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Sustainable buildings sprouting in Willits

Locations: News Published

On Thursday, June 30, Amanda Poindexter helped organize a tour of the electrical buildings in Willits for both U.S. Green Building Council members and the general public.

After a brief meet and greet, the tour explored two buildings. The first was The Hub, which is primarily housing for Aspen Skiing Company (SkiCo) employees. The second building was The Arts Campus at Willits (TACAW), a new performing arts center.

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The tour was primarily guided by two SkiCo employees, Phillip Jeffreys, director of housing development, and Ryland French, director of facility operations and energy. 

Starting at The Hub, Jeffreys began by sharing some simple facts about the building. In this building, there are roughly 150 bedrooms and 84 bathrooms. Along with housing SkiCo employees, they also have a mission to house early childcare providers. On another note, Jeffreys is a strong believer in having no parking garages, so if a resident needs a parking spot it will be ground level for a slight extra fee.

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Moving inside to an apartment with three bedrooms, Jeffreys and French discussed various features. For example, two of the bedrooms had loft bedding with a desk and storage on the bottom, and stairs to the bed on top. Also, the walls were designed to be soundproof.

Then began the more in-depth discussion on how the building is run with renewable energy. French stressed how essential it is to “use data and science to make important decisions” while developing electrical buildings.

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The top of the roof contains most of the machinery that makes this possible. Solar panels, space heaters and air to water heat pump systems are all ways the buildings run fully electric.

There was heavy discussion about the air to water heat pump systems and concern about below freezing temperatures common in the winter. The guides explained that these systems are very good at enduring in negative conditions, functioning even when temps drop to -24 degrees. The heaters, meanwhile, can maintain up to 140 degrees, guaranteeing hot temps for showers, sinks, etc.

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TACAW had a very similar set-up, except there were half the amount of water heaters in the basement and likely not as many solar panels on the roof. But it was all similarly run with renewable energy.

After exploring both buildings, it is clear that the use of all electric energy is rather efficient. Even with substantial funding needed to build these projects, it becomes clear that renewable energy is more efficient and beneficial in the long run.

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Tags: #electric #Marlo Bowman #Solar #TACAW #Willits
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