Curt is Chicago native - but don't hold that against him. After stops in Madison and California, he moved to Waukesha in 2004 to open a downtown business.
(Includes 2012 underground goverment hiding bunker.)
“Green and sustainable.”
These are the buzz words of new development as we enter the next decade.
There are many different ways one can build a green and sustainable development, such as using solar panels or wind energy, designing a smaller, more efficient building, and reusing and recycling building materials.
These are just some of the ways to achieve the title of green and sustainable.
And then there’s this…
An abandoned fire station sits in the 600 block of Arcadian Avenue in the city of Waukesha. Built back in 1962, the station has not seen any fire action in quite some time.
Recently, the building was used as a storage facility for the city, until it was auctioned off last year in hopes of raising money for the city as well as getting rid of an eyesore.
The building now belongs to the Waukesha Housing Authority and will be converted to offices, meeting rooms, and- rumor has it- will include a small area for local artist to display their work.
That’s pretty good- right?
But wait, it gets better…
The building is going to undergo a complete makeover as well. The exterior will be updated to a modern design that will feature new windows and skylights, the parking lot will see improvements, and there will be landscape updates that include additional trees throughout the area and a garden near the entrance.
And if that wasn’t enough to make you hug a tree, you should see what else is going to happen to this building (this is the part that makes mother nature smile)…
For starters, the entire building is going to be reinsulated. That alone is a great step towards energy conservation.
Next, a “living roof” will be installed.
What is a “living roof” you ask?
Approximately 2000 square feet of the roof will include plants and soil to help reduce the heating/cooling loads through higher thermal values and reduce storm water run-off.
In other words, the plants will help insulate the building and they will use a majority of the rain water that would otherwise be channeled to our city sewer.
Brilliant and beautiful.
Solar panels will grace the roof as well to help power the building, and the indoor lighting will be controlled by motion sensors to help conserve light energy.
(I once worked in an office building in California that had motion sensor lighting. My office partner and I soon learned that we couldn’t nap at our desks in the afternoon because the lights in our office would shut off, thus giving away our little snooze break.)
The plumbing fixtures throughout the building are "low-flow" designed to reduce water consumption as well.
And while all of this is great, there is one feature of this new development that I think is really incredible!
The building will be heated and cooled with thermal energy.
You see, there is a natural spring located in the northwest corner of the building and it will be used as a ground source heat sink. The spring, coupled with a high efficiency heat pump system, will reduce energy consumption and provide a sustainable design solution to heat and cool the structure. Not only will heat and air be efficient, but this design also takes away the need for heavy, unsightly, rooftop air and heat units.
When the project is finished, I will be running an extension cord from the WHA outdoor outlets to power my home as well! (Does ACE Hardware carry 2 mile long extension cords?)
All kidding aside, this design is incredible.
While living in California, I had seen some very self-sustaining building developments that included everything from solar panels to waterless urinals.
But this development, right here in Waukesha, takes the cake in green and sustainable designs.
Not only does it include groundbreaking sustainability, but it is doing so in an existing building.
So many times we see developers plow over perfectly fine structures, only to replace them with new structures, wasting valuable materials and filling our landfills with rubble.
My complements go to the Waukesha Housing Authority and to the designer, Madisen Architects, who planned this facility.
They have given Waukesha a proud example of how new construction can look as we progress through the 21st century.
That is until 2012, when all of this comes to a fiery end…