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Walsh College building earns LEED Gold certification

The Jeffery W. Barry Center on Walsh College's Troy campus gets most of its power from renewable resources, captures and filters its water, and converts waste heat into electricity. And now, it has a shiny new plaque to hang on the wall.

The Barry Center, a 37,000-square-foot, two-level classroom building, was certified LEED Gold by the U.S Green Building Council for utilizing green design and building practices. Ground was broken in 2006 and the facility opened for classes in January of 2008.

Christine Stout, director of facilities and auxiliary services for
Walsh College, explains that the project came about as part of a master facility planning process, which in part identified what the college needed space-wise. While not a public institution and therefore not required to be LEED certified for its building project, "We thought it would be a worthwhile goal," she says.

Committee members had originally set its sights on bronze (now certified), then silver, and upon realizing they were close to the requirements for gold, decided to go for it. "We do think it's important to be good stewards of our common resources," Stout says. "We are a member of the community, just like everyone else."

Plus, Walsh being a business college, the committee realized that having a LEED-certified building could have in impact on the business community: When students go out into the business world, they can remember their "comfortable, functional and efficient building."

"They can say, 'When I was at Walsh, they did a building project and it wasn't hard.' It's good for us."

Among the Barry Center's green accomplishments: 70 percent of its electricity comes from renewable resources; every year 7 million gallons of water are captured and filtered in bioswales and a constructed wetland before being recharged into the water supply; and landscaping with native plants that do not require irrigation saves 825,000 gallons of water and $5,000 in city fees annually.

Other benefits include the conversion of waste heat into electricity through energy recovery technology; a
20-percent energy savings via a doubling of the building's insulation; and energy-efficient plumbing that reduced potable water use by 40-percent.

Stout says she was excited to show off the LEED certification plaque, a circle of recycled glass that will be hung in Barry's main hallway.

Source: Christine Stout, director of facilities and auxiliary services for Walsh College
Writer: Kristin Lukowski

WA3 breaks ground on Woodward Tribute in Pontiac

From Chief Pontiac to the Pontiac car brand, the eponymous city was vital to Woodward Avenue's history. A tribute sculpture is soon to commemorate that role.

Ground was broken Wednesday for the Pontiac Tribute, the second along Woodward, to help raise awareness about the history behind Michigan's Main Street and its importance to not only the state but the U.S. and the world. The sculptures are robust columns a story or two tall that depict part of Woodward's history. Ferndale's was installed in 2008.

The structures "tell the story of that community's contribution to Woodward," says Nicole Brown, the outreach and promotions coordinator for the Woodward Avenue Action Association, which is spearheading the project. "The one for Pontiac tells the story of Pontiac's rich automotive history -- its heritage in terms of transportation. It's acknowledging the past and what that area contributed to Woodward, and the world."

Pontiac's Tribute will be at the corner of Woodward and Whitmore, in the area commonly known as the "teardrop." Ground is expected to be broken for the Detroit Tribute later this year. The ultimate goal is to have one for each city along Woodward to recognize each of their unique contributions.

"We're really excited about the project," Brown says. "It's something the community can rally around. It's something that acknowledges what a great city Pontiac was, is, and will be into the future."

The Pontiac Tribute's $150,000 price tag will be funded in part by the Federal Highway Administration National Scenic Byways funds and other contributors. The monument is expected to be completed by mid-summer.

Source: Nicole Brown, outreach and promotions coordinator for the Woodward Avenue Action Association
Writer: Kristin Lukowski

Work set to begin on Utica's pedestrian bridge

Hiking and biking through downtown Utica is about to become easier, as work is set to begin next week on a pedestrian bridge over the Clinton River.

The bridge, a component of the 70-mile hike-and-bike trail throughout Macomb County,
will connect the Macomb Orchard Trail to downtown Utica as well as the Clinton River Trail in Oakland County. It will provide pedestrians and bicyclists with a safe place to cross the river without having to navigate the busy Van Dyke/M-59 intersection.

"The hike-and-bike trail is an amenity that enhances the quality of life for people way beyond the city of Utica," says
Utica Mayor Jacqueline Noonan. "People want walkable communities."

The bridge will be funded mostly by grants from the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and is expected to be completed by this fall, Noonan says.

She points out that Utica is one of the few downtowns on the 70-mile trail plan. It offers people the chance to stop in for some ice cream, visit the library, or make other stops. "It's an enhancement directly to our downtown, to our community, and to the statewide trail system."

Source: Jacqueline Noonan, mayor of Utica

Writer: Kristin Lukowski

LTU continues renovating Frank Lloyd Wright house

A lot of sanding, a lot of scraping, and a lot of staining is how recent Lawrence Technological University graduate Doug Metiva plans to spend his summer.

Metiva is working on and living in the university's Affleck House in Bloomfield Hills, designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, for the third summer in a row. This summer, he hopes to refinish much of the wood throughout the house, including the hallways, bedrooms and bathrooms -- work he started with former fellow student Justin Butler.

Metiva will continue with the project as he looks for a permanent job after graduating in May with degrees in architecture and construction management. "The school is kind enough to let me stay working on this, to finish what I started," he says. "It's kind of been a work in progress. I'd like to see it finished."

Lawrence Tech also received a $7,500 grant for the re-creation of furniture for the 2,300-square-foot house, which was completed in 1941. The house was donated to the university in 1978 and has since been used as a teaching tool for students in Lawrence Tech's College of Architecture and Design.

The Affleck House is on the State and National Registers of Historic Places, and is one of the 50 most significant structures in the state, according to the Michigan Society of Architects.

Source: Doug Metiva, recent Lawrence Technological University graduate
Writer: Kristin Lukowski

Numerous construction projects recognized with Engineering Society of Detroit awards

Social significance and innovation are part of what made several local construction projects stand out enough that they were recognized by the Engineering Society of Detroit.

The Construction and Design awards are awarded annually to projects either located in Michigan or built by local companies. The projects were selected based on the quality of the overall design; use of unique engineering solutions; innovative construction techniques and sustainable design; use of environmentally safe products; and economic and social impact.

In the metro area, award recipients were the College for Creative Studies'
Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education (Detroit) and JARC's Nusbaum House (Farmington Hills), a group home for adults with disabilities. Robert Stevenson, chair of the committee in charge of selecting the winners and senior vice-president of GHAFARI Associates, says CCS's building was socially significant because of its location in Detroit and the schools involved. "From a design standpoint, it was well done," he says. "Some of the things they did were interesting, like how they brought in light, how they handled utilities."

Recognized with honorable mentions were
Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital and Wayne State University's Marvin I. Danto Engineering Development Center in Detroit. Wayne State's engineering building includes outdoor walls that actually lean inward from the top down, but Stevenson says what also makes that building interesting is its housing of high-tech testing. "It's important because it's an important research center here in southeast Michigan," he says. "And then to put that on a college campus and make it look good -- we thought that was a challenge."

Winners from the last few years have had a focus on green and sustainable features. Since the awards are given by a peer group of other architects, that will hopefully foster more innovation, Stevenson says. Teamwork also plays a large part, and that's why the owner, contractor, and designer are all recognized. "We're not an (American Institute of Architects) award -- it's not a beauty contest," he says. "We're looking beyond the skin."

Source: Robert Stevenson, Engineering Society of Detroit award committee chair
Writer: Kristin Lukowski

Detroit Zoo renovates landmark water tower

The animals will continue marching around the Detroit Zoo water tower, but with a new graphic and a new coat of paint on the tower.

The colorful tower at Woodward Avenue and 10 Mile Road in Royal Oak will have the existing graphic steamed off and then be power washed, scraped, and hand-painted, says Patricia Mills Janeway,
communications director for the Detroit Zoo. The graphic is starting to look a little ragged, with the decal coming off in places. "(Passers-by) will definitely notice that it's more spruced up," she adds.

The hand-painting will reduce any overspray that can float down on cars and other things below, she explains. A new graphic, 40 feet by 270 feet and made of adhesive vinyl, will then be applied to the tower. The "critter parade" logo of animals and humans walking across a plain at dusk is nearly the same as the original, except the elephant will be replaced with a rhino. (Detroit's elephants have since retired to an elephant sanctuary.)

"People are used to seeing that critter parade," she says. "They recognize it and love it, and we love it."

The $200,000 makeover is expected to be complete by mid-July, weather permitting.

And here's some Detroit Zoo water tower trivia: It was built in 1928, but only supplied water until 1984. Now its sole purpose is to be a giant, round zoological billboard.

Source: Patricia Mills Janeway,
communications director for the Detroit Zoo
Writer: Kristin Lukowski

Work complete on Dearborn Town Center exterior

The walls for the Dearborn Town Center are up, the parking garage is up, and work continues on the interior to ready it for an end-of-the-year opening.

The 162,000-square-foot building will offer a mix of office and retail space, the vast majority of which will be occupied by 500 workers from Oakwood Healthcare System and Midwest Health Services. Two hundred of those employees will be new.

Progress has continued to the point that the project looks finished from the outside, says Barry Murray, economic and community development director for the city of Dearborn. "Both the building and the parking deck are up, and the bridge between them is up," he says. "All the exterior finishes are close to being complete."

Murray's recent tour revealed the medical suites to be in various stages of completion: Some stud walls were bare, some had drywall, and some rooms have been painted. The timeline still calls for the project to be finished in December or January.

The Dearborn Town Center replaces the recently demolished Montgomery Ward department store. Montgomery Ward opened the store in 1937, expanding it to 93,000 square feet. It went belly-up in 2001 and had been vacant until its demolition.

The brick and stone facade and glass gives the new structure a look that's not overpowering, in Murray's opinion. "I think it blends well with city hall and other buildings in the areas," he says. "I think it's a very important architectural design, and for an important corner."

Murray also appreciates the building of a 530-car public parking garage, which is a more efficient use of space than surface parking. "That's really one piece of the puzzle, trying to create an urban environment that people will come out and enjoy," he says.

Source: Barry Murray, economic and community development director for the city of Dearborn
Writer: Kristin Lukowski

Oakland Comm College upgrades theater, parking lots

Oakland Community College students, staff, and visitors will have a smoother ride getting around campus, and a safer way to get around in the theater, beginning this summer.

Both the Auburn Hills and Orchard Ridge campuses will see parking lot repairs and replacement of some of the roads, which, considering the college is a commuter school, affects just about everyone coming to campus. Plus, the school is open from early in the morning to late at night, almost every day of the year, says George Cartsonis, director of college communications for Oakland Community College.

"As a commuter school, the condition of our parking lots is absolutely essential," he says. "Those parking lots get a lot of wear and tear. We want to make sure they're in the best possible shape so our students are not inconvenienced."

Also taking place at the Orchard Ridge campus will be the installation of stair and aisle handrails in the Smith Theatre, as well as a replacement of some of the floor coverings.

The Smith Theatre stairs are steeply pitched, Cartsonis says, and many events for senior citizens take place in that auditorium. "The investment is well worth it, from a safety standpoint."

All three improvements come to just under $2.5 million, which is the last of the 0.8-mill property tax levy from 2001. Work is expected to begin in phases on the projects this summer and to be complete by August 2011.

Source: George Cartsonis, director of college communications for Oakland Community College
Writer: Kristin Lukowski

Downtown Mt. Clemens welcomes 3 new falcons

Two young peregrine falcons making their home at the Macomb County Administration Building stretched their wings on a day a little windier than what they could handle.

No worries, though -- Harwell and Martha are doing fine, having been taken to a Michigan Department of Natural Resources & Environment rehab facility to develop more wing strength before returning to their parents, Hathor and Nick, and brother, Packard.

"They only had the strength to go down," says Christine Becher, the nesting peregrine falcon coordinator for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources & Environment. "They don't have enough muscle power yet to get back up to where they came from."

The three young falcons were officially named and tagged for identification earlier this month. The names were chosen to honor Ernie Harwell, the recently deceased longtime Tigers' baseball announcer; the Packard Motor Car Company; and Martha Griffiths, Michigan's first female lieutenant governor. The trio, born on May 12, are Hathor and Nick's third set of offspring in as many years.

Hathor and Nick have made their home on the 11th floor of the county building, a height close enough to the cliffs on which falcons choose to build their nests in the wild. Birds who hatch on building perches tend to make their own homes on similar perches later on, Becher explains.

Peregrines usually won't nest the first year after their birth, and they don't necessarily stay close to home. Other pairs have made their nests in buildings and bridges in Detroit, Monroe, Flint, and surrounding areas. "There's quite a few nesting around here that are Ontario birds," Becher says.

Source: Christine Becher, nesting peregrine falcon coordinator for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources & Environment
Writer: Kristin Lukowski

Work set to continue on Macomb County trails

There are 44 miles already completed, with 26 left to go on the 70-mile loop of trails Macomb County officials plan finish over the next few years.

The county is expecting to build new pathways on two of its major trails the Macomb Orchard Trail and the Metro Parkway Trail. Construction is set to begin in Utica and Harrison Township this summer. Next summer, Mt. Clemens, Shelby/Utica, and New Baltimore will see improvements.


John Crumm, program manager of Planning and Environmental Services for Macomb County, said a seven-mile section in the middle of the trail will have a new layer of stone, which is currently too soft for bikes. "We're going to fix that this summer, so it's solid for them to ride on," he says.

 
Also coming are additional trails in Harrison Township, which will connect the neighborhoods to the Metro Parkway Trail, and eventually to Selfridge Air Force Base, which will have 2.5 miles, some along the Lake St. Clair shoreline. The Air National Guard and Air Force have recently granted tentative approval for a bike path, although particulars still have to be worked out regarding security.
 
Crumm says the many reasons behind the $30 million pathway project -- including a vehicle for fitness, quality of life for existing residents, and, hopefully, a draw for future residents -- balance out the amount of work needed for applying for grants. He'd love to see bed and breakfasts, restaurants, and even bicycle supply stores along the route. "It's an economic engine for our local municipalities," he says.

Source: John Crumm, program manager of planning and environmental services for Macomb County

Writer: Kristin Lukowski

Birmingham building goes from baked goods to bucks

Birmingham's former Baker's Square restaurant has a new, but not unfamiliar, tenant. Shore Mortgage, already a presence in the city and metro area, has moved its Direct Lending Division to the 5,145-square-foot building.

Shore Mortgage president Robert Rahal says moving into a formerly vacant building was an "important step" toward both the company and Birmingham's goal of redeveloping the city's corridors and promoting growth. "Shore Mortgage is committed to the communities in which we are located and in which we service," Rahal says via e-mail.

Thirty employees will move to the building, in Birmingham's Triangle District, and another 100 more could be brought on board.

As the Triangle District is centrally located, "we selected this building for its easy accessibility to our growing Shore Mortgage and affiliate divisions campus, its strategic location close to major thoroughfares and to our employee community at large," Rahal says.

Also,
the space provided parking for employees and is within walking distance to the rest of the commercial and downtown district.

"By redeveloping a vacant commercial building, we are confident of the economic future of the area," he adds.

Source:
Robert Rahal, president of Shore Mortgage
Writer: Kristin Lukowski

Northville, Detroit score downtown streetscape grants

Three local communities will benefit from Michigan Department of Transportation grants, which allow investment in trail and streetscape projects.

Grants were awarded to projects across Michigan, with
downtown Northville, downtown Lake Orion, and Detroit's Midtown neighborhood landing investment dollars.

  • The city of Northville will make improvements to its downtown visual character, walkability, safety, and accessibility, while helping promote economic vitality. The streetscape project area includes Main Street, between Wing and Hutton streets, and Center Street, between Cady and Dunlap streets. Improvements include sidewalks, street lighting, benches, trash receptacles, street trees and landscaping, consistent with the work the city has previously done on its Town Square project. The project cost is $1.3 million, including $685,880 in federal funds and an equivalent in matching funds from the city.
  • The village of Lake Orion and Lake Orion Downtown Development Authority will enhance Broadway Street, from M-24 to Shadboldt, and Flint Street between Lapeer to Anderson. This includes replacing streetlight globes and installing brick pavers, benches, bike racks, trees, and tree grates. The project cost is $684,535, including $444,948 in federal funds and $239,587 in a match from the Lake Orion DDA.
  • The city of Detroit, in partnership with Wayne State University, will construct a streetscape project on Anthony Wayne Drive, from Warren Avenue to Palmer Street. This includes building ADA-compliant sidewalks, street lighting, trees, bike lanes, benches, and trash receptacles, which will improve safety, security, and walkability. The project cost is $704,855, including $563,884 in federal funds and $140,971 in a local match from Wayne State University.

Source: Michigan Dept of Transportation
Writer: Kristin Lukowski

Interior work begins on downtown Royal Oak's Flute House

The exterior is "all but finalized" on Royal Oak's Flute House, says architect Keith Phillips, and the interior is now beginning to take shape.

Phillips, co-founder of Brighton-based The Think Shop Architects and the designer of the building, said work continues at the downtown high-end flute store. "Currently we are installing the digitally fabricated black Polyurea exterior cladding where the exterior vapor barrier is showing on the entry cube as well as the residence above," he says in an e-mail. "We are continuing to fit out the interior of the structure, with every day getting us a bit closer to our goal, yet we are still a ways off."

The two-story red-and-off-white building on South Main Street next to B&B Collision will serve as a high-end flute store and the residence of Ervin Monroe, the retired principal flutist for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The retail portion will be on the ground floor, while Monroe's home will be on the second.

The building started out as home to Alegra Print & Imaging in the mid-20th century, and has since played host to a body shop and brick emporium. It will house a 5,000-square-foot retail shop on the ground floor. The residential space above measures out to 2,100 square feet.

Source: Keith Phillips, co-founder of The Think Shop Architects
Writer: Kristin Lukowski


Macomb County receives nearly $2 million in grants for wetland restoration

Macomb County's wetlands will get a boost this fall after the county receives nearly $2 million in grant funding to make environmental improvements.
 
The county's Planning and Economic Development Dept is in the final stages of approval for two grants. The federal Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act has made $1.5 million available for the restoration of nearly 500 acres of coastal marshland in Harrison Township in and near Metro Beach Metro Park. The EPA is awarding about $150,000 through its Restoring the Lake St. Clair Corridor through the Green Streets Program.
 
Gerry Santoro, Planning and Economic Development Department senior planner, explains that the coastal marshlands have changed over time because of increased hard surfaces in the watershed from development, which causes soil erosion to happen at a much faster rate, and an aggressive, invasive grassreed plant, phragmite, which is replacing much of the natural bullrush and cattail marshes.
 
"What the [Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration] grant is for is to restore or to return the natural waterflow in the coastal marshlands near Metro Beach," he explains. "What we're doing is sort of a dual effort, to try and remove the phragmite plants and also to restore the natural waterways closer to what was natural, and to restore those habitats for birds and for fish."
 
With 1.4 million residents, the Clinton River Watershed is the most populated in the entire Great Lakes region. It is also one of the fastest growing. Part of the restoration initiative is to work with developers to offset any harmful effects on the environment, he says. Also, the economic downturn has allowed local and county governments to take a second look at development patterns and try to make them smarter, which will help with the area's longevity and attractiveness to young people and visitors, he adds.
 
Santoro explained that the grant actually takes effect late this summer or fall, starting with monitoring, then engineering and investigating actual changes.

The county is also in pursuit of matching funds through other sources, which would bring funding to $1.7 million.

Source:
Gerry Santoro, senior planner for the Planning and Economic Development Dept in Macomb County
Writer: Kristin Lukowski


Oakland County Executive Office Building receives Energy Star rating; $4M in savings

Saving money is nice, but being green and being a leader are also behind the decision of Oakland County's government to invest in energy efficient methods and technology.


Actions such as reducing lighting, adjusting thermostats, and even using moisture sensors to prevent over-watering have earned the Oakland County Executive Office Building, on Pontiac Lake Road in Waterford, an Energy Star rating from the Environmental Protection Agency. Those actions have also reduced energy consumption on the government campus by 10 percent, saving about $4 million.


Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson wants the energy consumption reduced by another 15 percent in the next five years, said Oakland County Director of Facilities Management Art Holdsworth; Patterson issued an OakGreen Challenge to all communities, businesses, and homes in the county to reduce consumption 10 percent by 2012.


"We've been doing things like this ... as a way of doing what we can to get our energy costs down and be more green," Holdsworth says. "All these things, in total, are a significant energy savings."


Years ago when the county bought the building from the Oakland County Intermediate School District, it installed double-paned windows and other energy-efficient technologies during the building renovation, to the tune of several million dollars. So the green efforts aren't really a matter of making back its investment, but doing the right, and smart, thing.


"Oakland County always prides itself on being a leader, and leading by example, especially among local government, and demonstrate to the private sector it can be done," Holdworth says.


The U.S. Dept of Energy's Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program awarded the county $4.8 million in November to use over the next three years for energy-efficient measures, he explains. "With $4.8 million, we're able to do an awful lot of things over the next couple of years," he adds. Planned projects range from replacing old light bulbs to geothermal heat and photovoltaic solar energy panels.


Meanwhile, Oakland County will open its first LEED certified building in 2011 as it begins to construct Michigan's first green airport terminal. The new terminal at Oakland County International Airport in Waterford will feature sustainable options such as wind power generating technology, geothermal heat, and landscaping that uses rain water irrigation. A number of recycled materials will be used in the construction. The terminal will be smaller than the former building but the space will be used more efficiently. It will include airport offices, a U.S. Customs Service office, and a high-tech telecommuting meeting room to reduce travel time and costs.


Source: Art Holdsworth, director of facilities management for Oakland County

Writer: Kristin Lukowski

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