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Pavers and facebrick part of LEED project in Rockingham County

February 9, 2012

Sometimes you don’t have to go far to go green.

Officials in Wentworth, North Carolina, were looking to build a new judicial center, one that would replace a facility built at the turn of the last century. What they got was a $34 million 175,400-square-foot state-of-the-art facility that earned a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold designation from the Green Building Certification Institute.

The facility, which houses courtrooms, the register of deeds office, facilities for the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office and a 300-bed detention center, is the first LEED Gold justice facility in the Eastern United States.  It uses energy-efficient HVAC systems, lighting and building envelope strategies to reduce energy expenditures by 28 percent ($94,000) per year; rainwater cisterns to annually save 600,000 gallons of water; an Energy Star ® compliant roof membrane to lessen local heat island effects and keep the building cooler; and local and regionally manufactured building materials to support the state economy and reduce the impact of transportation on the environment.

The latter included 350,000 wire-cut light range face bricks, along with a number of Pathway Red and engraved clay brick pavers, which were brought from Pine Hall Brick Company in Madison, NC, which is a little more than 11 miles away.

Lance Metzler, Rockingham County manager, said the effort was worth it.

“I’ve worked on a LEED Silver project before, so I understand how hard this team worked to successfully target LEED Gold for our center,” says Metzler. “Not only will this facility save the county operational costs in the long run, but we are leading by example.”

Dan Mace, a vice president with Moseley Architects and the managing principal on the project indicated that Rockingham County’s leadership viewed LEED certification as a measured risk worth taking for one of the county’s largest capital projects.

“I think the further along we got the more we could see how the project would benefit from the high performance design strategies we were considering and how pursuing certification was a good use of taxpayer dollars,” says Mace.

Materials, practices and design choices led to the LEED designation. Some of the differences can’t be seen by visitors, while others can. The windows are big to bring in exterior light, which lessens demand on interior lighting. Dual flush toilets reduce cold water usage. Motion sensors control both lights and faucets. Outside, the closest parking spaces are reserved for low emission vehicles and the lights in the parking lot are dimmer, because they are of lower wattage to save electricity.

And some aspects of the building design are actually green, even though at first glance they may not appear to be. Clay brick, carved into bas relief designs depicting Rockingham County’s history on the exterior walls and clay brick pavers inscribed with the names of prominent citizens and organizations, are green because they are made out of dirt and water, the two most abundant building materials on the planet. They’re green because they have countless recycling options during manufacture. And they’re green because they last virtually forever, which is the definition of sustainability.

As it turns out, the entire project has become a point of pride for Rockingham County.

“It’s fantastic that we are leading in the green energy environment,” says W. Keith Mabe, chairman of the Rockingham County Board of Commissioners. “It’s a good model for other counties to follow.”

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 1, 2012 6:10 pm

    Congratulations on a wonderful project! Love the Moseley Architecture team!

    Jason Lee

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