Local Sourcing Can Save Money, Earn Green Points

by Robert Bell  on Monday, Jul. 26, 2010 12:00 am  

Phil Brandon, who started Rocktown Distillery, is using several Arkansas products, from the grains used in the liquor to barrels for aging and boxes for shipping.

"We're really into trying to service the local economy," he said. "It's smart business and smart architecture. The shorter the travel distance, the less the product is going to cost."

Reuse Saves Money

That was certainly the case for the recently completed Audubon Arkansas headquarters and education center. The project involved remodeling the former Granite Mountain community center on Springer Boulevard in southeast Little Rock. One of the primary building components came from about 25 miles away.

"The greenest building is one that's being reused," said Ellen Fennell, interim director of the environmental preservation group.

Fennell's husband, Tom, was the architect on the $1.3 million project, which was begun before Ellen Fennell became interim director.

Construction was completed in September and added about 1,500 SF to the concrete block building, for a total of about 9,000 SF. Straw bales were added to the exterior walls and then covered in two inches of stucco made from a mix of mud and lime, Tom Fennell said.

This technique makes for a very energy-efficient building that is also fairly resistant to fire, because neither the stucco on the outside nor the concrete blocks on the inside will burn, he said.

"With the straw bales, it doesn't make any sense to bring in straw bales from Kansas. In fact, it doesn't make any sense to go outside of a couple-county radius," he said. "These came from Lonoke."

And the mud used in the stucco was local as well, he said.

In addition to implementing sustainable building practices that will lower operating costs, the Audubon headquarters was also a better deal financially than building a similarly sized new structure.

"We built this for about two-thirds of what a new building would cost. We had significant savings, probably $600,000 or $700,000," he said.

Fennell said his firm, Fennell Purifoy Architects, had always tried to specify that local materials be used for its projects.



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