The city of Columbia celebrated a golden achievement this past week.
On what was once-considered a blighted, "brown field" site, Columbia officials dedicated a new 15,300-square-foot administration building for its water and sewer department, located on 10 acres on West Beltline Boulevard.
The building met the standards for a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, commonly known as LEED, gold certification. LEED is a rating system devised by the United States Green Building Council to evaluate the environmental performance of a building. The program seeks to encourage market transformation towards sustainable design.
Columbia Mayor Stephen K. Benjamin, who is emerging as a leader in sustainability efforts in the Palmetto State, heralded the cooperative effort in achieving a major goal for the city.
“This is a classic example of what we can do when we’re working together and we dream big, when we focus on neighborhood revitalization, when we focus on sustainability, when we focus on sustainability and adaptive reuse, when we focus on just being smart in what we do,” said Benjamin, at a ribbon-cutting event last Tuesday.
The project renovated a former auto dealership building into the new office, which features a green roof and a building designed to reduce energy consumption. Low-flow toilets and fixtures are expected to reduce water use by 30 percent. Construction involved reusing, salvaging of 75 percent of site building materials and using recycled material in new construction materials.
As for the landscape, Columbia removed 2.5 acres of asphalt from the site, which will improve stormwater drainage and water quality. The planting plan also is expected to use 50 percent less water. And, lighting fixtures were designed to reduce light pollution at night.