Friday, October 2, 2009

Downtown Research Park Goes Green

Richard Craver
Winston-Salem Journal, June 12, 2008

Piedmont Triad Research Park is preparing to walk the walk about going green.

Park officials said yesterday that they plan to adopt environmentally friendly guidelines, based on the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, rating systems by the U.S. Green Building Council, for the park's infrastructure and research centers.

Green buildings are constructed of materials that are renewable, don't harm the environment and use less energy than in conventional construction methods.

Doug Edgeton, the president of the research park, said that the guidelines will be used in future planning, construction and operations, such as placing new buildings to absorb more solar power.

Those include: specific performance targets, processes and recommendations for energy efficiency; renewable energy sources; storm-water management; reduction in use of potable water; care and management of material resources; and other areas of development and operation.

"Sustainable-development practices are consistent with the mission and values of our tenant population," Edgeton said. "Our effort to be better stewards of the environment and create a sustainable place further reinforces PTRP as a place where innovation lives."

About 859 people work at the research park, which has 39 tenants. Among the companies are 31 that are not affiliated with Wake Forest University Health Sciences, which owns the research park. There are eight Wake Forest programs at the park, including the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

Edgeton said he hopes that the park would be included in a pilot council program that targets neighborhood developments as part of reducing urban sprawl.

One example of an LEED-influenced building in Winston-Salem is Traders Row at 305 W. Fourth St. Cavanaugh & Associates PA, an engineering-consulting company, and Walter Robbs Callahan and Pierce Architects are the main tenants. The new Family Services building in the Southeast Gateway is another example.

Although other research parks are building according to LEED standards, "they are generally not considering the entire park from this perspective,"
said Dan Fogel, an associate dean at the Babcock Graduate School of Management of Wake Forest University. Fogel and Workplace Strategies Inc.
recently conducted a study of other research parks and large-scale developments.

"What is unique about PTRP is their park-wide perspective on LEED," Fogel said.

A study by the New Buildings Institute, released in April, found that new buildings certified under the LEED certification system are, on average, performing up to 30 percent better than non-LEED certified buildings in terms of energy use. The study also found a correlation between increasing levels of LEED certification and increased energy savings.

"We found so many studies, including ours, that have supported the cost factor as being lower for green buildings than other types," Fogel said.
"While 'first costs' may be higher, the payback is very rapid and the on-going costs are dramatically lower."

Edgeton said that the LEED certification "dove tails" into requirements for a 60-acre, mixed-use project being pursued by park officials and Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse, a Baltimore company that focuses on revitalizing urban neighborhoods.

"One of the requirements for the north district is that it be at LEED certification," Edgeton said.

Officials with Struever could not be reached for comment. The company has been featuring the local project prominently on its Web site - <> - for months.

Struever said it plans to "transform 1.1 million square feet of the R.J.
Reynolds historic tobacco warehouses into an urban live-work-play community, with Wake Forest University Health Sciences as the primary driver.
Incorporated into the space will be medical laboratory and research space, a variety of residential options and commercial space."

When the project surfaced in November, the company said it planned to develop the 60 acres in phases over five to six years.

At that time, the contract for the project had been expected to be signed by January. Edgeton said he expects Struever Bros. to provide an update within two weeks. Edgeton has said that Struever Bros. has the finances to take on the job, which is estimated to run into the "hundreds of millions of dollars."

The park has hired HDR Inc., an architectural, engineering and consulting company based in Omaha, Neb., to lead the LEED certification effort. Park officials said that adhering to the green guidelines would complement collaborative efforts with city of Winston-Salem on storm water, transportation and other infrastructure design and engineering projects already under way with HDR.

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