(Editor's note: This article has been edited to correctly identify the designers of the Norm Abjornson Hall on the Montana State campus.)
A Bozeman building finished in early 2017 was recently awarded the highest possible certification for sustainable buildings awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council.
The SxS building at 387 Gallatin Park Dr., designed by Billings-based High Plains Architects and built by Langlas & Associates, now holds the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) platinum designation.
“We’re really pushing the envelope in terms of what we can do within conventional building budgets to make buildings that have a very small environmental footprint,” said Ed Gulick, vice president of High Plains Architects. “In the end, it just produces a much better quality building that’s better for the community, better for our environment and better for the occupants.”
The only other building in Bozeman with a platinum LEED designation is Norm Abjornson Hall on Montana State University’s campus, which was designed by A&E Architects and ZGF Architects, LLP.
The SxS building is occupied by the SxS Group, an investment firm that works in real estate and development.
“We all spend a lot of time here in the workplace, and a building that is sustainably built and designed, a LEED platinum building in this case, is going to be healthier,” said SxS Group president Dan Ruggles.
The building has super-insulated walls, which makes heating and cooling it take much less energy, as well as a 6.4KW rooftop solar array and drought-tolerant landscaping that doesn’t need constant watering like a traditional grass lawn.
It also has large windows to let lots of daylight in on both the first and second floors, which Gulick said is a major energy saver.
“In your typical American office building, about 30% of the total energy use is just for lighting,” Gulick said. “That’s the largest energy user, higher than either heating or cooling. We wanted to have a lot of daylight, both to reduce the energy use, but also to create a more desirable space for working in.”
Toilets and sinks in the building use 45% less water than average fixtures, and a stormwater run-off channel, or bio-swale, stores and treats the stormwater that runs off of the building’s roof, parking lot and any other impermeable surfaces on the lot.
“The general philosophy is try not to export your problems,” Gulick said. “You want to solve them on-site.”
Ruggles and Gulick both stressed that the completion of the building and the recent certification was a team effort.
“If it wasn’t for our strategic partners at High Plains Architects or at Langlas & Associates in designing and building this building, none of this would have come to fruition,” Ruggles said. “Everybody has to be on board to build a LEED platinum building.”
Ruggles said building a sustainable office space was a priority for SxS, which focuses its investments on environmentally sustainable real estate.
“This is just kind of part of our bigger model of sustainable land use,” Ruggles said. “We really see it as a responsibility to push the dialogue of ultra high efficiency building and sustainable building and land use practices in what’s historically a consumptive industry.”
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