Going green and grabbing gold: Chicago Botanic Garden’s plant center wins LEED gold

With its alluring assortment of display gardens and quietly elegant buildings by Edward Larrabee Barnes, the Chicago Botanic Garden is one of the Chicago region’s treasures, drawing people of widely diverse backgrounds. On a given weekend, you can hear visitors speaking a multitude of languages, among them Russian and Chinese.

Now the Botanic Garden, located at 1000 Lake Cook Road in Glencoe, has a new feather in its cap. Its year-old Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Plant Conservation Science Center, designed by Chicago architect Laurence Booth of Booth Hansen, has won a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council. Gold is the second-highest LEED rating after platinum.

True, the honor is not exactly a shocker. If the Botanic Garden didn’t do a green building, who would? Still, it is yet another sign of the green revolution that is quietly remaking the practice of architecture in Chicago and its suburbs. At last count, Chicago had more LEED-rating buildings than any other American city.

Here are details about this latest LEED rating, as provided by the Botanic Garden:

The Plant Science Center, which opened in September 2009, received points in six categories including sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy & atmosphere, material & resources, indoor environmental quality and innovation and design process. Points earned for each category include:

Sustainable Sites
• Site Development- the design of the building limits the impact on the land as the building rests on 4.5-foot piers. A rainwater glen has been planted and collects and filters runoff from the building and adjacent parking areas.
• Heat Island Effect. Light colored roofing and a 16,000 square-foot green roof garden, which is open to the public, covers over half of the roof area, reducing heat island effect.
• Alternative Transportation. Eight bicycle racks and two showers are provided for staff to commute via bicycle. Two “Hybrid Vehicle Only” and two “Carpool/Vanpool” parking spaces are provided.

Water Efficiency
The Woman’s Board Rainwater Glen surrounds the building and collects rain water draining from nearby parking areas and is filtered within the Garden’s plant community. Native plants have been used in the landscaping, which has reduced the need for irrigation by half. No potable water is used for irrigation. The building used 30 percent less water through the use of low-flow plumbing fixtures and valves.

Energy and Atmosphere
Two hundred and eighty-eight solar photovoltaic panels on the roof of the building provide five percent of the power needed to operate the Plant Science Center.

The selection of energy-efficient lighting, mechanical equipment, insulation of exterior walls and roof, windows with low-E and high-performance glass and air lock vestibules at all entrances and radiant heating and cooling built into the floor to regulate building temperatures contributed points towards the Gold LEED certification.

Materials and Resources
Seventy-five percent of construction waste was diverted from disposal. The erosion and sedimentation plan involved silt fencing, sediment traps and basins to prevent pollution of the surrounding area. FSC-certified wood was used for half the value of all wood used on the project. Trees that were removed from the site have been used to create planters in the Plant Science Building, display stands for bonsai exhibits, and multi-purpose tables for plant exhibits. A walnut wall was created for the Lenhardt Library. Ground tires are used as flooring in open office areas, and metal shavings were fabricated into bathroom countertops.

Indoor Environmental Quality
Clerestory windows in the Grainger Gallery provide natural light in the center of the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Plant Conservation Science Center. The same windows are installed over offices that line the north and south side of the building. Pitched ceilings direct natural light into interior open offices.
Building materials were selected to have no or low Volatile Organic Compounds, such as paints and coatings, adhesives and sealants and composite wood and agrifiber products.

Segregated areas were provided for hazardous chemicals or gases with containment drains and high level of filtration. Duct work parts were kept sealed before installation so that they would be clean and dust free when installed.

Innovation and Design Process
Monitoring equipment installed on the Green Roof Garden will help plant conservation scientists measure the green roof’s insulation effect on the building and other factors that will discern best plants to grow on Midwest green roof gardens.


photoes from: http://www.boothhansen.com/_projects/cultural/00.html#

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