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Visioning the Upper Delaware River Corridor   
Green buildings: a healthy revolution in the construction industry


HARRIS, NY — Exactly what’s a green building?

It has nothing to do with color, or the grass or trees that may surround a building or the garden that may be grown on the roof.

A green building, also called a high-performance building, has many of the following characteristics: it uses minimal energy, thereby reducing energy costs; it contains re-cycled and non-toxic building materials; it produces high indoor air quality; it uses natural lighting (referred to as “daylight”) to advantage; it uses low volatile organic compound paints; it uses energy-efficient lighting, appliances and construction components; and it uses native species plants in landscaping. Often it is heated and cooled by geothermal power. And all of these qualities offer no sacrifice to comfort.

This is in contrast to traditional buildings that consume more of nature’s resources than necessary, generate large amounts of waste and use high amounts of energy.

The Center for Discovery

The Patrick Dollard Discovery Health Center is a newly constructed 28,000 square-foot diagnostic and treatment facility in Sullivan County. Built in 2003, it is the second health care building in the country to receive the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leader in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. It was built by the Center for Discovery, a 350-acre residential school campus and non-profit agency, and the largest employer in Sullivan County.

The Center for Discovery is an oasis, nurturing both the livelihoods and lifelong needs of children and adults with profound neurological and developmental impairments.

“This green building is a healthy building; healthy for its inhabitants, healthy for its community and healthy for the planet,” said architect Robin Guenther, owner of Guenther 5 Architects of New York City, who designed the structure. “There’s a clear connection between environmental health and human health. This building demonstrates that,” she said.

The building, which cost $5.6 million won grants and awards amounting to $700,000. It received them because the LEED certification enabled the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to award funding to the project. As a LEED building, the facility won $143,000 from NYSERDA and another $350,000 matching grant from the Kresge Foundation, a group which supports superior examples of the Green Building Initiative Program.

To achieve these grants and awards, Guenther 5 Architects planned and designed a ground-source heat pump system also called a geothermal system. This became the basis for an alternative energy design that eliminates on-site combustion and rooftop evaporative cooling systems. “Because of this system, the center is saving 30 percent on utility cost,” Guenther said.

“There is no pollution or combustion whatever in this building,” said Richard Humleker, vice president for development at the center. “There is no vinyl in the building and the floors are made of a simulated wood called Stratica, which is non-toxic. The main emphasis in all these materials is to maintain the highest air quality possible.”

“What I like about this building are the windows, the pleasant space, the state-of-the-art equipment we have and the high air quality,” said occupational therapist Jacalyn Duczeminski. “You can eat the floor and not get sick.”

Services to the community

The new health center offers outpatient primary/specialty medical and dental services to Center for Discovery residents, saving them the extreme discomfort of traveling elsewhere for routine medical care. Moreover, as a deeply humanitarian agency, it welcomes the surrounding community to utilize its medical services, attracting local residents to drop by on a neighborly basis, whether for the farmer’s market that stands next to the medical center to purchase fresh produce or the on-campus bed and breakfast for harvest-baked bread and planned social events.

“The center demanded that the architecture be simple, humanly scaled and consciously non-traditional, with the aim of transforming often negative perception of healthcare facilities,” Hemleker said. “The center has a core belief that the quality of one’s environment has a direct impact on the quality of life a person experiences. The removal of toxins and reduction of energy usage have a profound impact on the quality of life experienced by people with severe and multiple disabilities it serves and ultimately, the community it serves.”

[Editor’s note: With dwindling oil and gas resources, energy conservation will be one of the principal issues of the 21st century. A recent forum at Sullivan County Community College called “Energy Solutions for Small Business and Agriculture” explored methods to conserve energy. This is the first in a four-part series that will touch on many of the issues and solutions discussed at that forum.]

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JEFFREY MOORE: Destroying it won't 'save'it
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BARBARA LEWIS: Trees: a legacy and a future
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SARAH CUTLER: Share the road
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SUSAN SCOTT: The democratization of information
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MICHAEL CHOJNICKI: A turning point
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JOHN CONWAY: Dual-mode transportation
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JEFFREY SEEDS: One-sidedness
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TOM HOLMES: Taking back the power
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TINA PALACEK: When a community is really a family

November 27, 2008
STEPHANIE TURNER: Gas drilling from a realtor's perspective
October 30, 2008
SUSAN SULLIVAN: From visiong to reality: the role of local government
October 2, 2008
MARY BETH WOOD: Investing in career and technical education
September 4, 2008
JOE LEVINE: When compromise is a recipe for disaster
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VIDAL MARTINEZ: The Upper Delaware experience
July 10, 2008
WES GILLINGHAM: Sticking together
June 12, 2008
LINDA COBB: The Harmony Project
May 15, 2008
Barbara Arrindell: Looking back
April 17, 2008
JO CLEARWATER: Welcome to the new world
March 20, 2008
JONATHAN F. ROUIS: Out of many, one
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MIKE URETSKY: Mired in gas
January 24, 2008
Some visionaries look at 2008
October 4, 2007
Greg Swarz: Coming Home
September 6, 2007
Jim Serio: Educating the Delaware River Basin
August 9, 2007
Stephanie Streeter: Still endangered?
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Molly Rodgers: Be informed, be connected
July 12, 2007
Brad Krumholz: The landscape mind
June 28, 2007
John Bunting: Milk price and power
June 14, 2007
Brian Smith: It's time to work and worry
May 31, 2007
Carol Roig: Celebrating history close to home
May 17, 2007
Debbie Smorto: Be a part of the solution
April 19, 2007
Robert Dadras: Creating a new direction for Sullivan County
April 5, 2007
Dave Williams: Save your local dairy farm
March 22, 2007
R.A. Dubensky: Losing our future
March 8, 2007
Dave Williams: Save your local dairy farm
February 22, 2007
Troy Bystrom: Conserve to preserve
February 8, 2007
Alegra Jennings: Do you see what I see?
January 18, 2007
Amy Gruzesk: A new alliance for business in Pike
January 11, 2007
Grace Wildermuth: Our rural environment must be preserved

December 28, 2006
John Jose: Meeting the challenges of stormwater management
December 14, 2006
Daniel Kennedy: Making memories in Pike County
November 30, 2006
Stephen Stuart: Sustainable Solutions
November 16, 2006
Linda Cobb: The Harmony Project
November 2, 2006
Judy Harlan: What municipalities can do about flooding
October 19, 2006
Samuel Jackson: Walking the talk
October 5, 2006
Jay Epstein: The foundations of a viable plan
September 14, 2006
Tom Kane: The clean water act
September 7, 2006
Skip Mendler: A community of communities
August 24, 2006
FREDERICA LEIGHTON: Flood reality: vision or the lack of it
August 10, 2006
DICK RISELING: A vision of actions
July 27, 2006
PAT CARULLO AND MARCIA NEHEMIAH: Red plus blue equals green
July 13, 2006
Neal Halloran: Greenway: a program whose time has come
June 29, 2006
Steven Sharoff: Strong visions can change the world
June 15, 2006
Heinrich Strauch: Cooking up a vision
June 1, 2006
Jennifer C.S. Brylinski: The IDA keeps to its vision
May 18, 2006
Norma and Bob Santee: Maintaining our environment
May 4, 2006
Don Parry: The “vision thing”
April 20, 2006
Joe Walsh: Keeping farms a mainstay of Sullivan County
April 6, 2006
Heather Brown: Why I came here, and what keeps me here
March 23, 2006
Pat Carullo: We are with the program
March 09, 2006
Helen Budrock: The power of proactive thinking
February 23, 2006
Carol Collier: A basin-wide collaboration
February 9, 2006
Barbara Leo: A birding trail for the Upper Delaware
January 26, 2006
Virginia Kennedy: Our vision—economic and environmental sustainability
January 12, 2006
Tom Zeterburg: At the crossroads of two rivers
December 29, 2005
Sally Corrigan: Hallmarks of a successful community
December 15, 2005
“Better Models for Development” scores a hit - a compilation by Tom Kane and the Visioning Committee
December 1, 2005
Brian Stuart: Protecting an amazing backyard resource
November 17, 2005
John LiGreci: The need for a master plan
November 3, 2005
Tom Kane: The need for intelligent land use practices
October 20, 2005
Michael Chojnicki: The need for intelligent land use practices
October 6, 2005
Alan Schadt: The Town of Highland through a crystal ball
September 22, 2005
Ernie Mattern: Comprehensive Planning in Damascus
September 8, 2005
Jerry DaBrescia: Visioning in Hancock
August 25, 2005
Neal Halloran: Ways to secure open space
August 11, 2005
Clem Fullerton: Flow woes
August 11, 2005
Tom Kane: Options for preserving open space
July 28, 2005
Charlie Buterbaugh: Fishing Days Gone
July 28, 2005
George Fluhr: What's special about this place
June 30, 2005
Tom Kane: There are many visions in the river valley
June 30, 2005
Mary Curtis: My vision for the Upper Delaware River
June 16, 2005
Sarah Sutto-Plunz: It depends on us
June 16, 2005
Green buildings: a healthy revolution in the construction industry
June 2, 2005
Pat Carullo: If horses can fly, rivers can speak!
May 19, 2005
Laurie Stuart: A view from the ridge
April 21, 2005
Rosie Starr: Preserving the Beauty of the Delaware River Valley
April 7, 2005
Robert Burrow: Developing a plan takes study
March 24, 2005
Tom Kane: Comprehensive Plan: The Key to the Future
March 10, 2005
Katharine Dodge: We have a choice: aggressiveness or fairness
February 24, 2005
Editorial: A tide in the affairs of men
February 24, 2005
Jim Greier: Let’s not put our eggs in one basket
February 10, 2005
Elliot Zucker: A voice for private property rights
January 27, 2005
Steve Daley : Visions of business growth and home ownership
January 13, 2005
Laura Quigley : Living and working in the land of plenty
December 30, 2004
Dr. Martin Handler : My list of visions
December 16, 2004
Dr. Bruce Getzan : Bringing harmony to contrasting visions
December 2, 2004
Sally Talaga : Visioning’s first step
November 18, 2004
Michele Ulmer : Be involved before it’s too late
November 4, 2004
Marcia Nehemiah: It's all about the river
October 21, 2004
John Drobysh: Balancing preservation with property rights
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Jeffrey Moore: Raising the standards in the river valley
September 23, 2004
Dimitri Zaimes: The right and wrong of the Upper Delaware September 9, 2004
Frederica Leighton: Combining hindsight, foresight, present awareness and action
August 26, 2004
Krista Gromalski: Turning the Conversation Up
August 12, 2004
Jo Clearwater: Visioning
July 29, 2004
Noel Van Swol: What about Property Rights?
July 15, 2004
Cindy Wildermuth: A call for stewardship
July 1, 2004
Tom Kane: Taking stock of the visioning process
June 17, 2004
Dick Riseling: Sustainability and justice is at the heart of vision
June 3, 2004
Peter Pinchot: Exurban sprawl or livable communities?