By Shelley Widhalm

In line with the national trend, Loveland developers and contractors are doing more “green” building.

They are implementing design and construction practices that reduce the environmental impact and efficiently use energy, water and other resources, while cutting back on waste, pollution and environmental degradation.

“There’s a lot more interest in the concept of global warming. It brings people’s consciousness to the emission of greenhouse gases and the conservation of energy,” said Douglas Rutledge, director of construction services for KL&A Inc. in Loveland.

Building green occurs mostly in the public sector but is catching on for commercial and residential spaces, according to Loveland developers and contractors.

Loveland-based developer McWHINNEY is nearing completion on one of the state’s first apartment complexes applying for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED), an internationally recognized green building certification system.

Called Lake Vista Apartments, the 17-building, 303-unit luxury apartment complex — scheduled to open Dec. 4 — is designed to save energy and water, conserve resources and improve indoor air quality.

The energy savings come from a variety of factors, including Energy Star appliances, lighting systems with compact fluorescent lights, high-density insulation and thermal-performance windows.

“We believe that the built environment and the natural environment can co-exist together,” said Mike Hill, senior director of multifamily development and operations at McWHINNEY. “That’s the philosophy of LEED as well.”

The U.S. Green Building Council released the LEED for Homes rating system in January 2008.

LEED, in the market since 2000, has rating systems for several types of projects, such as commercial interiors, health care facilities, schools, retail outlets and new construction of commercial and institutional projects.

LEED verifies that these projects are designed and built using strategies that provide energy savings and improve water efficiency and the quality of the indoor environment, as stated on the U.S. Green Building Council’s website, www.usgbc.org.

The projects are rated at different levels from green to silver, gold and platinum, depending on the materials and resources used.

State and local governments are adopting LEED for publicly owned and funded buildings, while several federal agencies have LEED initiatives in place, as stated on the website.

The city of Loveland is monitoring the city of Fort Collins’ green building program to determine if it is of interest for Loveland, said Thomas Hawkinson, building official for the city of Loveland.

“We always monitor different things going on in construction,” Hawkinson said. “We watch for anything beneficial to the city of Loveland.”

Many publicly funded buildings incorporate at least some green principles, even if they are not LEED certified, Rutledge said.

“You don’t see a lot of it in retail business, restaurants or shopping centers yet,” he said. “The (profit) margins are so thin in the development business, they don’t want to spend the extra money to build a green project.”

Green building, however, is a given in the class A office market, where state-of-the-art systems already are employed, but is less frequent in class B and C office buildings, said Dean Barber, vice-president of office, medical and industrial for McWHINNEY.

“It’s not a significant cost impact in the class A market just to get a LEED-certified building,” Barber said.

Most LEED building is occurring in class A office, medical, institutional and build-to-suit buildings, Barber said.

Building owners find that LEED-certified buildings are worth more in the resale market, Barber said.

The owners also advertise the fact, said Jerry Goldsberry, certified lead consultant at Colorado Pre-Cast Concrete in Loveland.

“Owners can ask for more in rental fees if the building is LEED,” Goldsberry said. “It saves (the leasers) money, too.”

Investing in green building saves on energy bills over the lifetime of the buildings, Rutledge said.

“People are becoming more educated on what’s going on in our environment and are demanding developers to follow suit,” Hill said.