City borrows 'green building' from campus

Published: Saturday, October 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, September 30, 2005 at 11:44 p.m.
Bahar Armaghani knew waterless urinals would be a hard sell in new locker rooms for the University of Florida baseball team.
But the UF project manager pointed to urinals already installed in eco-friendly Rinker Hall to show they don't smell bad and save 40,000 gallons of water per urinal, per year. They're among the features of so-called green building that UF is incorporating in new construction.
"The payback is there and it's really benefiting the university," said Armaghani, who is responsible for UF's green building program.
The university has more than a dozen buildings with green features, including Rinker Hall, home to the School of Building Construction. Now a university professor is helping export the practice off campus in the proposed development at city Parking Lot 10.
Green building means environmentally and socially beneficial features ranging from energy-efficient materials to locating buildings near public transportation, said Charles Kibert, director of UF's Powell Center for Construction and Environment and an advisor on the Lot 10 project.
"It's all part of a bigger picture," he said.
Lot 10's developers have committed to green building in the proposal for the 12-story residential and commercial project. Orienting the building to maximize the daylight that shines inside, installing energy efficient appliances and landscaping the property with drought-resistant plants are among possible green features mentioned in the proposal.
"It costs money to do it," said Barney Danzansky, president of the company developing the project. "But if it's better for the planet, better for the environment and better for the people that live there, it's a better project."
Kibert said incorporating green features can boost the cost of a project 7 percent or more. The city of Gainesville offers incentives to help offset those initial costs, such as hastening approval of green buildings to eight days and reducing permit fees by half.
But developers on just 13 buildings have gone through the program since it started in 2003, said Doug Murdock, city building official.
"I thought a lot more would take advantage of the incentives," he said.
While initial costs can scare away developers, the features pay for themselves in the long term in reduced energy costs, Kibert said. There are also benefits that are harder to quantify, he said, such as a positive public image for the developer and healthier and happier residents and employees.
"The paybacks really are staggering," he said.
Rinker Hall acts both as a headquarters for education efforts in green building and a showcase for how those efforts actually work. Opened in 2003, the building's siting allows for natural light in 98 percent of offices and classrooms, Armaghani said.
The building also has features that save energy and water such as the no-flush urinals, which use chemical cartridges that cost $34 apiece and get replaced every three months. Rinker is 37 percent more efficient in its use of water and energy than older, similar buildings on campus, she said.
Green features have also been incorporated in the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera, the renovated Library West and the new baseball locker rooms. Armaghani recited a laundry list of new buildings being developed that will continue in the trend.
"Basically all of our buildings coming up are going to be green buildings," she said.
Staff writer Jeff Adelson contributed to this report. Nathan Crabbe can be reached at 352-338-3176 or

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