Please welcome Julia Hans, our newest contributor. Julia is a Lowell resident and a member of the city’s Green Building Commission. She writes a blog called Green Sense: Sustainability Made Simple. Today Julia writes about UTEC’s headquarters which was highlighted at last week’s Sustainable Communities Conference:
Last week, Lowell was host to Massachusetts’s fourth annual Sustainable Communities Conference. The first stop on our Green Building Tour, led by Green Building Commission Chair Jay Mason, was to 34 Hurd Street where we toured the interior of the oldest LEED platinum certified building in the country, UTEC. Certified in 2012, the UTEC building incorporates many green building practices including more than 100 rooftop solar panels, an electric car charging station, soy based insulation in the basement, and fans for cooling during the summer. Much of the old building material like bricks, stained glass windows, wooden pews, and slate roof tiles were recycled. And some remain an integral part of the building’s aesthetic.
I loved how a few of the stained glass windows from the former church graced the reception area and how slate roof tiles were used behind the reception desk, serving as a functional chalkboard, and on an interior wall in the soon-to-be café, where the center’s motto was on display:
LEED (leadership in environmental energy and design) certification is overseen by the U. S. Green Building Council and helps to promote sustainable building and development practices through a rigorous rating system. These design practices have an environmental and economic advantage. Not only do they reduce waste sent to landfills, they conserve water and energy, and help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Buildings typically qualify for tax rebates and other incentives.
The center remains a beacon of hope for youths in Lowell and Lawrence and a challenge to all of us to embrace green building practices. UTEC is a visionary place, on many levels.