Going green on maintenance is latest trend

FAIRHOPE, Alabama – How much waste is generated by tenants at The Windmill Market in Fairhope, and what part of that total can be recycled?

Those are just a couple of the questions that must be answered to earn a “green” operation and maintenance certification for the market at 85 N. Bancroft St., according to Rebecca Bryant of Watershed Green Consulting & Education in Fairhope.

The national Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program offers a variety of certifications for environmentally friendly construction, including the LEED Existing Building Operations & Management.

Green maintenance is judged on actual energy and water usage as well as the purchasing and disposal practices of a business, according to Bryant.

“It is the fastest-growing rating system,” she said of the maintenance system. “People are building less and looking at how they can save on operating their buildings.”

Thirty-five commercial buildings and five homes in Alabama have LEED certification, but so far none have achieved the green operations and maintenance certification, she said.

The Windmill Market and Watershed’s affiliate business, Walcott Adams Verneuille Architects, have registered for LEED certification for existing buildings. Both are also being tracked for LEED maintenance and operations designations.

Architects Mac and Gina Walcott installed a 35-foot-tall windmill at the open-air market while retrofitting the existing 6,600-square-foot building in the fall of 2009. The market is used to demonstrate the tools of green building, the Walcotts said. It also features green initiatives such as a community garden and a water-saving plan that captures rainwater for use in flushing toilets.

So far, Watershed has done a waste stream audit and studied its employees’ commutes to work. Over the next one to two years, Watershed will have developed a checklist that can be used to help other businesses do green maintenance, she said.

Students from Fairhope Intermediate School donned gloves and helped go through the dumpsters to measure the waste and what had potential for recycling, she said.

“We found that 20 percent of what went to the dump could be recycled,” she said.

“The kids learned to use math to analyze a waste steam, and they got to dig in the trash, which was a big hit!”

Another item to be measured includes the community compost at the Windmill Market. Food waste from the two restaurants on-site, MaryAnne’s Deli and Moe’s BBQ, and nearby eateries is put in the compost bin and later used to grow the vegetables at the market.

“This idea of waste as a resource is at the heart of both green building design and operations,” Bryant said. “It doesn’t necessarily require a financial investment, just a change of habit and mindset.” 

By Kathy Jumper, Press-Register

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