While I may have some criticisms of LEED, the USGBC green building program, there's no question that the program is an important step in the right direction. Hopefully, thanks to green building guidelines and programs, green building will someday soon become a standard part of any construction project, and not an afterthought.
Austin, TX, has the oldest regional green building program in the country, with its Energy Star program established in 1985, and the green building program evolving from it six years later. Now, the city's Ronald McDonald House, which provides housing for families whose children are suffering from serious illnesses has been recognized for its new, healthy, and green building.
Austin is now home to the first green Ronald McDonald House in the world. It's also is the first building in Austin and only the third in the state of Texas to attain the highest level of green building recognition awarded by LEED — the Platinum certification.
To find out the green features of this house,
- Toxin-free building materials were used throughout construction and finishes.
- Rehabilitation of a brownfield site means that no undeveloped land was used for this project.
- The sod roof systems replaces greenery used in construction, while also controlling heat island effect. Rooftop gardens also are a place for guests to sit, visit, and relax.
- Native landscaping reduces needs for water.
- A 10.5 KW photovoltaic solar panel system will produce enough electricity for 15 of the 30 rooms.
- Use of daylighting minimizes electricity for lighting while providing natural sunlight for guests.
- Natural ventilation improves air quality, helping children with compromised immune systems.
- Construction of air handling system minimizes shared air in guestrooms, also improving air quality.
If you're interested in finding out more about Austin's Ronald McDonald House, read all about it here.