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Green & Main (7)


Four steel I-beams support the weight of the green roof, which can weigh as much as 27 pounds a square foot when saturated with rain. The shell for a two-story, 1,100-square-foot passive solar addition is ready for windows and roof.

Even as a work in progress, the building is already being used as a classroom. “It’s a great opportunity to show how we got to where we are,” says Halfhill.

“On Earth Day [April 22, 2012] we had 12 [visitors] go through the building. It wasn’t just DOE [Department of Energy] and historic preservation representatives in the crowd. It was people from the cultural community and water conservationists and environmentalists.

It was a great opportunity to illustrate for a diverse crowd how their separate areas of focus converge in this one project — how this sort of rehab is truly holistic.

They can begin to weave the story together, to see the connections and learn to collaborate. They’ve never done that before.”

As he pursues financial support to finish the project, preaching to prospective funders the gospel of a triple bottom line (not just financial cost but also environmental and social impact), Halfhill ponders the irony of this Depression-era corner grocery store being reborn during what has been called “the Great Recession.”

As then, it’s now a tough economy — and a time of great transformation.

“We’re experiencing a sweeping paradigm shift all over the country. People want to make a difference and they’re demanding change. Even conservative banks don’t give us the cross-eyed looks we used to get five years ago when talking about green building.

One day this type of rehab will be financially feasible. We’re paving the way to show it can be done. It comes with this burden of dealing with lots of different parts. But,” Halfhill sighs and shrugs his shoulders, “someone built the first strip mall. I’m sure the numbers didn’t work then either.”

(Read more Green & Main)

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