READING, PA (August 19, 2019) – September will mark 10 years since Berks County Community Foundation moved into its current environmentally-friendly headquarters. When it opened in 2009, it was the first building in the City of Reading to be certified under the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program. Today, our building is one of 25 such structures in Berks County but it remains the only one in the region to have achieved the program’s highest honor: A platinum rating.
The LEED standards are designed to minimize the environmental impact of our building while allowing it to be a comfortable, functional office space and conference center. We love our home at Third and Court streets, which is heavily used by community groups, houses the only business incubator in the area, and serves as a hub for nonprofit activity. We’ve enjoyed sharing the building with others and we have particularly appreciated visitors’ interest in the story of how sustainable design and construction make a great — and economically efficient — building.
Our decision to pursue LEED accreditation was based on the idea that it would inspire others to do the same and that we could be a model for better design and construction of buildings in our area.
One of the things we highlighted was the great work that Burkey Construction, our builder, did in diverting construction waste away from landfills and to other uses or, in other words, recycling. More than 90% of the construction waste that was generated on the site was kept out of landfills. This was a first for Berks County. Not only was it environmentally friendly, but — even after the cost of sorting the materials — it shaved a few thousand dollars off of our budget by avoiding landfill fees.
I was pleased recently to see recycling bins (pictured above) on the construction site for the new federal courts at the Gateway Building in Reading. The project isn’t even seeking LEED certification but the client required that the builder (again, Burkey Construction) recycle the construction waste.
When we built our building a decade ago, we hoped it would encourage others to pursue LEED certification. We knew that each certification would be worthy of celebrating. We also knew that LEED certification isn’t for everyone but that better design and construction practices are. So, in the back parking lot of a building in downtown Reading, we saw a small win recently.
Kevin K. Murphy, President
Berks County Community Foundation