Green building goes goldPublished 10:35pm Wednesday, May 2, 2012
The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, Wightman and Associates Inc. and community members gathered Wednesday to the beat of Jason Wesaw’s drum as it played a ceremonial honor song to celebrate the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification award for the new Pokagon Community Center in Dowagiac.
The gathering also served as a dedication ceremony with Pokagon elder Clarence White reciting a prayer to bless the building.
“This is great,” Matthew Wesaw, tribal chairman, said. “This building will now be apart of the community. It’s just the beginning.”
The new facility is the first in southwest Michigan to receive the gold rating on the LEED Green Building Rating System through the U.S. Green Building Council, an internationally accepted benchmark for high-performance green buildings. The community center’ gained recognition and praise for its uses of solar design features, including a green roof with live plants, solar panels and a geothermal heating and cooling system, which will reduce the building’s overall utility load.
“This building will be 26 percent more (energy) efficient than another building of its size because of the photovoltaic panels and high-efficiency lighting systems,” Chris Brayak, architect for the community center, said.
Professor Lynne Dearborn from the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois was presented an award for her and her students’ contribution to the planning of the center. Jennifer Manville, a representative of the Environmental Protection Agency’s fifth region, also accepted a plaque along with Brian Gillen, a Native Programs specialist with the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Wightman and Associates Inc.accepted an award for their work on the community center.
The green features of the building are what led the center to be awarded the only gold certification in Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties.
“We initially were looking at the silver certification, but the client (Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians) is really what drove us to achieve the gold rating,” Brayak said. “It’s really a great thing.”