Blog : Developing a Sustainable Masterpiece

By Ali | Jul 1, 2014 | in

By Michael McCord
Green Alliance Correspondent

One of the more spectacular green development projects in downtown Portsmouth should be completed later this year.

Simply known as 233 Vaughan Street, the $15 million project in the city’s northern tier is being developed and built by Chinburg Properties and will establish a high standard of sustainable development. It will combine 9,000 square-feet of first-floor commercial space and nine luxury condominiums including two luxury penthouses overlooking the Portsmouth skyline and harbor.

“The steel started going up in May and you can see the project’s progress on a day to day basis,” said Jen Chinburg, marketing director of Chinburg Properties which is one of the project’s principal partners. “The core and shell will be complete in the fall of 2014 with occupancy in spring 2015.” Carla Goodknight, of Portsmouth’s CJ Architects, is the project architect.

"The journey to create this building began with an idea: to combine three desirable high performance green technologies in a unique building located in a great city," said Goodnight. "The building infrastructure comes at a premium. The frame will be steel throughout to support real trees and a grass growing green roof. The building envelope is sealed with foam insulation and designed to create energy demands so low that the geothermal system design by Petersen Engineering and will easily handle the heating and cooling loads. They have a great deal of experience in this type of application and were instrumental in implementing the concept.

Chinburg said the project’s many green building highlights include geothermal heating and cooling, high performance energy efficient construction and LEED for Core and Shell certification. The four-story, mixed-use building will also have deeded rooftop green space and private gardens for residents.

She explained the core of green construction at 233 Vaughan Street will lead to a reduction of building energy use through a variety of innovations that include:
• Geothermal Heating & Cooling system will be designed by Petersen Engineering, Inc. of Portsmouth. By tapping stable ground temperatures the earth serves as a heat sink in the summer and a heat source in the winter allowing the building to be heated and cooled with energy efficient geothermal technology.
• The Envelope: Reduction of the heating and cooling loads by creating a super insulated and air-tight envelope. Green Cocoon of Salisbury, Mass. will supply two types of sustainable insulation to meet the design needs.
• Doors and Windows:Energy-efficient Pella Windows and Doors combined with Kawneer Commercial Glass systems.
• Green Roof:Adding plantings and various other media to the roof will reduce the cooling load of the building during the summer months.
• Lighting and Lighting Controls: Common area lighting will utilize the latest CFL and LED technology and occupant sensors to minimize the amount of electrical energy used. Similar system will be offered in the individual condominiums.

“For us it’s been nice to work on such an ambitious project in our own backyard,” said James Petersen who founded Petersen Engineering in 1992.

Petersen’s firm specializes in energy efficient and sustainable engineering projects from Maine to Washington, D.C. He said that the installation of geothermal heating and cooling systems have become more common in the past 10 years, however they are still not in the mainstream and especially so in larger commercial projects. He cited the Trinity Church in Boston, which in the last decade had six vertical wells drilled to a depth 1,500 feet, as an example of the viability of using geothermal especially when space is limited for more common mechanical systems – which is an element the two projects have in common. Trinity Church began cutting its energy costs by as much as 50 percent and was named one of the top geothermal buildings in the country by Greenavise.

Candace Lord of Green Cocoon said her company is excited to be part of this unique project which combines breathtaking design and sustainability. “This is the biggest project we’ve undertaken,” Lord said. It’s also challenging because it will require the use of two different types of sustainable insulation. “We will use spray foam for the floors and walls and dense pack insulation with the steel beams that run vertically and horizontally in the building,” Lord explained.

The many sustainable implementations for the 233 Vaughan Street project will include water efficient landscaping, water use reduction, onsite storage and collection of recyclable materials, and use of recycled content. Eric Chinburg, president of Chinburg Properties, believes the building will be unlike anything the city has ever seen. “It is simply the most remarkable design, located in an area of the city that is growing and has that beautiful, edgy feel to it,” he said. “It combines the ultimate in luxury and amenities within a geothermal, high-performance building.”

"This project requires vision and Chinburg properties was the clear choice for development of this unique design. This will be a very special place to live in downtown Portsmouth," said Goodnight.
Chinburg Properties, Petersen Engineering and Green Cocoon are all business partners of the Green Alliance, a union of local sustainable businesses promoting environmentally sound business practices and a green co-op offering discounted green products and services to its members.

Learn more about:
Chinburg Properties at http://chinburg.com
Petersen Engineering, Inc. at http://www.petersenengineering.com
Green Cocoon at http://www.thegreencocoon.com

For more info on the Green Alliance, visit www.greenalliance.biz