Spartan Stores YMCA aims for LEED certification

August 2, 2011
| By Pete Daly |
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It won't exactly be business as usual at the new Spartan Stores YMCA opening near Metro Hospital in Wyoming Aug. 15: It's far more than a standard swimming pool and gymnasium.

The $19 million, 96,000-square-foot structure designed to LEED standards is on the campus of Metro Health Village and will have a licensed child development center providing day care for infants through preschool — and not just for children whose parents are using the Y facilities at the time.

The pool is different, too — "not a traditional lap pool," said Bev Thiel, executive director of the Spartan Stores YMCA, named to reflect the $3 million Spartan Stores donated for construction of the facility. Thiel said the pool will include an interactive area for families with "a fun water structure," a physical therapy pool and a training section for swim classes.

Being located on the campus of Metro Health Village, much of the second floor is a unique collaboration with Metro Health Hospital dedicated to health and wellness, according to Thiel.

"Metro Health actually has a sports medicine center right inside the facility, where they'll be conducting physical therapy," said Thiel. Orthopedic surgeons will have offices on the second floor there, as well as a family practitioner, she said.

Ground broke in May last year for the Spartan Stores Y, the sixth fully equipped facility of the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids, according to Thiel. It was designed by Design Plus; with the construction team led by Pete Mitchell of general contractor Rockford Construction.

"I think everyone will be interested in what we have been able to do, using a lot of unique automation not typical to a YMCA," said Thiel. "It's going to be a very efficient YMCA."

Craig P. Janetzke of Design Plus, the lead architect and project manager, said the project began in 2007 and was originally going to be larger, until the onset of the recession. However, the finished structure is designed for expansion when the time comes, according to John W. Weiss, president and CEO of Design Plus.

An indoor track for runners circles the second floor, with eight laps to the mile, which is unusual for an indoor track, said Weiss.

"Right now our goal is to have it LEED-certified," said Janetzke. He added that the facility has already earned points that may ultimately lead to LEED Silver certification next year, after the performance of the building has been documented.

Facilities such as YMCAs are not cheap facilities to run, noted Janetzke, due to large open spaces requiring heating and cooling, and swimming pools that add moisture to the air and also require heating. Dehumidification of the pool area results in waste heat, which will be captured and used to heat the pool, rather than venting the hot air out of the building as in many traditional structures.

There is also significant heat recovery from the office, daycare center and Metro Health facilities to pre-heat water added to the pool as well as hot water for the showers.

The new Y has high-efficiency boilers and water heaters, and a building energy management system with off-site monitoring capabilities so that an on-site building maintenance engineer is not required.

Low-flow faucets and showers reduce water use, and the building has a high-efficiency lighting design and control system.

Design Plus has worked on similar facilities, including the new Wolverine World Wide Family Branch YMCA in Belmont and the Byron Center Community Center. Design Plus also designed the new Grand Rapids Art Museum, the world's first new art museum construction to achieve LEED Gold certification.

Other amenities in the new Spartan Stores YMCA include a "kid zone," where kids can play while their adult guardians are using the facility. The fitness center has the latest in cardio and strength training equipment, group exercise and cycling studios, a family wellness studio that includes a workout room, locker rooms for individuals and families, a community room, chapel, café and activity center.

Surveys were done in the southern Kent County area that will be served by the new Y — home to about 110,000 people — and the regional YMCA organization has "taken into consideration what they have been excited about," said Thiel. She said the surveys and meetings with community leaders, educators and elected officials also were designed to reveal what the community actually needs, without duplicating services already available.

"We will hire between 15 and 20 full-time (employees)," she said, with another 180 or so part-time staff.

The new Y has been actively recruiting members since April, with more than 300 memberships booked as of mid-July. Family memberships are $95 per month; an individual membership is $64 monthly.

About $9.5 million of the cost of the Spartan Stores YMCA is being sought in donations, with $9.5 million in tax-exempt bonds providing the rest. Honorary chairs of the project are Craig and Mary Ann Sturken; the campaign chairs are Ed Elderkin and Sharron Reynolds, and Pat and Kim Gill.

On Aug. 13, there will be a community open house from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., with thousands expected to tour the new facility. A virtual tour of the facility is online at

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