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December 29, 2009

KU’s office facility earns LEED Gold rating for energy efficiency

Kaukauna Utilities’ newly expanded and renovated office facility has earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The LEED rating system is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance, green buildings.

“LEED certification was our primary goal in the design and construction of our office facility,” said Kaukauna Utilities General Manager Jeff Feldt. “Going green was the right choice to reduce our energy use, meet the needs of our growing community, and protect the environment for generations to come.”

Earning a LEED Gold rating, Kaukauna Utilities’ expanded and remodeled office facility achieved the second highest certification based on standards for energy efficiency and sustainability, making it the only building in Kaukauna, and one of only 23 in Wisconsin to earn this designation. LEED Gold certification was officially awarded in November 2009.

The utility’s existing office facility was built in 1979 to house 36 employees providing service to approximately 7,800 electric and 3,900 water customers. Like the community itself, Kaukauna Utilities has grown considerably since that time. The utility now has 57 employees providing reliable hometown service to approximately 15,000 electric customers located throughout a 50 square mile area and more than 6,000 water customers in the City of Kaukauna.

To accommodate the community’s growing needs, in 2004, Kaukauna Utilities implemented a three-phase building and facilities expansion plan. Phase One included construction of a new warehouse facility, which was completed in December 2007 and also houses a mechanics garage and mechanical maintenance shop facility. Phase Two, completed August 2008, added onto the main office facility. Phase Three, renovation of the existing office facility, was completed in January 2009.

LEED-certified buildings are designed with sustainability in mind and offer several benefits, including lower operating costs and increased asset value, improved occupant health and well-being, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. To achieve Gold certification, the Kaukauna Utilities building incorporated green design features such as natural lighting, a highly efficient heating and cooling system with programmable operating controls, and resource-efficient landscaping. A minimum of 75 percent of the construction and demolition debris was also reused and recycled in the project.

“Instead of constructing a new facility from the ground up, we took the more efficient and conservative approach to remodel and expand an existing building,” said Mike Pedersen, manager of generation and operations for Kaukauna Utilities. “This approach, therefore, lessens the impact of a building project on the natural environment.”

Under Pedersen’s supervision, the project was designed to reduce operating costs while creating a pleasant and sustainable work environment. Light monitors and large expanses of windows on the north and south provide reduced energy use and increased use of daylight with minimal glare and disturbance. A white roof and white pavement reduce solar heat gain, while solar water heaters and photovoltaic panels make onsite use of renewable energy.

The expanded and remodeled office facility features 12,000 square feet of new space and 34,800 square feet of remodeled space, including the garage. The building was designed to meet the utility’s projected space requirements for the next 25 years. The project was designed by Berners- Schober Associates, Inc., and constructed by the Selmer Company.

Ian Griffiths, a LEED-accredited sustainability coordinator and project manager for Berners- Schober, said the certification provides independent, third-party verification of a building’s sustainability.

“The Kaukauna Utilities office building was designed with consideration for the necessary elements to save energy, and the LEED Gold certification is evidence that the design was successfully carried out to meet very high standards,” said Griffiths. “This project makes Kaukauna an innovator in action, demonstrating the real lifecycle benefits of holistic building design and substantial energy savings.”

Building to meet LEED’s high standards for energy efficiency and sustainability, Feldt credits Kaukauna’s Utility Commission and City Council for their early leadership and direction. “Thanks to the vision of our local officials who directed us and supported the decision to seek LEED certification, our community is leading by example in the use of renewable energy and energy efficient technologies,” said Feldt. “Kaukauna Utilities’ LEED Gold certified building is evidence of our community’s commitment to a better energy future.”