Matanuska-Susitna Borough

First LEED Gold industrial building in Alaska

Mat-Su | Patty Sullivan | Tuesday, December 20, 2011

LEEDplaqueMAT-SU— The Matanuska-Susitna Borough continues to lead the state in constructing energy efficient and sustainable buildings. The year-old community recycling center is the first industrial facility in Alaska to be LEED certified at the Gold level. Today MAT-SU Borough Mayor Larry DeVilbiss accepted a glass plaque for the achievement.

LEED Is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It’s a third-party certification program and a nationally accepted benchmark. Mayor DeVilbiss accepted the plaque from Mark Masteller, the Alaska Director for the Cascadia Green Building Council and a former Chair of the Borough Planning Commission. Masteller spoke before a small gathering in the recycling center classroom off 49th State Street near Palmer.

“Achieving better buildings—including LEED certification—truly involves an integrated team approach. As we move forward in Alaska, and especially given the growing concern about energy costs, we need stellar examples of leadership like this,” Masteller said.

“The MAT-SU Borough has shown that leadership in the arena of high-performance buildings, with the farthest-north LEED schools in the world, and now the first LEED-Gold Industrial building in the state,” he said.

LEEDgroup2Mayor DeVilbiss highlighted the savings for taxpayers on such buildings.  The recycling center alone will save a projected $8,916 annually in utility costs, he said. The first LEED certified school in the state is the Machetanz Elementary School. Its utility costs, under traditional building standards, would have been $300,000 annually. Under LEED standards they were expected to be $85,000. The annual utility costs turned out to be $64,000, DeVilbiss said. “It’s important to build it right, up front,” DeVilbiss said.

Mollie Boyer is Executive Director of the Valley Community for Recycling Solutions, the nonprofit that LEEDxmas2operates the recycling center for the Borough. Boyer said the center achieved the Gold LEED certification. because how the building was made reflects its ongoing activities. 

Architect Jason Collins of Wolf Architecture was credited with working hard to incorporate the LEED-related design elements in the project, and then shepherding it through the lengthy verification process. Collins said the building contains the five components of LEED: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality.

Among the highlights:

• The building uses 50 percent of the energy compared to standard code construction 

• an array of solar panels on the outside 3 percent of the energy of the building

• the windows are triple-paned for insulation, yet unlike most triple-paned windows these allow 70 percent light transmittance. Another perk: the windows are made locally in Fairbanks, and they are themselves made from recycled goods

• the boilers are the highest efficient boilers on the market with 94 percent efficiency

• the lights are highly efficient, with movement sensors to turn on when someone is in the room and to shut down when someone leaves it

• the ventilation system is not constantly bringing fresh air into the building wasting energy, but is triggered by demand. Sensors for example pick up whether a truck has entered the facility with exhaust and fresh air is required.

• 95 percent of the construction material waste was recycled. In most job sites, 0 is recycled. The drywall and blocking, for example, were turned into mulch along pathways.

• 45 percent of the building was made from recycled materials

• 20 percent of the building materials were local, including the windows, the newspaper insulation at classroom/office walls, and the concrete floor

• 66 percent of the steel shell came from recycled steel

LEEDwall2Also attending: Assembly Member Warren Keogh, VCRS Board Director Dewey Taylor, Mary Kvalheim with U.S. Sen. Mark Begich’s office, MAT-SU Borough Manager John Moosey, Gary Wolf and Jason Collins of Wolf Architecture, Butch Ehman of FE Contracting, Borough Public Works Director Shaune O’Neil, among others.

For more information call Borough Public Affairs Director Patty Sullivan 907.745-9577 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Photos by Patty Sullivan/MSB. Group photo, left to right: Mollie Boyer-VCRS, Butch Ehman of FE Contracting, Mark Masteller of US Green Building Council (USGBC), Gary Wolf of Wolf Architecture, Jason Collins of Wolf, Jeff Walden Borough project manager, and Borough Mayor Larry DeVilbiss.

Top photo: the glass plaque given to the Borough for the LEED Gold certification for the recycling center. Right photo: Holiday wreath made entirely out of recycled materials hangs on the doorway of VCRS. Left bottom photo: Even the insulation in the walls of the classroom and offices of the recycling center are made with 16 inches of recycled newspaper as shown here. The company Therma-Kool recovered newspaper from the waste stream and turned it into a product: cellulose insulation.



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