FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Jonathan Moore
–The Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) is now home to Alexandria’s first LEED-certified residences. Completed in March 2010, these two semi-detached homes have been certified under the “Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design” rating system, an environment-friendly sustainable approach to building design and construction. Designed by Cole & Denny Incorporated, an Alexandria-based architectural firm, and built by local contractor Harry Braswell, Inc., the homes are situated at the west end of the Seminary’s campus at 1509 and 1511 N. Frazier Street. The houses’ traditional style is derived from earlier 19th Century structures on the campus, but the 2700 sq. ft. units embrace 21st Century energy-saving features.
The architect maintained the Seminary’s desire for aesthetic preservation with an easy synergy of interior/exterior green building components. The homes share a common wall, thus significantly reducing the buildings’ overall “footprint,” preserving open space, and retaining more trees and landscape than conventional-sited houses. Drought tolerant landscaping and permeable-paved driveways reduce irrigation consumption and groundwater runoff. Through an aggressive construction waste recycling program, over 75% of on-site construction waste was diverted from the landfill. LEED points were also awarded for the buildings’ location to public transit and other community resources. Other LEED elements include high energy efficient gas furnace and air conditioner units with output based on average seasonal temperatures, water-saving (low-flow) bathroom fixtures and faucets, spray foam insulation for walls and roof providing tight thermal enclosures, Energy-Star appliances, fluorescent and LED (“light emitting diode”) light fixtures, and low VOC (volatile organic compound) paints and sealants enhancing indoor air quality. “Our design encompasses both aesthetics and efficiency,” says Kristine Hesse, LEED AP, the architect for this project and a principle at Cole & Denny. “Efficient land management and energy savings were top priorities for our client,” she says, adding that this successful collaborative effort between architect, contractor, and customer could serve as a paradigm for future residential projects.
Alexandria’s recent adoption of new energy conservation and sustainable design standards align with VTS’s sustainable ethos. Says Dave Mutscheller, VTS Facilities Manager, “We view LEED as an important investment tool providing greater operational efficiency and long-term benefits for all of our buildings.” Mutscheller says LEED has reinforced the Seminary’s appreciation of its unique location, while providing a new environmental focus for faculty and students.
Efficient resource management, reducing carbon footprints, and facilitating occupant health, safety, and productivity are all factors creating pathways to LEED’s point-based criteria. Kim Carr, LEED AP, Assistant Commercial Project Manager at Harry Braswell, foresees more residential projects pursuing LEED over time, though she says certification is currently more prevalent among commercial structures. “As architects and contractors become better versed with LEED practices and concepts, we will see greater incorporation of green building standards among both commercial and residential projects.”
Integrating LEED’s green building principals will continue at VTS, not only as an integral part of operations for their physical plant, but for stewardship of the environment as well. “The Seminary’s Board of Trustees is deeply committed to witnessing the importance of the environment in all our building projects,” says The Very Reverend Ian Markham, VTS Dean and President. “We are proud the recently constructed townhouses were LEED certified. Going forward, environmental values will continue to be a priority for current and future building projects.”Founded in 1823, Virginia Theological Seminary is the largest of the 11 accredited seminaries of the Episcopal Church. The school prepares men and women for service in the Church worldwide, both as ordained and lay ministers, and offers a number of professional degree programs and diplomas. Currently, the Seminary represents more than 42 different dioceses and 5 different countries, for service in the Church.