The Benefits of LEED and Other Sustainability Measures in Kendal at Ithaca’s Expansion & Renovation

Kendal at Ithaca in the process of expanding and renovating its facilities and programs to position itself for today’s residents and meet the needs of tomorrow’s market. When completed, the project will include a new two story, 24 unit independent living apartment building with new covered parking; a new stand-alone 48 bed skilled nursing facility (consisting of 3 households of 16 private rooms); a new centralized entrance and reception area which will create a definitive, useful and attractive point of entry to the community; a new dining café; new rooms for aerobics and fitness, and renovations of the  visiting practitioner area and dining areas, hallways and other common areas.

Planning for Sustainability

Steven Winter Associates, Inc. (SWA), as sustainability consultant to Kendal at Ithaca, has completed a Preliminary Rating of the renovation + new construction project to evaluate planned green building measures and confirm anticipated compliance with the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED® for Homes rating system. SWA has completed multiple successful LEED for Homes certified projects with builder LECESSE Construction and architect Perkins Eastman. Many of the sustainability measures planned for Kendal at Ithaca are drawn from those past successes. To support LEED for Homes certification, SWA has completed energy modeling, construction document reviews, subcontractor training in air tightness and duct sealing, site inspections at pre-drywall and final completion phases, testing and verification, and compile LEED documentation and submit to USGBC for audit and review. The process and benefits for Kendal at Ithaca are outlined below.

  • Integrated Design Process – the LEED for Homes process rewards and facilitates an Integrated Design Approach. Beginning with the development of this Green Development Plan, multiple technical skill sets have been joined together to help create a better project. The project team held two half-day charrettes to strategize sustainability measures for the project.
  • Location and Linkages – Kendal at Ithaca has several attributes highlighted in this category.  The site is an infill property located in an area with existing development:  roads, water, sewers, and other infrastructure are already at the site.  The complex is not in an area of close proximity to wetlands or critical habitat, and it lies above the 100-year flood plain. The Kendal walking trails qualify as access to public open space for occupant exercise and recreation.
  • Sustainable Sites – A low-impact approach to landscaping has been utilized at Kendal at Ithaca. Measures include utilizing only climate-adapted turf (lawn) that does not require permanent irrigation, and taking not to install turf on steep slopes (over 25%), over compacted soils (instead tilled to at least 6”), or in densely shaded areas. In addition, the total amount of turf will be limited to no more than 60% of total vegetated area for the project. The remaining landscaping will be selected from species that are native or adapted to the area and will not require additional water once the landscaping is established.

A filtered bioretention system has been installed to manage stormwater runoff from the site’s hardscapes. Preliminary designs are targeting the site (area not under roof) to consist of 75% vegetative landscaping, 20% hardscapes directed to permanent infiltration features, and just 5% hardscapes on which stormwater is not directly managed. Infiltration is critical for replenishing local aquifers as well as limiting burden on storm systems and polluting area waterways.

  • Water Efficiency – Water efficient fixtures conserve both water and energy (from pumping, treatment, and domestic water heating load. Bathroom sinks will be equipped with 1.5 gallons per minute (gpm) aerators, showerheads will be 1.75 gpm, and toilets will use no more than 1.3 gallons per flush. ENERGY STAR dishwashers and clothes washers will be installed, which reduce water consumption as well as energy consumption by 20%+ compared to national standards.
  • Energy Efficiency is of highest priority to the project team. The builder is experienced in the NYSERDA LRNCP and ENERGY STAR, with multiple successfully completed projects to their credit. SWA will serve as the HERS Rater for the project, providing energy modeling services as well as third party verification, inspections and testing of installed energy efficiency measures. Below are the major energy efficiency strategies to be incorporated at Kendal at Ithaca:
  • Building Envelope – The new construction incorporates 1-3/4” high density closed cell spray foam in wall cavities in addition to fiberglass batts, an approach known as flash-and-batt that allows for superior air sealing and thermal performance at a competitive price point. R-10 continuous slab edge insulation is planned, as well as R-49 blown in cellulose in attics. Air-sealing and flashing details will allow for the building to be virtually airtight and properly ventilated via mechanical ventilation strategies. Windows will utilize thermally broken frames and low-emissivity coatings to manage solar heat gain.
  • Heating, Cooling and Ventilation – The project utilizes multiple energy efficient strategies. independent living units (ILUs) will be equipped with high-efficiency condensing gas furnaces, SEER 14.5 split system air conditioners, and tightly sealed ductwork (tested in accordance with ENERGY STAR v3 protocols). Common areas and skilled care nursing units will utilize Variable Refrigerant Volume (VRV) or Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) systems, with individual cassettes air handlers serving each room. Target efficiencies are 15 SEER for cooling and 3.5 Coefficient of Performance (COP) for heating. In these spaces, fresh air from an Energy Recovery Ventilator will also be supplied to each cassette. The supply air will be balanced by continuous low-level bathroom exhaust. The project will utilize an exhaust-only strategy to meet ASHRAE 62.2 whole-house ventilation requirements. Kitchen and bathroom exhaust will be ducted directly to outside.
  • Appliances and Lighting – All appliances and lighting will be ENERGY STAR labeled where applicable throughout the project. Note that some equipment and fixtures such as range hoods, stoves, and clothes dryers are not eligible for ENERGY STAR certification. Motion and light sensors will be used throughout the complex to reduce unneeded lighting in unoccupied spaces and where natural light is provided.
  • Materials & Resources – Reducing waste, incorporating low-impact materials, and limiting Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are all major objectives for green building materials. All paints, primers, and adhesives will be low VOC as defined by LEED, ie Benjamin Moore Eco-Spec paint. All exposed wood will be free of added urea formaldehyde. Local materials will be targeted for gypsum board and concrete products. Local wood options are being investigated for cost and availability. Kendal at Ithaca will only install carpet and padding in the building that meets CRI’s Green Label requirements. Building materials used in wet areas, ie bathrooms and kitchens, will be selected to ensure substantial durability of the product.  All wall tile will be backed with a cementitious backer. PEX piping will likely be used through out this project, which offers more flexibility and carries a smaller ecological footprint than copper. To manage materials waste during construction, a Recycling and Waste Management Plan will be developed. The project is targeting 65% construction waste recycling to reduce impacts on area landfills.
  • Indoor Environmental Quality – Air quality is protected by first managing pollutants. All HVAC equipment will be closed combustion; nothing can be atmospherically vented. To manage potential radon risks in EPA Zone 1, each building will incorporate best practices for passive radon resistance with below slab piping to extend through the building and through the roof. Junction boxes will also be installed so that fans can be added at a later date if active systems prove necessary. Carbon monoxide detectors will be installed in addition to smoke alarms throughout the building. Bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans will be installed to remove moisture, smells, and pollutants in accordance with ASHRAE 62.2. In addition, a fresh air strategy is required for all space: ILU’s will use continuous low level exhaust with natural infiltration, while the remaining spaces will use a balanced approach served by central ERVs. Furnaces and ERVs and other central air handlers will be equipped with MERV 8 filters in a gasketed housing to manage airborne particulates. A building flush-out is planned prior to occupancy, bringing in large volumes of fresh air and removing construction-related VOCs.
  • Awareness & Education – Upon completion of construction, a building maintenance manual will be assembled to guide proper maintenance of this high performance building during its life. In addition, an Occupant’s Green Building Guide will be developed and provided to tenants prior to occupancy, explaining green features of the building. New residents will be given orientation prior to move-in including explanations of the energy-saving and green features of their units. Building O&M staff will also receive training in proper maintenance of all equipment as well as sustainable strategies for housekeeping and landscaping.

For more information on LEED for Homes, please visit usgbc.org/cert-guide/homes.