ROCK HILL — The initial design Amy and Bill Strickland selected for their new preschool in Rock Hill was a Spanish mission style building, complete with a bell tower.
They changed the facade, and the bell tower evolved into a cupola that gave the building a feel of a Kentucky horse barn.
With siding designed to look like individual cedar shakes, the building took on its final character with a slight New England, Cape Cod feel.
But it is what you do not see and cannot smell that makes this building in the Millwood office park off Herlong Avenue different. The Stricklands decided that their new Goddard School would be built to green standards.
Most importantly, the building would be largely free of VOCs, volatile organic compounds, which are found in things such as paints, glues, building materials, furniture and cleaning supplies. VOCs release gases that can affect indoor air quality, and the Environmental Protection Agency has found that indoor air quality affects peoples health.
The Stricklands chose J.M. Cope Construction Co. to turn their desire into reality. Cope partnered with BB+M Architecture and civil engineers Keck & Wood to design a 9,470 square foot building that would meet their educational needs and green building standards commonly called LEED for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
This is the second of four LEED projects for Cope. The company built the York County Natural Gas Service Facility and has contracts for the new academic dream building at Clinton Junior College and Family Trust Federal Credit Unions new headquarters on White Street.
When completed the four projects will represent one-half of the LEED certified projects in Rock Hill. Other LEED building include the West Center at Winthrop University, the Social Security offices, the headquarters for Carolina Ingredients and a residence on Sturgis Street.
Projects are certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. The council evaluates each applicant on a number of factors including energy efficiency, reducing carbon dioxide emissions, indoor air quality, reducing the depletion of precious resources and water intake.
The Stricklands are seeking silver status for their project. The council has four levels of certification, based on a 100-point system. Projects reaching 40 points are certified. To reach silver status a project must have at least 50 points. Gold projects have to have 60 points and platinum projects have a threshold of 80 points.
The standards are tough and even tougher in this case, Andrew Cope said, because of the size of the project. It is easier to get the needed efficiencies with larger projects, he said.
To meet the LEED standards, the new building was positioned on its lot to take advantage of natural light. Each room has LED lights on dimmers. There is a 12 kilowatt solar panel array on the roof that is projected to generate up to 30 percent of the buildings energy needs.
The water system is designed reduce interior consumption by 30 percent and exterior use by up to 80 percent.
Twenty percent of the buildings material are from recycled content, and the goal is that 75 percent of the construction waste is recycled.
The savings come with a cost.
The Stricklands estimated that 10 percent of the buildings $1.6 million cost are because of LEED standards.
While Cope said building to green standards is the wave of the future, he said some are reluctant to do so because of the added costs. Builders are also reluctant, he said, because there is considerable paperwork that must be done to get a building LEED certified.
The U.S. Green Building Council said studies show the upfront costs are offset. The council said operating costs of a new green building are 13.6 percent less, building values are 10.9 percent higher and the return on investment improves 9.9 percent. Less dramatic improvements are seen when an existing building is renovated to LEED standards, the council said.
The final push is on to complete the Goddard School. The Stricklands want to open for business in January.
Once the school is open, the Stricklands and Cope hope the results can be used as a template for others.
Don Worthington 803-329-4066