CASPER — When it opened this week, the remodeled Episcopal Diocese in downtown Casper became one of only a handful of buildings in Wyoming to comply with nationally recognized green building guidelines.
The diocese incorporates principles from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design system, which aims to reduce a building’s impact on the environment. The remodel incorporated renewable and recycled materials, and equipped the building with energy-efficient heating and lighting systems.
“I think we just want to be good stewards of the environment,” said John Masters, executive director of the Episcopal Foundation for Wyoming, the nonprofit group behind the remodel.
In opting for a green building design, the foundation wanted to model good environmental practices to churches in the diocese, and the community as a whole, Masters said.
“They consciously made the decision that we would probably end up spending a little extra money, but we would have a model ... on what could be done with an old building,” he said.
The green design also keeps with the Episcopal Church’s national commitment to the environment, said Andrew Kerr, communication director for the Wyoming diocese.
During the remodel, workers installed an energy-efficient heating system in the roughly 50-year-old building and took advantage of as much natural light as possible, Masters said.
Designers also found ways to reuse material from the old building rather than sending it to a landfill. That included doors and interior glass that existed when the building was used as a law office.
Old material that couldn’t be used, such as the drywall, was recycled when possible.
The green design was more expensive, Maters said, but it will also reduce the building’s energy and maintenance costs. Other benefits are more difficult to quantify.
“Employee health and well-being, for example, is hard to measure in terms of dollars,” he said.
Seven buildings in Wyoming have been certified under the LEED system, according to John Griffith, chairman of the Wyoming Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council. About the same number of buildings are going through the certification process or are under construction.
“We are also seeing a lot more buildings that are being designed and built using those same principles, but are not seeking the certification,” Griffith said.
The diocese is the second building in Casper to comply with the council’s LEED guidelines, Griffith said. The first was a new Verizon store on East Second Street.
A building can be constructed according to green building guidelines at no additional cost, according to Griffith. However, green remodel projects will cost more than traditional construction.
Some school districts in Wyoming that completed projects with green design principles spent 20 to 30 percent less on energy, Griffith said.
“The benefit for owners long-term is the life cycle costs of the building are dramatically reduced,” he said.
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