Seamans Helps Clients Go Green

October 17, 2002
| By Katy Rent |
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GRAND RAPIDS — Many companies in the area are taking a leap forward in building design — and taking it a little further by going green.

And, according to Dean Anderson, designer and engineer with Seaman’s Heating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration, it takes green to build green.

However, he added, green is the building process of the future and it is taking flight here in West Michigan.

He said Seaman’s has been using its design/build process to help customers take designs one step further into green building.

Staying within the mission to work with clients during the construction process of a new building or addition, Seaman’s can direct clients to green options, including cost-efficient heating and cooling options, environmentally friendly building materials and meeting LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) standards to qualify as a green building.

Locally, Seaman’s has worked with an area high school, an industrial company and a few other local businesses on having green indoor air quality. Through air quality studies, Seaman’s has determined what type of systems work in which types of buildings to meet specific standards.

Another way to meet standards and make sure the HVAC system is meeting the LEED set of standards, not to mention sustaining the life of the system, is a planned maintenance program.

According to the Home & Building Association of Greater Grand Rapids, energy efficiency is the single biggest concern, with air quality being the second.

“It is necessary to maintain good air quality to have a healthy building,” HBAGGR’s Jeanie Reynolds told the Business Journal earlier this year. “Green building is really an entire process with air-refreshing, moisture-resistant and air-tight homes being the most ‘green.’”

And while achieving a truly green building requires numerous steps, Seaman’s focuses on its specialty of making the heating, air conditioning and refrigeration process as green as the client desires.

“We can really go as far as the client wishes or as far as the money goes,” said Anderson, reiterating that it takes green to build green. “It really can be an extensive process and depending on what type of a LEED rating you want, it can get pricey.”

The LEED Green Building Rating System is a project checklist. Each project — such as water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, and materials and resources, to name a few — earn a certain number of points.

Anderson said that while getting to know green building has been a learning process, it has also demonstrated benefits across the board.

Environmental benefits are plentiful, according to Anderson, in that green building protects ecosystems and biodiversity, improves air and water quality, reduces solid waste and conserves natural resources.

He said the economic benefits show up in a reduction in business operating costs, enhanced asset value and profits, improving employee productivity and satisfaction, and optimizing life-cycle economic performance.

To ensure that a building is truly green and not just “greenwashed,” it is judged and evaluated through the LEED rating system.

For example, he said a building earns two LEED points if its design shows it will use 20 percent less energy than a comparable structure. As energy savings go up from that point, so does a project’s LEED point total.

Elimination of HCFCs (hydro chlorofluorocarbons)and halons likewise scores points, as do a host of other steps.

Aside from the comfort for building occupants and the external environment, he said another benefit of green building is that its built-in precautions result in lower maintenance costs than in traditional standard construction structures.

He said green building, for instance, allows fewer chances of mold contamination and, thus, offsets the costs of one day remedying it.

“We really work with the client to see what would be best for their needs,” said Anderson. “There are going to be times when a customer is looking to improve their green rating and we just have to determine whether it is cost efficient for them to pay thousands of dollars to go from a six to an eight.”

He said that while green building may be a little expensive in the beginning, such expenditures save money over the long run.

“Not to mention,” he added, “putting the business on the cutting edge of development and design and making it a more environmentally friendly place to work and do business.”

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