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Baraboo looking for other ways to take the ‘LEED’ in energy efficiency

By Jan Basina

It seems these days everyone and his uncle is rushing to construct energy-efficient buildings, specifically those with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design stamp of approval.

Everyone, that is, except the city of Baraboo.

Recently, Baraboo decided to step back a bit and take a look at other options for the Ringling Riverfront redevelopment project — the city’s plan for redevelopment along the Baraboo River.

The project called for developers to comply with LEED architectural guidelines, which are administered by the U.S. Green Building Council, based in Washington D.C. Under the LEED certification system, green or energy-efficient commercial buildings are certified by the council based on a point system. Buildings can be classified as certified, silver, gold or platinum.

Afraid that LEED certification might discourage redevelopment by requiring developers to comply with stringent LEED guidelines, Baraboo opted to look at other, more flexible options. Specifically the city wants to come up with guidelines promoting environmentally sound building practices while avoiding the cost of formal certification systems.

But Baraboo is not the only one looking for more-flexible options for green building. There are plenty of other projects out there using alternatives to LEED certification. Case in point: The new Pellissippi State Community College campus in Blount, Tenn., which decided not to proceed with LEED certification because of the expense. Instead, the Tennessee Board of Regents adopted the sustainable guidelines for construction of new buildings, which paralleled the LEED certifications requirements, without the expense.

And everyone involved with the project will attest that the campus is truly “green.”

That’s one of the criticisms of the LEED certification program — it’s expensive.

But Steve Roznowski, chairman of The Christman Co., a construction management company in Lansing, Mich., would argue that point. He maintains that LEED certification does not have to be expensive, noting that there are plenty of tax incentives available out there for historic buildings and green building.

And he has first-hand knowledge of that fact. His company headquarters in Lansing recently achieved the world’s first double-platinum LEED certification. The 82-year-old business was certified for its core in shell (its construction) and also for its interior.

The LEED certification is certainly a hot topic these days. But no matter what side of the fence you’re on, it seems that everyone agrees that we must continue to construct energy-efficient buildings in our need to go “green.”

Jan Basina is a data reporter at The Daily Reporter. She can be reached at (414) 225-1817.

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