Utah buildings deemed eco-friendly, energy-efficient

Certification » Seven structures cited for national recognition.
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A year after its opening, the building housing the Mark Miller Toyota-Scion dealership in downtown Salt Lake City has received a Gold LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The certification signifies the building, constructed at a cost of about $25 million on six acres at 730 S. West Temple, is one of the most eco-friendly and energy-efficient structures in the state.

"It was always our goal to achieve a Gold LEED certification," Miller said. "Although if I had known at the time what was going to happen to the economy (and the automobile business), I might have thought a second time about making the investment."

Miller estimated that constructing the building to Gold Leed standards added 10 percent to the cost.

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It is a program of the nonprofit U.S. Green Building Council that provides an independent third-party verification that a building was constructed in an environmentally responsible fashion, and is a healthy place to work.

The ranking system goes from a basic LEED-certified building to silver, gold and platinum, said Ashley Katz, spokeswoman for the U.S. Green Building Council. Each step signifies more effort and success in achieving environmentally friendly construction and energy efficiency.

Katz said that including the Mark Miller dealership, there are only five Gold LEED-certified buildings in the state and two with Platinum certification.

"I really doubt there will ever be an automobile dealership that will be able to achieve Platinum certification," Miller said.

Automobile dealers by their very nature use a lot of energy. They also frequently have automobiles whose engines are running in the service bays, and occasionally on the sales floor, which present air quality challenges that have to be overcome.

Still, Miller said his building is performing as expected, consuming 25 percent less energy than a typical building. Among its eco-friendly features are:

» An innovative skylight system to optimize natural daylight.

» Low-flow faucets and toilets, as well as waterless urinals, to conserve water.

» A cistern system to collect rainwater, which is used to wash cars.

» Exterior cladding and interior finishes made entirely from recycled and other environmentally friendly materials, and

» High-speed doors that provide access for automobiles to the showrooms and services bay. They cut down on the loss of hot or cool air from the dealership, depending upon the season.

Miller said many customers have offered positive comments. "They really like the building, but I don't think they love it as much as our employees."


Top LEED buildings in Utah

Platinum Level:

Daybreak Corporate Center, South Jordan

Swaner EcoCenter, Park City (pending)

Gold Level

Mark Miller Toyota-Scion, Salt Lake City

Big-D Construction headquarters, Salt Lake City

CCI Training & Conference Facility, Salt Lake City

Escalante Science Center, Escalante

Salt Palace Expansion Phase III, Salt Lake City

Source: U.S. Green Building Council