RIDGWAY – Green has grown from a color to a way of being, an awareness by people and businesses of the impact of their actions on the place they live and the planet as a whole. There are trendy terms to describe this movement, but many people in Ouray County lived with this awareness before there were any names for it.
When Alpine Bank, a Western Slope company, proposed a new bank building on Sherman Street in Ridgway, it was not hard for them to find local businesses to help them build it green.
In the U.S. alone, buildings account for 70 percent of electricity consumption, 39 percent of energy use, 39 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions, 40 percent of raw material use, 30 percent of waste output (136 million tons per year), and 12 percent of potable water consumption. These statistics were compiled by the U.S. Green Building Council, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit organization that devised and administers the LEED certification system, a nationally recognized standard for measuring the environmental sustainability of a building project. The LEED certification process emphasizes sustainable site development, water conservation, energy efficiency, recycled and environmentally friendly building materials, and indoor environmental quality.
Chad Mapp is a LEED-accredited professional hired by Alpine Bank as a sustainability coordinator to oversee new construction projects. He hired local Architect Doug MacFarlane to design the new bank building based on LEED standards.
“LEED standards are a way of formalizing a basic good building design,” MacFarlane explained. His bank design maximizes passive solar design, which provides heat and decreases the need for artificial light. The building is built with concrete and block foam insulation, and includes water-efficient, low-flow appliances.
MacFarlane explained that, “Conscious design is not just about the energy put into the construction, but about the long term efficiency of the building.”
Another area Mapp is focusing on is construction waste. He said that 50 percent of the construction waste from the bank building will be recycled. Mapp hired Ridgway resident Susan Maybach, who owns the landscaping company Earth, Wind and Rock, to take all of the wood waste. She will reuse some of it on her land; the remainder she will chip and compost. Maybach is also using much of the organic construction waste to make compost, which she will sell locally.
The landscaping for the new bank building is designed to reduce water use through xeriscaping, which utilizes drought-tolerant native plants. To guarantee a cleaner indoor environment, builders will use non-toxic materials including low-VOC paints and adhesives and chemical-free carpets. Alpine Bank is coordinating with San Miguel Power Association to purchase their power from renewable energy sources, and energy-efficient building design – “40 percent better than code,” Mapp said – will reduce overall energy consumption.
The Ridgway bank is not the first green building project Alpine has initiated, having successfully completed others across Colorado. The company’s green-building projects are part of their general green initiatives. In 2005 the company began a grassroots effort called the Alpine Bank Green Team to work toward minimizing their environmental impact by “promoting renewable resources, resource-efficient products, services and practices, and community outreach, awareness, and education.”