Green Building in the Valley

Thanh -- September 21st, 2007

A week or so ago there was an article in the Daily-News Record titled, “Interest in ‘Green Building’ in the Valley a Growing Trend.” I saw this the day after one of my colleagues came and told me about this wonderfully interesting seminar that he went to – “Design-Build” hosted by Lantz Construction. My colleague who is a crew supervisor at the City Public Works Department, and I assume comes from a construction background, shared with me several of the innovative things about green building he learned that day.

Its exciting for me to see a seminar like this happen – one where environmentalists aren’t speaking in a language that makes no sense to others who aren’t in the same field. In this case at the “Design-Build” seminar, someone from the building and construction industry (Lantz) is sharing knowledge with their peers, who come from similar backgrounds, who speak the same “language”, and who might share many of the same obstacles and rewards.

This article actually prompted me to write a thank you letter to Lantz Construction and also to inquire more about what projects they might be working on that demonstrate green design principles.

I am aware of several green building initiatives in Harrisonburg, and I imagine there are more in Harrisonburg and a lot more throughout the Valley. The Harrisonburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority is redeveloping the Franklin Heights development with the goal to demonstrate that affordable housing can be green. I’ve seen their plans to incorporate open space, energy efficient appliances, green building materials, etc into this project – pretty neat stuff, especially when you consider the cost savings that will be passed on to low income individuals and their families through the lifetime of the energy efficient home.  I believe that HRHA is somehow partnered with EarthCraft House Virginia. EarthCraft House is affiliated with the Virginia Sustainable Building Network. And I believe that the local Habitat for Humanity chapter also is partnered with one or both of those. I’ve also heard a few names like Eugene Stolzfus (local architecht) mentioned in different green conversations. JMU also has plans to construct a LEED certified dining hall, and I hate to misspeak, but I think also a LEED certified dormitory. (If they’re going to develop, they might as well do it right – impacting the environment as little as possible.)

And these are just “buildings”.  These efforts do not include low impact design for site development (the area around the buildings) –smart growth and open space. I hope I’m seeing a trend that they’re catching on, even though its at a slower pace than I’d like.

General question for hburgnews-readers: What green initiatives is your community, your business, or organization taking on? I think there’s a lot more green going on then we realize, and I think sometimes that if people heard more about the success stories, then more people will follow suit – whether its because of peer pressure, support, or education. (This is not to say that I don’t think there is more to do; we are still hurting the planet severely and are a long long way from being able to say that we are truly green and are living sustainably.) 

8 Responses to “Green Building in the Valley”

  1. Justin C says:

    I was at the seminar and it was encouraging, but also a reminder of how far back we are.

    Numerous green materials that were mentioned are not actually available here. Lantz themselves only offers a handful of ways to build green (although they claim to be adding more).

    The biggest thing that stuck out to me though, from the presentation and questions, is that green building in Harrisonburg is only going to go as far as saving money. If a green water system, or green insulation has a lower lifetime cost (which often times they do!) then people will do them. Green just for the sake of being green isn’t popular yet it seemed.

    Oh well, at least it’s a start. If consumer interest increases the offerings will increase as well. Lantz also deserves credit for bringing the speakers in.

  2. It’s great to see this local conversation and excitement for green building. Here at Eastern Mennonite University we have been building green since long before it became trendy. We were pleased to find we recently rated among the top of peer institutions nationally in terms of energy use. Here’s a news release on that topic:

    See our “be green” site at to see how green efforts are part of the campus and mission/vision in general.

    EMU is deep in the planning phase for a renovation of and addition to our science center. Faculty and staff have a keen commitment to building green and creating a building that will incorporate green concepts into the research, practice and study that happens in the facility. We anticipate seeking basic LEED certification at a minimum.

    A number of EMU representatives visited Oberlin (Ohio) College a few weeks ago to see their award winning green science facility. See:

    Accompanying us were representatives from Harman Construction and Mast & Brunk Mechanical, both local businesses that are committed to green building.

    I’m also aware that RMH is working toward LEED silver certification for the new hospital facility, I believe.

  3. Frank J Witt says:

    Didn’t know where else to put this but I just saw the sign for Bio Diesel for sale at the new Dave’s Express for $3.09/gallon…

  4. Thanh says:

    Thanks Frank for that information. If I recall correctly, that station where Dave’s Express is now used to be the Liberty Gas station. And I recall that Liberty also sold biodiesel a few years ago. I don’t know if this is true or not, but I heard that it was some kind of partnership between JMU Alternative Fuels Lab and Liberty, or maybe the students at JMU were studying what Liberty was doing, I don’t know which… I just found this link:, and here’s another article which talks about the City of Harrisonburg’s efforts to use biodeisel in its buses, etc –

    And wow to what Andrea Wenger posted above. I had no idea that EMU was so “green.” Kudos to EMU! Maybe some of the other local universities can learn from them. I’m really impressed and I’m interested to learn more. Thanks Andrea for the link to the EMU be green website!

  5. Karl Magenhofer says:

    Speaking of green colleges. Hats off to JMU. The other day I drove past the football field and the jumbo tron was off. It had been running 24 hours, which I always thought was a crazy waste of electricity and money.

  6. Kyle says:

    JMU caught some flack from the students regarding the wasted energy of keeping the jumbo tron on. If it hadn’t been for the student outcry I’m sure JMU would still be lighting up the sky for no good reason.

  7. Josh says:

    Here’s a JMU event that some of you may be interested in:

    David Orr presents “Design on the Edge: The Making of a Green Campus”
    Thursday, Nov. 8, 2007
    7 p.m.
    Highlands Room, Festival Conference and Student Center

  8. Lindsey says:

    An environmental expert, Dr. David Orr, will be on the Eastern Mennonite University campus Nov 9, 2007.

    He will be speaking at two events:

    Nov. 9 convocation 10 a.m.
    “Some like it hot, but lots more don’t”
    Lehman Auditorium

    Nov. 9 presentation 4 p.m.
    “The changing climate of U.S. politics”
    Suter Science Center, Room 106

    The convocation and presentation are open to the public at no charge.

    More information about David Orr:
    David Orr is the Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics at Oberlin (Ohio) College. He is best known for his pioneering work on environmental literacy in higher education and recent work in ecological design.

    Orr raised funds for and spearheaded the effort to design and build a $7.2 million Environmental Studies Center at Oberlin College. The building was described as “the most remarkable” of a new generation of college buildings by the New York Times, and one of 30 “milestone buildings” of the 20th century by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Reader Tweets

Latest Flickr photos in the hburgnews Flickr pool
Announcements & Press Releases
  • Friendly City Grand Opening Set for July 9

    Friendly City Food Co-Op, Harrisonburg’s consumer-owned grocery, invites the community to come see its new destination for natural, organic and locally-produced products at the store’s grand opening 11 a.m.-5 p.m. July 9 at 150 East Wolfe Street.

  • Friendly City Becomes Member of National Cooperative Grocers Association

    HARRISONBURG, VA — Friendly City Food Co-op, slated to open this month in Harrisonburg, Va., has become the newest member of the National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA), a business services cooperative serving 120 consumer-owned food co-ops nationwide.

  • Harrisonburg Recognized as a Bike Friendly Community

    May 2: Harrisonburg was honored when the League of American Bicyclists announced the latest round of Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) designations over the weekend to kick off May as National Bike Month.