Our building has many green features, both inside and outside!
The PieperPower Education Center is LEED certified. These standards address a building’s water efficiency, use of recycled materials, internal air quality, energy use, materials used, temperature and lighting control. The LEED certification is given to buildings that have been remodeled or designed to reduce negative impacts on the environment. Remodels such as this are generally very expensive, but the savings are seen years later. LEED certified buildings are 25-30% more efficient than traditional buildings.
The bags you see on top of the roof are filled with lava rock and sedum plants. The bags are secured to the slanted roof via wires. The sedum plant can put up with dry weather and does not need a lot of maintenance. During the wet months, the plants soak up water that would otherwise run off the roof. Green roofs help insulate the building, allowing us to use up to 25% less energy to heat and cool the building throughout the year!
Paint, Wood, Lights, and Ceiling
All paint, glue, and wood coverings have very little volatile organic compound (VOC). This results in healthier air.
The hardwood floors in the Board room and the cabinets throughout the building are made from bamboo, a fast-growing and readily renewable plant.
The lights use high florescent efficiency fixtures with low mercury tubes. The lights face up, and the light is then scattered throughout out the room because of the way the ceiling is shaped and the white paint. This helps to make the ceilings in the classrooms and auditorium reflective, which means we can use fewer lightbulbs to light up the rooms.
The carpet in the auditorium and library are made from 40% recycled plastic materials. The floors in the hallways, classroom, lobby, and kitchen are covered with Marmoleum, a linoleum-like material that is made from renewable materials (like plants!) and has no toxic components. You can actually eat the flooring!
The parking lot is designed with three biofiltration islands, so in case of flooding, the water is diverted there where different plant species help soak it up. This helps prevent standing water. The parking lot is also made from a coarser material and is porous, which make the rain and snow melt sink into the ground through the small holes. This water is then recharged into the water table instead of running off into the surrounding area, and potentially causing flooding. Keep in mind, the building is sitting on top of a wetland, so in heavy rain periods and snow melt, the water table cannot keep up!
Wind and Solar Energy
The education building relies on renewable energy, as well as the commercial power grid to power the building. The wind turbine and solar panels located behind the Education Center help power the building throughout the year. Any extra power produced that the building does not use, is then sent back into the grid. Using renewable energy makes us less dependent on nonrenewable sources, such as coal and natural gas. Since there is less sunlight during the winter months, the wind turbine becomes a better source of power. Cold air is denser than warm air, so at the same wind speed, the turbine can generate around 13% more energy with the cold wind then the summer wind. The solar panels are a great energy source in the summer, because of the longer and more sunnier days. The panels face south and are far enough away from any large trees that would block sunlight from hitting them.
The rain barrels and rain gardens located on the sides of the building collect rainwater from the rain gutters. This water is then diverted into plantings and nearby gardens or into barrels. Staff then uses the water in the barrels to water plantings around the building during dry months.