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Efroymson Conservation Center

Indiana Chapter Headquarters

Efroymson Conservation Center: A Brick and Mortar Conservation Strategy

Office buildings are necessary for our work, but can they also be complimentary to it?

This question was fiercely debated by the Indiana Chapter as we considered undertaking the design and construction of a new chapter headquarters building in Indianapolis. Our final answer was "yes," but "only if."

The "only ifs" addressed cost, sustainability, and ongoing operational expense. Only if a single building could justify itself in those categories would moving it forward complement our work. Hence, the Efroymson Conservation Center came to be.

The criteria for its design included achieving a LEED Platinum rating by the US Green Building Council (USGBC) and not exceeding the cost per square foot of traditional Class A office construction in Indianapolis. And achieve it did. At the cost of traditional construction, the Efroymson Conservation Center became the city's first LEED Platinum building and rated as the most sustainable building in the state. The media, the industry, and the community noticed.

The extensive use of geothermal and highly visible use of wind sparked dialogue on renewable energy. Permeable pavement, green roofs, and a zero discharge stormwater design fueled pilot projects throughout the city. A landscape filled with native plant community groupings turned heads, won awards, and brought out the garden clubs. More than 6,000 people have visited the building since opening in April of 2010, and hundreds of thousands were introduced to our work via the earned media it garnered. Our ample meeting space has allowed partner organizations and others to host meetings here.

The Efroymson Conservation Center has received many awards for its design, including two Sustainability Awards from the Indianapolis Office of Sustainability, and multiple awards from the American Institute of Architects.

Perhaps most impressively, the dollars and cents work. With the building using 35% less energy and 80% water than traditional construction, its annual operating costs are less than the rent and expenses of the chapter's previous space, despite having over twice the square footage.

But "only if" became a reality in Indiana. This brick and mortar platform complemented the work in Indiana and justified itself as a conservation strategy.

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