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Nonprofit selects team for net zero building

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(Credit to Ben Benschneider)
The Bullitt Center in downtown Seattle, shown here, is an example of a net zero building. Sustainable Energy Fund, a local nonprofit, will develop a similar building on land it bought in North Whitehall Township.
(Credit to Ben Benschneider) The Bullitt Center in downtown Seattle, shown here, is an example of a net zero building. Sustainable Energy Fund, a local nonprofit, will develop a similar building on land it bought in North Whitehall Township.

Sustainable Energy Fund, a nonprofit based in Lower Macungie Township, selected Ashley McGraw Architects of Syracuse, N.Y. and TN Ward Co. of Ardmore to provide design and construction services for an advanced net zero building at 4250 Independence Drive in North Whitehall Township.

“The building will produce as much energy as it uses in the course of a year,” said John Costlow, president and CEO of Sustainable Energy Fund.

The two firms will design and construct the 15,000-square-foot office building.

Sustainable Energy Fund bought the land earlier this year after looking at quite a few sites in the valley, Costlow said.

“We liked this site, it had ease of access, not a lot of traffic congestion,” Costlow said. “It was something already slated for development.”

The design-build team proposed a net zero building which will serve as a platform for testing new technologies. The goal is to establish this office building as the benchmark for quantitative and qualitative high performance market rate commercial development in Pennsylvania.

Construction should begin next summer with the building complete by April 2019, he said.

Sustainable Energy Fund, which has nine full-time employees, will move out of its current space in Lower Macungie and occupy part of the space in the new building. It will lease the remaining offices to local businesses and nonprofits.

The nonprofit invested about $5 million in the project and plans on using the building to educate the public on net zero technology by hosting educational sessions about the technology, as well as additional sessions on general sustainability, on site.

“We will have a community room in the building and educational center,” Costlow said. “The utilities in the building will be transparent. Hopefully, it inspires them to construct similar buildings in the valley. It could really benefit investors that build small buildings.”

Costlow said his organization plans on doing many things to reduce the energy consumption in the building, from the choice of the mechanical systems to the envelope of the building itself.

Costlow said he is not aware of any other net zero energy commercial buildings in the region.

“It’s something that’s getting more popular as time goes on,” Costlow said.

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Brian Pedersen

Brian Pedersen

Reporter Brian Pedersen covers construction, development, warehousing and real estate and keeps you up to date on the changing landscape of our community. He can be reached at brianp@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4108. Follow him on Twitter @BrianLehigh and read his blog, “Can You Dig It,” at http://www.lvb.com/section/can-you-dig-it.

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