YOUNGSTOWN Court takes LEED in design



'Green' design has emerged only in the past three to four years.
By ROGER G. SMITH
CITY HALL REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- The award-winning aspects of the new federal courthouse downtown go unnoticed.
Consider, however, that the plants are drought-tolerant and need no watering system. Outside lights are tightly focused on the building, and the beams don't stray into unneeded areas. Inside, motion sensors turn off lights in empty rooms.
Such environmentally friendly features make the new building the first in Ohio to receive a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design -- or LEED -- designation. It's also the nation's first federal courthouse to get that citation.
URS Corp. of Cleveland did the design drawings that used those features.
"We believe in environmentally sensitive designs and programs," said Gary Hribar, a URS vice president and principal designer on the project.
The U.S. Green Building Council created the standards and issues the honors. The council is a building coalition that promotes projects that are environmentally responsible, profitable and provide healthy places to live and work.
Cuts utility costs
The LEED rating system emphasizes energy and water management that can cut utility costs in half. Studies show that such building standards can directly reduce construction and operating costs, the agency said.
"The benefits are economic and in terms of people who use the building," said Theresa Peyton, a council spokeswoman.
Some examples:
UDesigners made sure to use materials available locally. That helped the local economy plus saved on transportation costs and cut pollution associated with trucking materials from far away.
U Photo sensors adjust artificial light levels based on sunlight into the building, which cuts utility costs.
U Daylight into the building and views from the windows for workers exceed LEED standards.
"Green" design is in its infancy, emerging only in the past three to four years, Hribar said.
In all designs
URS tries to fold environmentally friendly features into every building it designs, he said. The company goes through a checklist of such items that could go into a building before design starts. Some items cost a little extra, but many don't, he said.
How many features are used depends on the client, Hribar said. In this case, the federal government sought a green design approach.
Hribar said the Youngstown project is an example of how many ways a building can be designed and still be sensitive to a variety of environmental factors. "When you have an opportunity ... it's important to maximize that opportunity," he said. "From a design perspective, I think the opportunity was maximized."
rgsmith@vindy.com

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