Green Space: Lithuanian Hall first in Detroit to achieve LEED rehab certification

Historic Lithuanian Hall is the first building in Detroit to achieve LEED Green Building Rating System certification for Core and Shell construction. Its $2.2 million redevelopment was completed in 2006 by Southwest Housing Solutions, whose interest in the structure is myriad: the organization is owner, occupant and manager. Other tenants include State Farm Insurance, Great Lakes Capital Fund Nonprofit Housing Corporation, O'Brien Construction, VSA Michigan and carpet company ABC Advantage.

LEED is the national benchmark for the design, construction and operations of high-performance green buildings, and the Core and Shell category makes certification achievable for rehabilitation projects. "There are some (environmental) advantages to rehab as opposed to new construction...but there are also conditions and limitations," says Tim Thorland, Southwest Housing's executive director. Specific examples where rehab might make a project tougher to be green include waste disposal, sourcing of locally produced products -- which can get pricey for smaller orders -- and inclusion of natural light. "There is a ton of natural light (at the Lithuanian Hall) but it doesn't actually meet the LEED threshold. Core and Shell gives you other ways to score points."

Specific sustainable choices made at Lithuanian Hall include use of locally savaged building materials, radiant heat flooring, white reflective roofing, native landscaping and enhanced insulation.

Thorland says that to LEED or not to LEED can be a tough call. "It's great to have, it helps the public understand how we're being responsible," he says. "But the certifying body needs to take a hard look at understanding the cost-benefit of actually acquiring that certification -- Piquette Square (a veteran housing development recently completed by Southwest Housing) is LEED Silver at least, but when we stand back and look at it, (the certification process) would probably cost us $30 to $50,000 and the only difference is public perspective. As a non-profit with limited resources, there isn't justification."

Quinn Evans served as the architects for Lithuanian Hall, and O'Brien Construction was the contractor.

Source: Tim Thorland, Southwest Housing Solutions
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

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