former grandeur; he transformed it into a showcase for green building design in Cincinnati.

“It’s a passion of mine to pull things out of the gutter,” he said.

When he bought the Eighth Street townhouse, it had sat abandoned for a decade. It had once been the home of a Cincinnati mayor, then an American Legion hall and finally, a lighting store. Housh completely renovated the building using the latest energy-efficient materials and heating and air systems. He added a green roof, high-performance insulation, a rainwater harvesting system and a gray water system to reuse waste water.

In 2013, the project was awarded LEED Platinum certification by the U.S. Green Building Council, the first historic downtown building to receive that honor. It also won an award for Local Preservation Excellence from the Cincinnati Preservation Association.

“It demonstrates that even a Cincinnati row house built in 1875 can reach the highest level of sustainability,” said Chuck Lohre, who worked closely with Housh on the project. His company, Green Cincinnati Education Advocacy, a division of Lohre & Assoc. Inc., was the green building consultant and championed the LEED Platinum goal.

Lohre has led hundreds of people on tours of the building, and it has inspired other green renovations.

“The building is a poster child of mechanical systems,” Lohre said. “It is the Star Trek Enterprise of green buildings.”

Green Building Consulting Plaque

Original long form submission by Chuck Lohre,

Nomination for Cincinnati’s Green Business Awards

This award nomination honors Greensource Cincinnati for creating one of the most sustainable urban revitalization projects in the U.S. Greensource Cincinnati owns the sustainable built work, including complete building renovation, interior fit out, landscape, and an extensive set of state-of-the-art building systems including: reduced light pollution, occupancy sensors, programmable thermostats, measured and verified electrical systems, extremely low lighting wattage per square foot, the first integrated gray water toilet in Cincinnati, vacuum toilet systems, rainwater harvesting, geo-thermal demonstration systems, solar thermal hot water, solar electric demonstration systems, USGBC accepted renewable energy sawdust pellet stove and the first chilled beam AC system in Cincinnati.

The built work has groundbreaking unique environmental, social and economic success stories, and has significant measurable sustainable attributes by achieving LEED Platinum. The project is listed in the USGBC directory as Eighth Street, http://www.usgbc.org/projects/eighth-street/.

The Eighth Street headquarters of Greensource Cincinnati, an energy efficiency consulting firm, has been transformed into a showcase for green technology.

In 2008, company president Ez Housh decided to buy an old building in downtown Cincinnati, renovate it to high standards for energy-efficiency, and give people a place where they could see state-of-the-art green building products in action. Over the next few years the 1875 brick townhouse opposite the public library was completely renovated with the latest in energy efficient building materials and HVAC equipment. Highlights include a green roof, high-performance insulation, the first rainwater harvesting system in Cincinnati and a gray water system that reuses waste water from sinks.

Over the years, the building housed a series of businesses, including the former Ertel lighting store. It endured hard use, neglect and insensitive remodelings. The renovation preserved the graceful open staircase, the ornate plaster ceilings in the “1875 room,” and the wooden shutters that fold into pockets in the wall: an original green feature.

GreenSource Cincinnati Preservation Association AwardOn May 14, 2013 Greensource was awarded Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Platinum Certification by the US Green Building Council, the first historic downtown building to be so honored. On Nov. 10, 2013, Greensource Cincinnati will be awarded a Preservation Award by the Cincinnati Preservation Association. Margo Warminski, Preservation Director, pointed out the significance of the project, “We need to celebrate, promote and publicize projects like these as much and as frequently as possible. The public needs to be aware that we can preserve and improve our historical heritage for future generations.”

Greensource was designed as a showcase for sustainable “Green Building” design in Cincinnati. Centrally located in downtown, the 1875 building was completely renovated with the latest in energy efficient building materials and HVAC equipment. The urban location provided benefits because of access to alternative transportation, location in a neighborhood with an average density of 142,621 square feet per acre and no need for additional parking, receiving 12/14 points. Water use reduction is extremely low because of the state-of-the-art gray water and rain water harvesting for sewage conveyance and low flow fixtures to reduce potable water use, receiving 5/5 points. The rain water harvesting system is the first in Cincinnati. From the high efficiency windows and the spray foam insulation, the building demonstrates very low air changes per hour. Energy modeling verified 34% improvement over USGBC baseline for HVAC performance, receiving 12/17 points. Rounding out this building’s outstanding achievement is very high indoor air quality through the use of MERV 13 filters, 30% more fresh air ventilation and low emitting finishes, receiving 11/15 points.  The project also earned 5/5 points for Green Cleaning, Green Education and exemplary performance. Ez Housh was the LEED AP on the project. Chuck Lohre was the Green Building Consultant and championed the LEED Platinum goal.

The building is opened for sustainable education events and a series of classes are planned which use the project as an example of leadership in energy and environmental design. Because the project demonstrates nearly every category of sustainable building practice and operation, it is an excellent classroom. The following are specific examples of the educational features of the project:

Greensource provides visitors with information that will allow them to make informed decisions regarding energy and environmental issues that are important to the community, and country.

The concept of sustainable development reflects an understanding that we must meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Greensource not only embraces the concept of sustainability but is, in itself, a teaching tool for sustainability.

With our environmental problems increasing at an alarming rate, the most effective way to demonstrate to Cincinnati what can be done to make a positive impact, is to incorporate educational messages in Greensource. By implementing green solutions into the project, visitors can see first-hand how actions at a local level can make a difference.

It is more than just an interior environment. It creates a new type of learning experience for visitors by maximizing the physical and inspirational aspects of the building.

Permanent comprehensive signage is posted around the office to inform occupants & visitors of sustainability initiatives/benefits.

An electronic newsletter sent to all interested persons describing strategies, initiatives, and ongoing progress at Greensource.

Live presentations and case studies have been created to educate building occupants on the LEED project and explain the environmental benefits inherit in sustainable operations

Site Design

  • – incorporates outside teaching courtyards
  • – develop spaces to grow vegetables and native plants
  • – protects areas for viewing natural habitat
  • – uses explanatory signage for different plants and trees

Daylighting & Windows

  • – makes daylighting strategies obvious
  • – makes deliberate connections to the outside environment so that changes in weather are apparent, as well as stimulating, to occupants & visitors
  • – incorporates daylighting strategies that are enhanced through participation and understanding, historic shutters are still in place demonstrating century old practices

Energy-Efficient Building Shell

  • – incorporates artwork and graphics in the building which will help to educate about sustainability
  • – designed energy-efficient building components to make their purpose and function obvious
  • – highlighted different wall and glass treatments on each facade to emphasize the appropriateness of different design responses

Renewable Energy Systems

  • – incorporates full range of renewable energy options including passive solar, daylighting, solar hot water and space heating, bio-mass and photovoltaics
  • – positions renewable energy systems so that they are easily visible

Lighting and Electrical Systems

  • – incorporates photovoltaic lighting for building and walkways
  • – incorporates dimmable or staged lights to reduce artificial lighting during times of adequate daylighting
  • – uses computers to monitor energy use and renewable system performance

Mechanical & Ventilation Systems

  • – exposes parts of the mechanical systems to explain how they work

Environmentally-Sensitive Building Products and Systems

  • – designed environmentally-sound building components and make their purpose and function obvious
  • – installed explanatory signage that helps educate visitors about environmental benefits of materials and products

Water Conservation

  • – incorporates rainwater catchment strategies that are evident (both coming off the roof and storing the water)
  • – incorporates gray water applications that are evident

Recycling Systems & Waste Management

  • – designed recycling systems within each office to encourage participation
  • – developed a compost area

Transportation

  • – provided educational signage about bicycles and other pedestrian friendly transportation options for getting to and from the building
  • – gives high priority to placement of bicycle racks
  • – plans to incorporate an electric powered charging station for electric vehicles

Measurable Results

Of the thousands of visitors to Greensource Cincinnati, several dozen have gone on to register LEED projects. As the continuing, leading example of sustainable renovation in Cincinnati and with the ongoing events and educational classes, Greensource Cincinnati plans to influence the renaissance of revitalization in Cincinnati.

Tour this 1875 Cincinnati Mayor’s home which achieved LEED Platinum in 2013. Presentation is for the Green Education credit for the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
SlideShare Presentation
http://www.slideshare.net/ChuckLohre/greensource-leed-green-education-tour

 

 

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