Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A paler shade of green

CLARIFICATION (May 21, 2012): Mike Kenner finally got back with me with a request that I take scrub the original post below off the blog. He insists that he never mentioned LEED to Salemtown reps in August last year and that his company never planned on this development being LEED-certified. Freddie O'Connell, who was the Salemtown officer mentioned below who reported to the association that Mr. Kenner told him he was planning on LEED, responded to the developer's request that, while he acknowledges that it was his own interpretation of the August discussion, he stands by his original report to the association.

So, we are left with two different interpretations of what was said about the original discussion about the rezoning and plans for the development at 5th and Coffee. The issue is not the development itself (as I point out below, there is absolutely nothing wrong with Energy Star). The question remains, "What was communicated?" and that question causes me to want to be more diligent about combing over the details of future requests for rezoning by Kenner McLean in Salemtown. There is nothing sinister about my decision to pay closer attention if the development company seeks mixed use rezoning should they purchase more property. Rezoning requests involve a public process, which includes community feedback. I am simply trying to relate my views on planning and zoning as I always have here. Granted, developers have not always appreciated my views because they do not always share my priorities.

But with this update, you the readers can make your own judgments about what was said. The developer says he never intended nor introduced LEED. The former SNNA president interpreted the developer to say he planned on LEED-certification. You can make up your own mind.

Townhouses being built at the corner of 5th and Coffee seem to have become less green than originally described when developers made their pitch to get community support for rezoning.

Last August, a Salemtown officer met Kenner McLean Development executive Mike Kenner to discuss their proposal and reported back to the association:

While his plans aren't ideal, I do think they overall bring what was equivalent to a vacant lot forward a bit in terms of progress .... project planned to be LEED-certified, reasonable price points, one unit already pre-sold, designed to be owner-occupied (not a guarantee, mind you).

Between August and February of this year, developers apparently backed away from projections of LEED certification, actually choosing "Energy Star-rated" structures instead.

The difference between LEED and Energy Star, according to

Energy Star was created by the EPA in 1992 and provides commercial building owners with strategic energy management plans designed to benefit both the environment and the owner's bottom line. Energy Star is designed to measure a building's performance, create practical operating (energy use) benchmarks/goals, help monitor performance and also reward energy efficiency ....
LEED operates through the U.S. Green Building Council and takes a much broader "triple bottom line" approach considering people, planet and profit, not just energy use. The triple bottom line factors in the economic, environmental and social issues present throughout the entire building process from concept, design, development and future operation.
LEED is a highly quantified and systematic approach to buildings of all types. Because it has accomplished so much and been so broadly accepted, LEED is becoming the standard by which many green buildings are measured. LEED quantifies a building's performance in the following major categories:
* sustainable sites
* water efficiency
* energy and atmosphere
* materials and resources
* indoor environmental quality
* innovation in design and operations

I emailed Mike Kenner, who lives in West Nashville, the day before yesterday asking for clarification of the LEED vs. Energy Star question, and I have not heard back from him. I also raised the question of LEED in email correspondence on several questions last January without getting a reply on certification.

Besides a winter meeting where we chatted about the possibility of me blogging on his development, Mr. Kenner and I have not had contact since we expressed a difference of opinion on what the North Nashville Community Plan says about developments in Salemtown. However, he did tell me in the past that his company has approached some elderly Salemtown residents along 5th Av N about buying up their properties in order to rezone them for mixed use to make Salemtown more like Germantown.

If they are successful in snagging the properties of long-time residents, and then they seek rezoning (which requires public feedback), I will not forget that the "triple bottom line" build projected in 2011 for 5th and Coffee did not materialize as such in 2012 (there is nothing wrong with Energy Star as an energy saver, but it falls well short of LEED's sustainability principle). Should Kenner McLean achieve future Salemtown acquisitions, will the mixed use they initially propose to motivate rezoning eventually materialize?

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