The directors of the Sun Valley Center for the Arts hope that when a new multi-use facility in Ketchum is completed in 2009, it will have a certification for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), a national rating system for green building issued by the U.S. Green Building Council.
"Having created several programs about the environment, it seems natural to take advantage of this opportunity to actively participate in a process that will result in a better art center and encourage others to make the same commitment to sustainable building practices," Executive Director Sam Gappmayer said.
He said The Center will incorporate the use of recycled or regional materials, will recycle and sort construction waste, use non-toxic materials and finishes, and select systems that optimize energy and water efficiency.
Plans for The Center's new 22,500-square-foot headquarters at the corner of Second Avenue and Fourth Street received unanimous approval from the Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission in October.
Designed by award-winning architect Tom Kundig of Seattle, the plan calls for flexible spaces for exhibitions, classes, lectures and performances. Groundbreaking is contingent upon achieving fundraising goals.
LEED certification is a voluntary process that does not carry with it any legal or financial benefits. However, it does signify that a building was constructed to strong environmentally friendly standards.
The Center accepted an offer to work on the project from part-time Wood River Valley residents Greg Smith, of Urban Visions in Seattle, and his domestic partner, Monica Smith, whose business, BlueGreen Development, provides consulting services to businesses doing green construction and design.
"We are deeply grateful to Monica Smith and Greg Smith, who have stepped forward to support this process in a significant way," Gappmayer said. "They are very good friends of The Center."
Monica Smith said she was "very happy" to help.
"I view this project as an opportunity to demonstrate environmentally sensitive design strategies that can act as a learning tool for students and visitors who come to The Center," she said.
There are currently 11 LEED buildings in Idaho registered for certification, and five that are already certified. Among those registered are two projects in Hailey: the Rocky Mountain Hardware building and the Sweetwater subdivision grange hall and community center.
Registration does not ensure LEED certification. Rather, certification is based on a series of points that measure whether a building is constructed according to the highest "green" building and performance standards. A building must earn credits for site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality, which takes into account occupant health and well-being.
"I've always felt that the arts and nature are connected," Greg Smith said. "When I learned of The Center's project, I saw it as a unique opportunity to demonstrate that connection. I love the idea that people visiting The Center will experience a green building as they enjoy great arts and cultural programs. Hopefully, it will help raise awareness of the importance of sustainable living."
Without LEED certification, it's hard to evaluate what green means "without any testing or confirmation," The Center's Marketing Director Kristine Bretall said.
"With LEED certification, this is a well-defined process that provides a national benchmark for what it means to construct and operate a green building," she said.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, buildings consume more than 36 percent of the country's total energy, are responsible for 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and use 65 percent of its electricity.