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Heber building exemplifies green goals

ANNA BLOOMOf the Record staff

An unlikely location for one of the greenest buildings in the area, perhaps, but leaders of the Park City Area Home Builders Association are calling a Heber Valley office building an example of the new standards for green building practices.

"This [Heber City] building is a good example of what we’re trying to bring to the community," explains Norm Anderson, the association’s treasurer. "It’s the greenest building I can think of."

The 12,000-square-foot energy-efficient building is the headquarters of Anthony Aliengena’s company, Insight Technology, a factoring service for owner operators and small trucking companies. Aliengena’s will be installing shelves on his windows that will take advantage of the sun’s low position in the wintertime, and block sunlight when the sun is high in the summer. The interior lighting system is sunlight-sensitive, he says, so that the lights will dim and brighten as needed. The building is currently in the midst of construction.

To save money on heat and cooling, Aliengena employs heat from the ground to warm and cool his concrete structure by running pipes up to 300 feet underground called "ground coupled heat pumps." The earth is naturally 56 degrees, he notes and he uses it to heat and cool the building.

The concrete absorbs the heat well, and takes a long time to cool off in the evening, which means it takes less time to warm the building back up again the following morning, according to Aliengena.

Park City Area Home Builders Association President Gary Hill says a ground coupled heat pump system works something like a refrigerator, which pumps out heat from behind, and cools in the front. Flip a switch, and the system that heats Aliengena’s building can become a natural air conditioner.

While Aliengena does aim to help save natural resources, he notes he is likewise conserving money.

"It costs us about $45,000 to $50,000 more to use this as our heating, but the system will pay itself back in five years," he says. "

When asked whether his neighbors have taken note of his environmental efforts, he says that while the immediate community has not said much, Park City has, he says. Park City Councilwoman Marianne Cone has taken the time to drive out for a visit.

Led by Hill and Anderson, building experts in the area have outlined a Built Green Checklist for 2006. The list identifies 209 items that count as points toward qualifying a home as "green." A home needs at least 70 points, and must be registered with the "Built Green" program to qualify.

The points are inspired by a list of standards from Colorado, which separates green building into eight categories, featuring mechanical heating and cooling systems, air distribution systems, improved indoor air quality, moisture management, lighting, framing, exterior wall finishes and water conservation.

Anderson describes the government citizens group in its "formative stage" at the moment, currently presenting its lists to city and county governments in Wasatch and Summit counties for ratification and for funding. The green building group would like local governments to adopt their list as a voluntary set of standards, and contribute funds to the group, he says. The group is currently looking for $25,000 from the private sector and $20,000 from the public sector to help fund public education on green building and green building "audits" to ensure standards are met.

The group plans to establish a green building council under the Park City Home Builders Association this fall, Anderson says, but the concept of creating green building standards for the community has been in the works for several years now.

"People in Park City have been very receptive to the idea of green building … It started three years ago with [Recycle Utah’s Executive Director] Insa Riepen’s green building seminar she expected 50 people to show up, and 140 came last year 250 people showed," he explained. "Last year, Leadership Park City chose green building as their topic, and when they finished, we created a government citizens group."

The seven-member group includes Park City Municipal’s Chief Building Official Ron Ivie, Summit County Building Official Eric Averett, and Doug Smith, a planner from the Wasatch County Planning Department. According to Anderson, Ivie has said he suspects that the majority of Park City homes meet 90 percent of the green building standards outlined by the committee.

When Aliengena looked at the standards proposed by the Park City Area’s Home Builders group, he says he tallied his building’s green points at more than 130 and insists that’s a conservative count on his part.

His wife Jennifer who has helped to design the building observes that

"We just thought we’d give back a little. It just doesn’t make sense anymore to build a big building the old way, given the technology available now," she said.


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