As I learn more about what has or is currently taking place in Jackson Hole with regard to green, sustainable projects and programs, I am excited to report that real progress is being made. Several LEED certified projects have been completed in the past year. They include:
- The Lawrence Rockefeller Visitor Center in Grand Teton National Park. The Center is the first LEED Platinum project in Wyoming.
-The new Davey Jackson Elementary School was recently completed and has received the first LEED Gold certification for an elementary school in Wyoming.
-Westbank Construction built the first 15 LEED Gold homes in Wyoming. This project was developed in partnership with the Jackson Hole Community Housing Trust. In addition, Westbank Construction has submitted for a building permit on what could be Wyoming’s first LEED Platinum home.
-The Pine Glades located on the slopes of Snow King is the first LEED residential development in Wyoming. The project has the first units completed and ready for touring.
-A LEED certified, Energy Star Rated residence recently came on the market in downtown Jackson. It was built on the site of an existing home which was demolished and replaced by this very attractive contemporary styled residence. The builder, Greg Epstein and the designer, Carl Daavettila, put a lot of thought, as well as physical labor into this urban home and deserve a lot of credit for their initiative.
-Bruce and Carolyn Hawtin moved into their beautiful LEED Gold Certified home this Spring. Bruce is a partner in Hawtin Jorgensen Architects, which specializes, among other things, in sustainable design. Bruce recently gave me a tour of their home located on a sage covered lot north of Jackson, just within sight of their previous home. The home and property reflects Bruce’s commitment to sustainable design and practices, and Carolyn’s superb sense of style, color and choice of materials, all of which have created a truly special living space.
-Two local banks have announced mortgage lending programs that reward energy efficiency. On separate occasions I had the pleasure of speaking with Leslie Montgomery of Wells Fargo Bank and Sara Fagan of The Clark Group, a consultant to First Interstate Bank, about their “energy mortgages”. One is called an energy improvement mortgage, which finances energy upgrades of an existing home in the mortgage loan using monthly energy saving. The other type is called an energy efficient mortgage, which uses the energy savings from a new energy efficient home to increase the home buying power and capitalizes the energy savings in the appraisal. The second mortgage I described in effect allows you be eligible for a larger mortgage loan than you might otherwise qualify – all because of the energy efficiency measures you took during the building process. Not bad!
What do all of these projects have in common. For one thing, they all provide superior indoor air quality. One of the reasons most of us live in Jackson is because of the wonderful fresh, dry, outside air (most of the time). However, the quality of air inside most of our homes is far less healthy. When green practices are followed during the remodel, renovation or building process, materials can be avoided that emit volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) – i.e. the “new car smell”. Attention is also paid to insuring proper ventilation through selection and placement of windows and vents.
These projects also show the diversity of building projects that are suitable for and which benefit from green, sustainable features and practices. The quiet, zen-like atmosphere that heightens our senses of hearing and feeling at the Lawrence Rockefeller Visitor Center is created by the green design and sustainable materials used. The young, impressionable children attending the new Davey Jackson Elementary School may be indoors but they are bathed with daylight and fresh air that inspires them to learn. Bruce and Carolyn enjoy Jackson year round in the comfort of a home designed to give them abundant natural light even during the cloudiest of days, and a building envelope that reduces their energy consumption while still keeping them warm during the subzero days of January and February in Jackson.
So, “what’s in it for me” with all these green projects going on in Jackson? It means that architects, builders, subcontractors, suppliers, landscapers are all getting up to speed on green, sustainable practices that you and I will benefit from as a matter of “standard practice” when we remodel, renovate or build a home.
The energy efficient mortgages and savings are also serious money in your pocket for other uses. And finally, you can be more assured of the durability and future value of the significant investment you have made in your home.
Thanks to these pioneers and their projects, Jackson is on its way to building practices that will help sustain the environment we all love so much!