Cities looking to renovate and sustainably adapt existing buildings for mixed use face unique construction challenges, says Josh Stack, a partner in Northeast Green Building Consulting. But sometimes a little challenge can lead to brilliant outcomes.
The sustainable renovation of the vacant, 100-year-old Lincoln Supply Building in downtown Syracuse’s Near Westside earned a Platinum rating from the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED® program, one of the first in the country to earn the top rating in the mid-rise, multi-use category, and the very first in New York to earn the designation outside of metropolitan New York City. The project was conducted in partnership with the Near Westside Initiative and Syracuse University’s School of Architecture.
“The project married the vision of the Near Westside Initiative with SyracuseCoE’s leadership in sustainable design and construction,” says Stack, whose firm consulted on the infrastructure, systems, and materials used on the project as well as provided LEED® for Home rater services.
Two of the major players on the project have a long history with SyracuseCoE. C&S Companies, the project engineers, is a SyracuseCoE charter member and Northeast Green Building Consulting is a frequent SyracuseCoE collaborator. “It’s a vision that couldn’t have become reality without SyracuseCoE. They make the key connections,” Stack says.
The renovation, completed during 2009 and 2010, was designed to demonstrate innovations in green technologies for energy and environmental systems, with SyracuseCoE funding the design of the green systems for the project. The 30,000 square feet of mixed-use commercial and residential spaces boasts green building technologies that include energy-efficient geothermal heating and cooling, high-performance windows and insulation systems, heat recovery ventilators for residential spaces, solar panels, and stormwater retention strategies such as a green roof and permeable pavement. The first and second floors contain office space and are currently home to the La Casita Cultural Center and Say Yes to Education. The third and fourth floors feature 10 live-work artist lofts.
“The home and office are completely different and somewhat foreign environments from each other in terms of ventilation, air sealing, and energy efficiency,” Stack says.
Accordingly, he says the LEED® mid-rise rating system is designed to allow multi-family and mixed-use buildings a way to earn LEED® certification more affordably than by pursuing the commercially focused LEED® for New Construction rating system. “The mid-rise rating system takes into account the difference between new commercial construction versus home construction,” he says. “The finished project exemplifies ideal environments for living and working in a mixed-use space,” he says.
Stack says the project’s platinum rating reflects the creative and innovative uses of the most advanced sustainable building practices today.