Peninsula Architects design is awarded the nation’s highest honor for green buildings

Metroparks Serving Summit County Field Office, Akron, Ohio

A renovation on a simple ranch home in Akron is putting Ohio in the environmental limelight. Peninsula Architects’ design for a Metro Parks, Serving Summit County Ranger and Natural Resource Management building has been identified as a national leader in energy efficiency, water recycling and reduced carbon footprint and has been awarded Northern Ohio’s first Platinum Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. The building also received the top prize for green projects in the Ohio Parks & Recreation Association’s 2008 Awards of Excellence, October, 2008.

Peninsula Architects worked with Metro Parks, Serving Summit County to renovate the former residence in the Sand Run Metro Park. Among hundreds of high- and low-tech features, this home is now a functional office with toilets that don’t connect to the sewer, a rooftop rain garden and building materials made from recycled newspaper, lumber, plastic, glass and steel.

“A LEED-certified building demonstrates a commitment to protecting the environment,” said Joseph Matava, Peninsula Architects principal, “They conserve water and energy, while reducing landfill waste and greenhouse gas emissions. There are added economic benefits as well – LEED certified buildings have lower operating costs and can get tax rebates, zoning allowances and other incentives.”

According to The U.S. Green Building Council, the organization monitoring LEED certification, the annual U.S. market in green building products and services was more than $7 billion in 2005, $12 billion in 2007 and is projected to increase to $60 billion by 2010.

The park district’s decision to recycle an existing building was just the foundation for this “green” project. In it, solar and geothermal components work together to reduce the need for nonrenewable energy sources by more than 40%, while water use has been reduced by just over 56% through a combination of innovations – including composting toilets.

Thus far, the structure is getting rave reviews from its occupants. “One of the great myths of sustainable living is that we have to change our lifestyles and accept a lower standard of living. Our ‘green’ building proves that you can be green and maintain a normal standard of living,” said Mike Johnson, the park district’s chief of natural resource management.

The original, 2,200-square-foot residence was purchased by the Park in 2003 and was expanded by 900 square feet through this project, which was completed in early 2008.

The building includes geothermal heating, waterless toilets, solar panels, a green roof, lumber from downed trees in the Metro Parks, and recycled carpet, furniture and cabinetry. Outside, the features include porous pavement and native landscaping. Some of the original building materials were “recycled” by Habitat for Humanity.

About Peninsula Architects

Founded in 2001, Peninsula Architects offers a wide spectrum of residential and institutional projects. Central to the firms’ philosophy is sensitivity to the influences of context, and the effect these multi-layered influences have on the formation of a timeless and sustainable architecture. Peninsula Architects serves clients throughout the United States.

About Metro Parks, Serving Summit County

Metro Parks, Serving Summit County manages more than 9,000 acres, including 13 developed parks, six conservation areas and more than 120 miles of trails, with 18 miles of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail. Annual attendance averages 4 million visitors.

About USGBC

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a non-profit organization committed to expanding sustainable building practices. USGBC is composed of more than 15,000 organizations from across the building industry that are working to advance structures that are environmentally responsible, profitable, and healthy places to live and work. USGBC’s Mission is to transform the way buildings and communities are designed, built and operated, enabling an environmentally and socially responsible, healthy, and prosperous environment that improves the quality of life.