November 2011: Green & Main–Renovating History, Building Community

“We believe the completion of the first LEED Platinum building renovation in Iowa will encourage other building professionals to adopt these methods. We are also encouraged by the project’s focus on water conservation and storm water management.”
Marian Riggs Gelb, Executive Director, Iowa Environmental Council

Green and Main broke ground on its pilot project in Des Moines, Iowa in September of last year. The Iowa-based initiative is focused on the social and environmental transformation of existing buildings and neighborhoods into sustainable communities.

For the pilot project, the historic Sherman Hill neighborhood in Des Moines will see the renovation of a mixed-use commercial building originally constructed in 1931. Designer/developer Chaden Halfhill speaks of making an impact on the ‘Main Street level.’ He sees the rehabilitation of existing buildings to exceed current environmental and energy standard as a way to foster community and revitalize Main Street.


An 8-HOG Rainwater Harvesting System provides an on-site reserve of water for the Green & Main Pilot Project. Workers install a bioswale in the foreground.

“Storm water management and water conservation are two critical areas that we have emphasized for this project,” explains Halfhill. An eight HOG system will assist in the transformation of 800 19th Street by providing a reserve of harvested rainwater on site. “We were able to adjust the location of their placement due to a shift in design strategy,” says Halfhill, highlighting the versatility of the tanks. Eight tanks, vertically installed, will capture water from the carport and the smaller roofs over the entries. The rainwater will be used to establish native plants, and to clean the parking lot and patio area. A green roof helps to manage stormwater, and to direct excess water through a bioswale to a garden.

With this renovation, Green and Main is leading the way in Iowa as the first Pilot Project for the Sustainable Sites Initiative.

For its LEED certification, Green & Main is assessed on its water and energy use, construction and materials waste, materials used, indoor building quality and the site itself. Strategies include increasing the building’s energy efficiency by 75%, and using photovoltaic panels to generate up to 25% of the building’s electricity. Additionally, recycled and repurposed materials are used for construction. For an in-depth view of the construction practices and green technologies Green & Main is using in its bid to achieve the highest environmental rating (LEED Platinum), click here.

The former corner grocery will host Healing Passages, a midwifery owned and operated holistic health and birth center. The second story will provide residential living space. The building will also be a site for ongoing education about green historic rehabilitation.

To find out more information, visit greenandmain.org.

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