Life in the municipal facilities industry has made Ed Buonaccorsi a “jack of all trades.” As the general services administrator for the City of Santa Rosa, CA, he dabbles in purchasing; facilities maintenance, planning, and management; contract administration and project management; warehousing; printing; and green buildings.
In February, the Santa Rosa City Council approved the city’s Green Building Implementation Plan, which gives birth to the Santa Rosa Green Building Program – a volunteer, non-mandated program that provides a working blueprint for green development within the city. Buonaccorsi chaired the implementation effort.
“I am in a position that encourages and helps to change our community by working together and forming large interest groups and involving many stakeholders,” he says.
The plan represents a collaborative effort by a wide cross-section of building, design, and environmental professionals, including private developers, government officials and staff, energy providers, marketing experts, architects, and others aimed at promoting and supporting state-of-the-art, sustainable development and remodeling projects in the city.
The program is based on a simple “Green Point” system. There are 357 different points in such areas as site, foundation, structural framing, finishes, recycling, window design, renewable energy, and air quality. Only 50 points are required to qualify a project as a “green” building. “With a minimal investment and a simple checklist that’s verified by an independent third-party rater, individuals can become greener,” Buonaccorsi says.
While the program is reminiscent of LEED certification, local developers were not interested in duplicating the same system. “They wanted no additional fees and were concerned with slowing down the process,” Buonaccorsi explains. “City Council did not want to increase costs or staff, and also wanted a volunteer program to promote and educate our community.”
The program has filled that niche. And despite being in its infancy, it appears the program is already taking off.
“We have one development under construction today with about 30 units in our city,” Buonaccorsi says. “Christopherson Homes will be the first development to be ‘green’ under the city’s Green Building Program. Because the plan is so new, Sonoma State University’s Environmental Center agreed to be the independent rater for this project, and also for our city’s homeless shelter.”
The homeless shelter is just one of the big city projects with which Buonaccorsi is involved. The city purchased an old U.S. Army Reserves building with about 12 acres of land and is converting it into an 80-bed homeless shelter and a recreational gym to be used for public programs. It is one of the city’s first Green Building Program projects.
“The program is the start of something much larger in the Bay Area,” Buonaccorsi notes of the Santa Rosa green initiative. But that’s not to say Santa Rosa isn’t giving LEED certification a fair shot. The city-owned golf pro shop and separate café/bar/conference facility at the municipal golf course will be Santa Rosa’s first LEED-certified building. He notes: “The LEED process is great because it allows all stakeholders to be in the same room. It is the only process I’m aware of that forces the facility manager to be at the same meeting as the architects, engineers, and others. This allows true life-cycle costs to be considered at each phase of construction.”
Robin Suttell (firstname.lastname@example.org), based in Cleveland, is contributing editor at Buildings magazine.