Chattanooga architect Jay Caughman has been designing buildings for 13 years, but in July a new client gave him an opportunity to do something he had never done before — design a green building.
Not knowing where to start, Mr. Caughman reached out to Greenspaces for help, and found it at the initiative’s new headquarters and resource center on Main Street.
Staff Photo by Meghan Brown
People gather at Greenspaces' new office building on Main Street on Wednesday evening during Green Drinks, a monthly event that brings together environmentally conscience community members.
“I had never done a LEED-certified building before, and I was waiting until someone asked me to do a building like that before I learned how to do it, so to have a resource like that to help me go through the process, especially the first time, is really helpful,” Mr. Caughman said.
“When you’re trying to figure something out it’s easier when you have someone — especially that you don’t have to pay — that can lead you through the process.”
LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and provides a suite of standards for environmentally sustainable construction.
That kind of help is exactly what the center has been designed to do. The center officially opens Wednesday and will showcase the most environmentally friendly materials, practices and resources.
The staff of Greenspaces also will have offices in the upper level of the building, where they will be available to help visitors with research.
The three-year, $2 million Greenspaces program, funded by the River City Co., Benwood Foundation and Lyndhurst Foundation, offers resources and funding for green commercial and residential building projects and also aims to get at least 20 LEED-certified buildings downtown in the next three years.
The U.S. Green Building Council for LEED certification recognizes high-performance green buildings. The program currently is working with 15 projects in various phases, said Jeff Cannon, the director of Greenspaces.
“I think Chattanooga is very fortunate when you look at the size of our city, to have the support of the foundations to be able to do something like this — that speaks volumes,” Mr. Cannon said.
Other centers in cities like Chicago or Austin, Texas, which have made significant progress in the green movement, are not nearly as flexible Chattanooga’s, he said.
The center itself was designed to showcase the environmentally friendly methods that Greenspaces embraces, from a bookcase made from scrap wood to a plumbing system that uses a cistern designed to capture and reuse rainwater.
Anj McClain, director of the resource center, used her background in both interior design and environmental science to design the space using the most advanced materials and green technology available.
“When people ask us, ‘What is this center going to be?’, that is a question we usually put that back on them, and say, ‘What do you want it to be?’” Mr. Cannon said. “We can do anything you need us to do on the green or environment side.”