Totally Green-Letter Day Yesterday! Certified.


DW-GREEN Associates has been working for more than 3 years on the to-be-built Education/Formation Building for St. Margaret’s Church in Annapolis, MD. My firm was hired to perform as sustainable building consultant and Project Administrator for LEED certification. Objective was LEED® Silver Certified.

Construction began last November, and, after a tough winter, staged occupancy occurred in time for the Day School to open as originally scheduled just after Labor Day 2015.

SMC East Elev 2 _ DW photoYesterday, the goal was met when I accepted on behalf of St. Margaret’s the LEED® Silver certification!! for its Formation Addition. The project met all of the prerequisites and racked up 53 credit points.

The bar is set at a minimum 50 points for the Silver level so we exceeded by several. Would have been less nerve-wracking with another couple points likely, but we won everything we sought, save one. (One award took an appeal, but we were fortunate to be able overcome a mistake in reading the drawings by taking a different route that just happened to be available in the window layout in an open office work space.)


Among outstanding gains through high-efficiency design are more than 40% water savings and a shade over 22% energy savings against the benchmarks. These were clearly there for the taking, according to how much budget the church had. Of a possible 6 Innovation and Design Process credits, 6 were  awarded, including a pilot called “Design for Active Occupants.” (Pix right shows easy access to the stairways from the lobby.)

Among LEED credits not clearly or easily there for the taking was:

Asbestos remediation, as a subset of Brownfield Redevelopment. Early on, I took a sample of the composition roof tiles of the existing Parish Hall for analysis. Could a solar PV array be attached to a pitched roof facing perfectly south with no tree hindrances?

Nope, the sample showed a percentage of asbestos. For that reason alone, solar there was abandoned for a possibly risky installation. But, when looking back at the Brownfield Redevelopment credit, I was reminded that the small 2-story attached structure, containing bathrooms and stairways and covered by the same composition roof tiles, was scheduled for demolition to make way for the Formation Addition to be attached in its place. The asbestos roofing tiles might work for LEED credit. Further testing of the interior finishes uncovered asbestos in the floor tile mastic and elsewhere. So, go for it–maybe get the one point.

With ascribed forms/letters for HAZMAT removal, all was properly tracked and transported to an authorized hazardous waste dump some 400 mi. west where a certified receipt was obtained. The documented credit completed thereafter, it was awarded the LEED point at the end of the design review phase.

The LEED® Silver goal would have been the more challenging were it not for the prayerful commitment of faith by parishioners towards environmental stewardship all the way through. Another vital aspect was, of course, the resolve of a team of dedicated, hard-working professionals. Equally vital were the various parish oversight committees peopled by smart folks with considerable talent, knowledge of many things and good judgment.

That said, as the church’s sustainable building/LEED consultant, I want to doff my cap in particular to Teresa.  She was my “boss” for the 3-year venture; the parish’s A&E committee chair to whom I reported everything.  And, what a great boss!  She never, ever waivered in her support for the LEED 3rd-party volunteer rating system.

She trusted my efforts to mount a successful certification effort. When she asked “why?” about a certain prerequisite for LEED certification, or a credit, it was never to question that we should pursue the particular sustainable strategy or to get all wrapped around some axle of cost worries, but rather in the sense of “tell me more, this is really interesting.”

When I told her I wanted to have two design charrettes at the outset attended by all of our design and construction team members plus her as Owner’s rep and me, she didn’t ask why.  She just said “Let’s do it!”

Charrettes are a proven strategy of integrative design, the kind of design that pulls design professionals out of their “silos” to bring a collective, team-approach to the best and most sustainable design and construction affordable.

That’s the building the parish now has.  That’s its latest (certified big) statement of environmental stewardship.  Surely they, and area community groups, will continue to live into and enjoy their high-performing, healthy “new (LEED) digs” for a long time to come.



“Purpose affirms trust, trust affirms purpose, and together they forge individuals into a working team.” Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Team of Teams
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