Nov 09 2007
Last week I took a tour of NEXUS, Boston’s Green Building Resource Center. An very knowledgeable employee of NEXUS, Shoshana Friedman, showed me around their new space on 38 Chauncy Street in Boston.
NEXUS is more or less the epicenter of green building resources for Boston, MA. It has a product showroom, a material and resource library, space for events, and provide a place for people studying for LEED certification. You can also take a tour of the building from their friendly staff!
I was curious if other similar green building centers exist. They’re a little hard to find—a quick search I did turned up one in Atlanta and one in Santa Monica (which is actually co-sponsored by Global Green USA). Let us know if your searches turn up other green building centers in different parts of the country.
In addition to serving as an educational resource to the building community, NEXUS is a working example of green products in use. They are currently in the process of being LEED certified under the Commercial Interior (CI) bracket. Here are a few “green” features that I found interesting:
Insulation: Recycled blue jean insulation lines the walls in-between dimpled studs. Dimpled studs are steel C-shaped studs with a dimple-like texture. Their construction allows the studs to be structurally sound while using less material than wood or conventional metal studs. The blue jean insulation is made from recycled denim and, like regular insulation, minimizes heat transfer and acts as a sound barrier.
Ceiling: Bamboo laminate covers a recycled aluminum ceiling cover which hides fixtures and ceiling irregularities.
Floor: Parts of the Resource Center have bamboo flooring while most of the surface was made by pouring a cementitious product that self levels and is sealed with a low-VOC sealant. Usually it is used as a structural element to even out the sub floor before applying any finishing materials. NEXUS used it as a finished floor to eliminate the need for any additional materials. Cork, known for its renewability, was also used in some of the office space which, by the way, was like walking on clouds! Find out more about cork flooring at TreeHugger.com.
Lighting: Most of the NEXUS light fixtures are CFLs, dimmable CFLs and LEDs, which use low wattage and in turn save the center energy. NEXUS also makes use of a large wall of windows to light the space. Rather than a solid partition to separate the internet resource center from the materials library, glass doors divide the space so that natural light can pass through, thus negating a need for additional lighting fixtures.
Computers: Nexus uses Earth PCs, which use 80 or 90 watts compared to the 112 or 115 watts used by a typical desktop computer. The LCD monitors used at NEXUS save about 70 watts compared to a typical monitor of comparable size. Check them out at Tech Networks of Boston.
Air-Handling System: Before the space was renovated, it had two mechanical rooms with two air handlers wasting loads of energy each day. A mechanical engineer determined that only one air handler was needed and the new-found space became NEXUS’ library! The system is controlled by a thermostat and sensors that measures the amount of CO2 and VOCs in each room so that heat, air conditioning and air exchange can adjust accordingly.
Furniture: The library’s shelving was donated by a nearby bookstore down the street. Reusing the shelving diverted the materials from being added to the landfill. Plus, the shelves were carried by foot eliminating any transportation impact!
Visit NEXUSboston.com to find out how you can get involved, sponsor NEXUS, or find answers to your green building questions.