Recycled Materials Making Big Impact

As green building grows, many construction companies are turning toward an increase in recycled materials.

Those materials can help reduce impacts on the environment associated with the extraction of raw materials and resources involved with making new products, and also help projects to earn their LEED certification. New construction that has at least 50 percent recycled waste diverted from landfills earns one LEED certification point, and new construction with 75 percent recycled materials earns two points.

Projects from across the country are using those recycled waste materials to keep costs down and make an impact. Here are some recently completed structures and their recycled waste figures:

•Orchard Garden Hotel San Francisco, 77 percent.
•Office Depot, Austin TX, 80 percent
•Nationals Park, Washington DC, 83 percent.
•Proximity Hotel, Greensboro NC, 87 percent
Maintaining such a high percentage of recycled waste can be demanding, but construction companies such as CM Black have used meticulous tracking methods to ensure an optimal rate. CM Black is currently constructing the Levine College of Health Sciences Building at Wingate University, and that building has an 89 percent rate of diverted waste to date.

CM Black uses a certified waste report for the project, which tracks all materials in the project and how they are currently being used. CM Black officials receive regular reports, and can then determine how efficiently materials are being used.

“We want to know exactly where everything is going and how it is being used,” said Justin Black, LEEP AP for CM Black. “This system allows us to do that.”

That kind of meticulous following is also useful to earn LEED certification points. The U.S. Green Building Council recommends that builders use several techniques to reach such a high standard, and CM Black uses many of them. CM Black has designated haulers for the materials, and has implemented a thorough construction waste management plan.

“There has always been a market for recycled materials and waste management,” CM Black President Emmitt Black said. “You always want to make sure your resources are being utilized, and LEED certification gives companies even more incentives to recycle.”

Wingate’s Levine College of Health Sciences Building Tops Out

CM Black celebrated the topping out of its latest project at Wingate University on June 22, with students, faculty and college administrators joining in the celebration for the Levine College of Health Sciences Building.

The 69,000-square-foot building is scheduled to be completed by June 2011, and will house the School of Pharmacy and Physician Assistant Studies Program. CM Black and Wingate officials celebrated the “topping out,” signifying that the structural steel frame of the building is now complete.

The celebration included presentations and a tour of the building. The new building is located on Main Street in Wingate on the University’s main campus. It will significantly expand the Wingate University School of Pharmacy, physician assistant studies program and make room for other needed programs in the health sciences field.

“We now have a magnificent building in the making,” said Wingate University President Dr. Jerry McGee, thanking donors and friends who made this project possible.

The June 22 event was capped off by the installation of the final structural beam which was signed by donors, school officials and School of Pharmacy students, who will utilize the building upon its completion in 2011. The steel beam will remain visible even after the completion of the project, located in the building’s attic level.

“We wanted to come up with a way for students to become part of the celebration,” CM Black President Emmitt Black said. “Obviously they are a big part of Wingate, and this will give them a way to be recognized in the years to come.”

The building will be the second LEED certified building in Union County. The architect for the project is Yates-Chreitzberg-Hughes Architects of Concord. The project continues a relationship between CM Black and Wingate that started more than a decade ago. Other facilities built by CM Black at Wingate include the Cannon Hall Annex, Hayes Classroom, The George A. Batte Fine Arts Building, and the Watson & Beam Hall three Student Housing Facilities.

“We are thrilled to have reached the topping out phase of construction of the project, and are still on target to reach our June completion date,” said Emmitt Black. “We take pride and value in our relationship with Wingate, and look forward to working with them in the coming year.”

Keeping the Foundation Strong – Justin Black continues Family Tradition

Justin Black has always known that he wanted to follow in the family footsteps.

As the third generation member of the CM Black team, he’s taken the role as a project manager and estimator for the company. He’s helping bring CM Black into the latest trends within the commercial construction business, all while maintaining the same values that have made CM Black such a success for the past 60 years. Also, just recently in early March, he successfully passed the Building Classification of the North Carolina General Contractor’s Licensing Board Examination.

“There was nothing else I’d rather do,” said Justin, 25, who joined the business in 2007 after receiving a BS in Construction Management from Clemson University. “My goal was to come in here and help continue what my dad, uncle and grandfather built.”

He’s always been fascinated by construction, watching and learning how to become a successful project manager. Some children might not want to take the same path as their parents, but that was never a question for Justin, who saw it as an opportunity to be a part of something great.

“You see what these guys have accomplished, and you just know you can learn so much from them,” he said. “I have been exposed to so many different parts of the process in such a short time. Clinton allowed me to make the choice on my own, but I knew this is where I wanted to be.”

Justin has also helped CM Black push forward in another area. He’s LEED accredited, and that education has helped CM Black stay ahead of competitors in the fast-changing world of green building.

“I really saw an opportunity for the company to grow, and I wanted to be ready before the ‘green’ wave hit,” he said. “I knew it was a chance to better our company so I went for it.”

Green building has surged in the region, and CM Black is ready for the challenge. The company is currently constructing a LEED certified building at Wingate University, and also expects to build another for Cabarrus County in the coming months. Justin said he’s learned a lot about the process, and said that it is an ongoing education because of the continuous change involved with green building.

“You have to be cognizant all the aspects to be successful,” he said. “There’s a lot to know, and the requirements are constantly changing. But we are prepared to handle that.”

Justin said he looks forward to working with Emmitt and Clinton for many years to come. He said it is too early to think about his future role with the company, but said as long as people have a need to build, he’ll be there to help them achieve a successful project while always maintaining CM Black’s core values.

“The thing that they have taught me the most is to preserve your ethics,” he said. “Sometimes that can be hard to find, and it is especially tough in this economy. Sometimes, people can tell you one thing and then do something else. But that’s not how we do it here. We are here to maintain relationships for the long term, and that’s why we do things the way we do.”

LEED Certification on Campus Continues to Grow

LEED Certification on Campus Continues to Grow
College campuses are considered areas of higher learning, but now many of those campuses can be considered places of higher energy efficiency thanks to the increase in LEED certified facilities. Nationwide, hundreds of projects are beginning, as well as other initiatives that will continue to push LEED certified projects into the mainstream of campus construction. More than 10 percent of all commercial starts are now expected to be LEED certified, and that percentage is expected to be even higher at college campuses.

Here are just some of the initiatives that have already begun:

* At Clemson University, all new construction must achieve a minimum of Silver LEED certification.
* The University of Florida requires all new construction to be LEED certified.
* The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will use LEED guidelines to develop a sustainability program for new projects.
* The University of South Carolina has committed to LEED goals in all building construction projects.

That trend has also continued in the Charlotte region. UNC Charlotte recently announced plans for a new 200,000 square foot building that is expected to earn Silver LEED certification. Local builder CM Black also recently broke ground on the new Levine College of Health Sciences building at Wingate University, which is also expected to earn LEED certification. The 69,000 square foot building will house the School of Pharmacy and the Physician Assistant Studies Program.

“LEED certification is an important development in commercial construction because of the financial impact it can have as well as the environmental impact,” CM Black President Emmitt Black said. “We are committed to pursuing LEED certification, particularly at college campus facilities.”

CM Black finishes renovation, expansion of Albemarle City Hall

CM Black recently completed the renovation and expansion of the Albemarle City Hall, a project that added more than 30,000 square feet to the complex and also renovated the original 12,000 square foot structure.

The project will enable the city’s administrative functions to be consolidated into one facility. One of the most impressive aspects of the project was that it was completed on time with a total project cost of $9.5 million, more than $1 million under the original budget.

“CM Black did a terrific job,” said Albemarle Mayor Elbert “Whit” Whitley Jr. “All the comments I have received and heard here say the building couldn’t be any nicer. CM Black is to be commended. We were fortunate to have them on the project.”

The renovation of the historic city hall, which first opened in 1938, began with a groundbreaking in April 2008. The facility includes a new city council chambers that can seat at least 100 people. The facility also has a community training room, a new audio/visual system, and a drive-through collections window. It can also be expanded if necessary in the coming years.

“I really don’t think they could have done a better job,” Whitley Jr. said. “They were a very easy contractor to work with. I would highly recommend them to anyone who needed them.”

CM Black celebrates 60 year anniversary in 2010

CM Black Construction officials are proud to announce that they are celebrating their 60th anniversary this year. For the past 60 years, through hard work, good times and bad, CM Black has been a builder of choice, proven by a significant track record of success that has continued through today.

In order to have success in construction, you have to have a strong foundation. In the case of CM Black, that foundation comes from Emmitt and Clinton Black, who have maintained their father’s vision when he started the company in 1950 by letting their reputation do the talking.

Emmitt and Clinton have been around construction sites since they were kids, sitting in the family pick-up truck while they waited for breaks to share sodas with the crew. They’d fetch tools or pass supplies to workers to help the process, while their father built up CM Black into a top residential builder.

CM Black started by building custom homes for prominent area doctors and lawyers, and also built a home for longtime Congressman Robin Hayes. The company maintained that kind of workload for more than 30 years, before Emmitt Black suggested a radical switch.

“I had met with a lot of architects who had done institutional work, and we decided to start making bids,” he said.

The first commercial project for CM Black was a modest eight-classroom addition to A.T. Allen Elementary in Concord in 1989. An addition to another local elementary school followed, and so did a new band room for Concord High. Those beginnings were the root for a major commercial construction growth, and now CM Black is one of the most respected commercial builders in the Concord region.

That reputation is built through plenty of handshakes and hard work. People who work with CM Black say that the company is built from integrity, and that’s why companies come back for more projects.

“I would highly recommend them for anyone looking for a project,” said Jon Mendenhall, the director of engineering services for the city of Albemarle, where CM Black recently completed the renovation and addition to its City Hall. “When we bid out our next project, we would want to see a bid from CM Black.”

CM Black has built many different projects – including some worth $40 million, and others worth a fraction of that. But each job, no matter the size, receives the same amount of care and commitment.

“No project is too small,” Clinton Black said. “Every project is important to those who are involved with it, and it builds our customer’s trust in us.” That mindset won’t change in the next 60 years. Technology will bring more advances, including more energy efficiency, increased productivity, and innovative approaches. But the foundation of CM Black will remain the trust and partnership that it forms with its customers.

LEED Certification Update

LEED Certification Update
LEED Certification continues to be among the hottest topics in the construction industry. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, green building will support 7.9 million U.S. jobs and pump $554 billion into the American economy — including $396 billion in wages -over the next four years.

More than 40 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. come from buildings, but green building is an increasingly popular way to maintain sustainability for facilities while limiting their carbon footprint. More than 30,000 people attended Greenbuild 2009 in Phoenix, Ariz., in November, which continued the discussion about the importance of green building.

Here is what former Vice President Al Gore told the Arizona Republic before speaking at the event. “The nation’s interest and the world’s interest in finding the most cost-effective way to reduce global-warming pollution have driven a heightened awareness of the win-win economics of green buildings, with better insulation, better lighting, better windows, white roofs and other energy-saving elements.”

Gore also stated that he hoped the construction industry would help fuel an economic turnaround in the U.S. “Construction of buildings is one of the oft-used initiatives to put people back to work quickly,” he said. “Those jobs can’t be outsourced.”

CM Black has already broken ground on one LEED-certified project at Wingate University, and is expected to break ground on another LEED-certified project, a Cabarrus County government building, in the coming months.

“We understand the importance of LEED-certified facilities,” said Emmitt Black. “That’s one of the primary reasons our staff has undergone that kind of training, and why we’re making the transition and looking for more green building opportunities.”

CM Black to build classroom building at Wingate University

CM Black Construction has begun construction on a new 69,000-square-foot College of Health Sciences building at Wingate University. The three-story building will also house the School of Pharmacy and Physician Assistant Studies Program.

The building is scheduled to be completed by May 2011, and the architect for the project is Yates-Chreitzberg-Hughes Architects from Concord.

Other facilities built by CM Black at Wingate include the Cannon Hall Annex, Hayes Classroom and Fine Arts Building. The College of Health Sciences Building is expected to earn LEED Certification, continuing CM Black’s push toward environmentally friendly and sustainable buildings.

“We are thrilled to have another opportunity to build a top-flight facility at Wingate,” said Emmitt Black. “We pride ourselves on our relationship with Wingate and look forward to working with Wingate officials on this project.”

Previous projects completed at Wingate University by CM Black include:

* George A. Batte Fine Arts Center — This 46,000-square-foot complex includes a main auditorium with seating for 528 people, an auxiliary recital hall that seats 275
* Hayes Classroom Building – This 16,000-square-foot facility houses 11 state-of-the-art classrooms and two office suites.
* Cannon Residence Hall and Annex – The residence hall includes more than 17,000 square feet of living space, while the annex added 20,100 square feet of housing for the university.

Getting business in tough conditions

Economic experts have said that the recession that has muddled business outlooks for most of the country for the past two years could begin to make a recovery in 2010. But experts in the commercial construction business said those companies might yet face lean times for many more months. Construction companies are often the last ones to feel the effects of an economic slowdown, since companies don”t typically stop projects that have already been started once conditions worsen.

Yet, once those projects are finished, commercial construction companies face longer, more difficult challenges. They are often the last group of businesses to rebound from slowdowns, because the trickle-down effect of the slowdown means that those businesses looking to build won”t start until they know they are on solid financial footing. Plans for new facilities can wait several months before ground is broken, leaving commercial construction companies in a waiting game.

Then, as companies wait, competition heats up. Projects that once had only a handful of bidders now routinely get 20 or more. Those bidders can then slash their estimates for projects, if only to ensure that they get some kind of business happening.

It can be a dangerous cycle for construction companies, and it can push some of them out of business. But others, such as CM Black, have learned to adapt to the conditions. CM Black has been around more than 50 years and has been building commercial buildings in the Charlotte region for more than 20 years. President Emmitt Black said the latest downturn has made his company make some changes, but CM Black has maintained its founding principles.

Those principles have helped CM Black earn projects such as the Wingate University College Building of Health and Sciences, and allowed the company to withstand the slowdown that has affected every construction company. Unemployment rates in North Carolina are higher than 10 percent. In the construction business that number is almost 19 percent nationally, the highest of the 11 categories tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. More than 9,000 construction workers in the Charlotte region lost their jobs in September alone. After seeing those figures, Stephen E. Sandherr, CEO of the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), called the situation “dire” and “devastating.”

“The only green shoots contractors are seeing are the weeds sprouting around their idle construction equipment,” Sandherr told Building Design & Construction. But CM Black is still working. Emmitt Black credits his company”s longstanding reputation in the Charlotte area as one of the top builders in the region. He also credits the relationships the company has built over many years that have helped establish the trust, care and commitment that has helped CM Black continue to get business. “We have a 12-year relationship with Wingate, so they know what to expect from us,” Black said. “When you have that kind of history it really helps.”

CM Black”s established quality and integrity have helped the company, and so has its teamwork pledge. Every project is considered a team project between CM Black, the architects and the owners of the facility. Every facet of the project is negotiated to help streamline communication.

There also may be good news on the horizon. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) had its highest number of contract requests in October in more than a year. That could point to a market comeback during 2010. Emmitt Black said his company is prepared for whatever happens in the coming months. “We are still in a strong position,” Emmitt Black said. “We haven”t had to bid public work below cost to help us try to make ends meet. We will be O.K.”

Cutting Cost, Not Quality
Commercial construction continues to struggle – companies spent 36 percent less on construction this September as compared to September 2008 – and builders are feeling the pinch

With budgets being pinched, that makes a builder”s job that much more difficult, according to Emmitt Black.

“Everybody wants quality, but they want it done at as little cost as possible,” he said. “You understand why that is, but you still have to produce quality facilities.”

Black said that construction companies can do a few things to help alleviate costs. He said builders can substitute cheaper materials at times to help keep upfront costs down. They can also negotiate with subcontractors for better rates that also help the bottom line.

But, Black cautioned, there are few other alternatives. Some builders can try to walk too fine a line between building something cheaply, and building something that looks cheap. “Before we”d lower our quality, we”d lose the work,” he said. “You have to build something that”s sustainable for the long-term.”

CM Black Building Multiple Projects Throughout Charlotte Region

One of the top construction firms in the Southeast, CM Black recently completed residence halls at Wingate University and is in the final stages of construction on a new city hall in Albemarle.

Those projects, in addition to the Cabarrus building, add to an impressive portfolio that already includes classrooms and an auditorium at Wingate, dozens of retail and commercial projects and other facilities.
“We are excited to have these projects,” said Emmitt Black. “We know that in these trying economic times, it is important to build sustainable projects of the highest quality.”

LEED Certification By the Numbers

31% – Percentage of all LEED-certified buildings that are owned by government
760 – Number of LEED-certified government projects in U.S. as of August 2009
7,500+ – Number of government projects currently pursuing LEED certification
72% – Percentage of electricity consumed by buildings
26% – Percentage decrease in energy usage by green buildings

Future of LEED-Certified Government Buildings Appears Bright

Governments can change course at the drop of a vote. Today’s priorities can become tomorrow’s forgotten pledges. But don’t expect LEED certification for government to be simply a passing fad.

The Charlotte City Council is expected to vote in the coming months to create a sustainable building policy, which could recommend LEED certification for government buildings. Cabarrus County officials have said that they are planning to make every new government building LEED-certified as well.

“This is not a trend; it’s here to stay,” said Mark Hahn, the director of real estate services for Mecklenburg County. “The entire building industry is headed in this direction. To me, it is like buildings that are ADA-approved. That started out in a few places, and now it is a part of every building code. Maybe one day green buildings will be the same way.”

Furthermore, increased attention to green building practices is not limited to the U.S. LEED certification is an international standard, and the number of certified buildings worldwide is growing daily. For example, several buildings constructed for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing were LEED-certified.

“You can already see a trend toward LEED certification in government buildings and elsewhere,” said Emmitt Black, president of CM Black Construction. “Builders know we have to be prepared and knowledgeable on all that entails.”

As the demand for green buildings continue to grow, CM Black has kept pace with the trend. Project manager/estimator Justin Black achieved LEED Professional Accreditation in 2008; this designation distinguishes industry professionals who have demonstrated a thorough understanding of green business practices and principles as well as the LEED rating system.

The primary objection that LEED critics raise is cost. Hahn said construction costs on average are two percent higher for buildings to meet Silver LEED certification standards and much higher for buildings to achieve Gold or Platinum certification. But he said over time, the additional expense can be well worth it.

“You can save 10 percent a year just in energy costs,” Hahn said. “That will easily trump any cost associated with LEED certification. The big thing is that payback. There are initial costs, but it makes sense to design a building as efficiently as you can to make everything more productive.”

There are other benefits that aren’t as easy to quantify. LEED-certified buildings can mean less material going into landfills, a minimized heat effect and a smaller carbon footprint. At least one international study attributes 40 percent of global warming to inefficient buildings.

“The air quality is better, people are out sick less often and it really enhances our pledge of sustainability,” said Kevin Bilafer, sustainability manager for Cabarrus County. “We are really looking at LEED certification for the long term.”

LEED-Certified Government Buildings on the Rise

The belt-tightening that has pinched local government budgets has made it vital for every dollar spent to yield maximum return on investment. When the need arises to construct new facilities, green building practices are increasingly being considered as a way to realize long-term savings in addition to making a positive impact on the environment.

Cabarrus County is planning to break ground later this year on a new office building that will house the board of elections, parks department, Veterans Affairs and other offices. That building, constructed by CM Black, is expected to receive Silver LEED certification.

Kyle Bilafer, director of general services for Cabarrus County, said the county decided to construct an LEED-certified building to set an example for other industries and businesses to follow.

“It’s really part of the county’s commitment to being more sustainable,” he said. “You need government to be the leader and establish that kind of culture. We are sending a message that this is a focus of ours.”

Cabarrus County joins other governmental organizations throughout the nation that have already adopted green construction practices, including Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities, which opened an LEED-certified building this spring.

Emmitt Black, president of CM Black, understands the importance of having LEED-certified buildings, which offer many environmental benefits. He said he is looking forward to working with Cabarrus County on this project.

“We have done all the necessary training to ensure that our building will meet the stringent standards required for LEED certification,” Black said. “We believe that many more buildings will be LEED-certified in the future because of the emphasis on improving the environment and the cost benefit it can have down the road.”

Bill Hughes of Yates-Chreitzberg-Hughes Architecture in Concord said that it is, in fact, now the policy of many governments and colleges to build LEED-certified buildings. He also noted that many of the LEED certification criteria have been incorporated into North Carolina building codes.

Julie McClellan, the senior project manager for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities, said LEED certification even changes the way the public perceives government buildings.

“LEED-certified buildings are considered more valuable per square foot across the country, and people who work in those buildings have a higher productivity and higher morale across the board. Studies have also shown that it can lead to higher employee retention,” she said.

Adds Kevin Grant, sustainability manager for Cabarrus County, “You always want a happier, more productive workforce. And, if you can save money at the same time, that’s even better.”

Key Concerns for On-Campus Development

When a college or university decides to construct a new building or renovate an existing structure, one of the biggest challenges facing the construction team is how to execute the project safely and with minimal disruption to the learning and living environment on campus.

As Emmitt Black, president of CM Black explains, “Safety is our biggest concern, both for those working on the site and for passersby. Since most schools have classes from the early morning through the evening, there is rarely a time when you do not have large groups of students, faculty and staff near the construction zone.”

Pedestrian safety needs should be addressed via handicapped-accessible paths, barriers, signage, signals and lighting. According to CM Black Vice President Clinton Black, “It is critical to clearly mark construction areas from many angles. Students and faculty are often in a rush and will sometimes look for a shortcut to get to their destination across campus. Therefore, it is imperative that you barricade and identify any possible entrance to the construction zone.”

Another critical issue that must be taken into consideration is noise. The noises and vibrations that are common effects of construction can not only cause a disturbance to classes and test-taking but can also be detrimental to certain research and instructional instruments. Prior to beginning construction, it is important to establish noise and vibration criteria limits based upon the use of adjacent buildings. These specifications can be incorporated into the project contract along with the agreed upon hours of operation for construction activities.

Utility work is another potential problem area for construction on college and university campuses. Phasing of construction activities should be designed to minimize any necessary interruptions to communications, data, alarm, temperature control, fire protection and power systems, and these service outages should be communicated far in advance to the appropriate campus administrators.

In order to keep campus projects on track while maintaining the best possible quality of life for students and faculty, a comprehensive construction mitigation plan should be developed that identifies interrelated issues and sets forth strategies to address them. Throughout the construction process, it is also essential for the build team to maintain open communication with campus administrators, staff and other stakeholders in order to foster positive working relationships, coordinate schedules and minimize conflicts.

Spotlight: Wingate University

Over the past decade, Wingate University, a private four-year university located just east of Charlotte, N.C., has completed several key construction projects to accommodate growth in enrollment and keep pace with the expansion of its educational programs.

Wingate’s construction firm of choice for these projects has been CM Black, with whom the university has enjoyed a long-standing relationship thanks to the company’s hands-on management style and their ability to meet requests from the architect and the university in a timely manner that ensures the ultimate success of their projects.

CM Black President Emmitt Black says, “We are excited to be an active partner in Wingate University’s growth. We take pride in being selected to build state-of-the-art facilities that will provide students an exceptional learning environment with all the tools to receive a top-notch education.”

Black also credits the university for their role in the success of their partnership, which he attributes to their understanding of “the value of teamwork and how quality construction contributes to creating a positive environment for students, educators and alumni.”

Following are a few highlights of the projects CM Black has completed on the Wingate University campus.

Hayes Classroom Building
SF: 13,000

The three-story Hayes Classroom Building features wood framing and masonry veneer. It houses two office suites and 11 state-of-the-art “smart” classrooms, which are fully equipped for multimedia and interactive instruction as well as to provide a wireless working environment for faculty and students.

The building was designed to complement the architecture of the adjacent Burris Classroom Building, the oldest instructional building on the campus that dates back to 1933.

Cannon Hall Annex
SF: 20,100

The three-story Cannon Hall Annex was designed by Yates-Chreitzberg-Hughes Architects to create a unified look with the style of the existing Cannon Residence Hall. The annex encompasses nine residential suites, each with four bedrooms and a common living area, kitchen and bathroom.

George A. Batte Jr. Fine Arts Center
SF: 46,000

The $8.3 million fine arts center and auditorium includes a steel frame structural system and masonry veneer. The facility houses the university’s music and theater departments as well as an auditorium with seating for 554, an auxiliary recital hall that seats 275 and a secure gallery for permanent art displays. The Hannah Covington McGee Theater, which hosts renowned performing artists from around the world, features a stage with theatrical rigging and a 400-square-foot orchestra pit nine feet below the finished floor.

College Construction Goes Green

Construction on the campuses of higher education institutions is big business. In fact, according to American School & University magazine, colleges and universities spent more than $17.7 billion in 2008 alone on the construction of new facilities or renovation and expansion of existing structures.

And thanks to growing demand from students, faculty and community members, an increasing percentage of this business is going green. In 2008, over 130 green buildings on college and university campuses were planned, started, opened or awarded LEED certification. Furthermore, 290 institutions of higher learning across the nation, from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire to Claremont McKenna College in California, have adopted policies requiring that all new construction be built according to the standards for LEED certification set forth by the U.S. Green Building Council.

In the collegiate race to go green, Harvard University has emerged as the leader. The university, which has 13 LEED-certified buildings and 23 more registered with the USGBC, has developed the Green Building Resource, a continuously updated collection of best practices in green building that allows others to use Harvard as a model in meeting their own sustainability goals.

Located online at, the resource offers lessons learned from Harvard’s LEED projects. There are roadmaps for obtaining LEED certification as well as how-to guides for executing an integrated design process, lifecycle costing, energy modeling and more. It also features an archive of completed LEED projects at Harvard and a database of innovative green technologies and products.

According to Emmitt Black, president of the Concord, N.C.-based construction firm CM Black, “LEED-certified buildings are becoming more sought after across the board. However, achieving an appropriate amount of LEED points can sometimes be cost prohibitive. Nevertheless some developers are seeing their projects come in under budget and have been able to take that excess money and put it toward LEED components.”

This is exactly the situation for Rowan-Cabarrus Community College’s Building 400, which is currently under development on its North Campus in Salisbury, N.C. Bids for the two-story, 38,000-square-foot classroom building came in under budget, so the school had the flexibility to incorporate energy-efficient lighting and heating systems. It is also expected that 21 percent of construction materials will be recycled and 35 percent will be sourced from the surrounding region, allowing the building to be eligible for LEED certification. The construction process itself will even serve as an educational tool, as RCCC will train 16 instructors how to teach LEED certification.

The trend toward environmentally conscious development on college and university campuses is one that shows no signs of slowing. The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), an association of colleges and universities that are working to create a sustainable future, recently released the AASHE Digest 2008, which documents initiatives at nearly 700 institutions in the U.S. and Canada. As AASHE acting executive director Judy Walton explains, “Despite the global economic downturn, or perhaps in part because of it, the creative energy behind sustainability initiatives is flourishing.”

CM Black Construction Co. Completes Golden Gait Trailers

Concord, N.C. – Concord-based CM Black Construction Co. has recently completed construction of a sales and service facility for Golden Gait Trailers. Situated on 13 acres, the building is a pre-engineered two-story metal structure with front elevation curtain wall. The structure consists of offices, fabrication area and warehouse space as well as 20 service bays. The building was designed by Omni and Associates Architects.