It’s All About the Story
The building and design of the first net-zero energy hotel being built in North America is a story being written right now. This innovative green building project is being shared nationally over multiple channels, to hundreds of businesses and consumers.
How the Idea Started
We, Fritz,Kreiss and Catherine McQueen, had never really planned on the Green Leaf Inn project. We had toyed with the idea of a B&B but never were too serious until Catherine came home from a town planning commission council meeting pretty upset. A member of the planning commission told her that Route 50 (the street in front of our home) was going to go all commercial. That was not great news to our ears since we have been killing themselves on rehabbing and gardening their 5 acre home and knew that they would not get full residential value for the home in an all-commercial area.
We called a realtor to get their feedback on the current value and potential value if the land was commercial. And the concept of the Green Leaf Inn was born.
Setting the Standard for Green Building
Throughout this project, we are continually asked, what are you hoping to accomplish and what exactly is net zero? Green Leaf Inn was conceived as a state-of-the-art, net-zero regenerative project. Via onsite renewable energy sources like our 50kW wind turbine, solar voltaic panels and cogeneration system, the Inn will achieve net-zero energy by producing as much or more than enough of its own energy to match the Inn’s onsite energy needs over the course of a year.
The goals, however, go far beyond net-zero. We are creating not just an energy efficient site, but a working model; a living experiment demonstrating and testing the very best in green building, conservation and energy efficiency practices. Our goal is to build to a green standard which will not only meet but surpass the highly demanding requirements of most existing green building rating and certification programs like LEED, or ILFI’s ‘Living Building Challenge.’
Will the Green Leaf Inn be LEED certified?
USGBA’s Living Building Challenge, which sets an arguably higher standard beyond LEED Platinum certification. In order to receive Net Zero Certification, a building must achieve all five of the 20 imperatives of the Living Building certification, including net zero energy. The five imperatives are:
- Limits to Growth
- Net Zero Energy
- Rights to Nature
- Beauty & Spirit
- Inspiration & Education
Basically, we’ve got each of those areas covered. The sticky part, however, is that IFLI’s Net Zero Certification forbids combustibles of any kind. So while the Green Leaf Inn will be achieving net-zero energy, it will not initially be eligible for ILFI’s Net Zero Certification due to the our current decision to generate onsite methane gas for converting waste to gas for energy production. Why do this? Because as a demonstration model, we want to be able to include natural gas as an example of yet another energy source.
The good news, however, the Inn may qualify for the ‘Living Building Challenge’ with Petal Recognition, meaning partial program certification for projects that fulfill the requirements in three categories where at least one is water, energy or materials.
- 40 kw solar electric (ground mount, dual axis tracker, roof mount)
- Three different solar thermal systems: flat plate, evacuated tube, and concentrating solar
- Geothermal for heating, cooling and hot water
- 1250 gallon underground thermal storage insulated to R80 and a 300 gallon insulated tank in the basement
- Cogeneration system operating at an overhaul 90% efficiency that generates according to the thermal load needs of the campus
- Radiant hot water thermal heat used in multiple areas to maximize thermal energy use for maximizing cogeneration output
- Variable refrigerant flow heating and cooling with room controls to reduce room consumption.
- Generation of our onsite methane gas is being reviewed between an anaerobic system, or a biomass gasification system for converting waste to gas for energy production.
Rainwater and Wwater Management
- Permeable pavers and decks
- Rain gardens to slow and absorb more water
- Below and above ground water cisterns
- On site waste water treatment treats water and returns to the ground water
- Rainwater used for plant irrigation
- Gray water reuse for toilets
- Cold water used for laundry with an ozone system
- Bubble jet tubs require no extra water for cleaning
- Low flow toilets and faucets
- Waste drain water heat recovery recycles the heat energy to preheat domestic hot water.
- Underground rainwater and aerobic waste water tanks are also integrated into the geothermal system.
- Metal roofs used for rainwater capture, reduce the amount of particulate that needs to be filtered out with a traditional shingled roof, and will not need replacement for 75 years.
Building materials are being maximized to reach LEED goals including building our own furniture locally from trees cut on the Green Leaf Inn property. They are milled and dried locally. R30 walls and R50 ceilings with high performance windows will be used to create a tight envelope.
GLI is part building renovation. By reusing existing rafters and 2X4s, and recycling over 90% of the existing building materials, building renovations will produce minimal waste.
Sustainable landscaping will use native planting to minimize need for water and invasives. Herbs and vegetables will be grown in outdoor edible landscape gardens and hydroponically grown herbs in the basement for the winter.
Transportation options include EV charging stations and a natural gas fueling station. The GLI company vehicle is natural gas fueled.
We believe the Green Leaf Inn will serve as a testament of a design and building philosophy aiming to conserve energy, preserve natural resources, reduce waste, and lower utility costs without sacrificing functionality, style or comfort.
A green building isn’t an end in itself. It’s an example of what has succeeded and what needs to be improved—which designs achieved their efficiency and functionality goals, which designs needed rethinking, and what technologies deliver on their promises, and which ones don’t.