LEED® certification explored for Crawford House

By Andrea May '07
Director of Outreach and Alumni Affairs

In 2009, the College partnered with Knoxville-based Strata-G to determine the feasibility of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) certification for Crawford House, which was completed in 1876 and is one of the 13 historic buildings on campus.

During an Earth Day celebration last spring, administrators at Maryville College and Strata-G officials, including project manager Janna McCall Nash ’93, announced that the Crawford House project had been registered with the U.S. Green Building Council under the LEED® Existing Buildings-Operation and Maintenance rating system.

“What we’re attempting is a pretty big deal,” Nash said at the Earth Day celebration in front of Crawford House. “We don’t know if we’re going to be able to pull it off, but we’ll give it our best shot.”

Fortunately, Strata-G isn’t starting with only 19th-century building practices and technology. In recent years, several energy-efficient and “green” products and practices have been added at Crawford House, such as VOC-free paint, a metal roof, dual-flush toilets, timed water heaters and use of salvaged wood for the deck and salvaged wood chips for ground covering under the climbing tower.

“A connection to the environment has been important to us for a long time,” explained Bruce Guillaume ’76, director of Mountain Challenge, at the Earth Day event.

A pre-LEED® audit by Strata-G conducted during the fall of 2009 resulted in the following recommended improvements to be completed before requesting certification: installation of gas and water meters for measuring usage; installation of storm windows over existing windows; re-capping fireplaces; re-insulating the attic and basement; and replacing the HVAC system with appropriate-sized units.

Some of the improvements are being funded by a generous grant for environmental studies awarded by the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation of Minnesota.

Dr. Mark O’Gorman, associate professor of political science and environmental studies coordinator at the College, is administrator of the Cargill grant on campus. At the ceremony, he praised College administrators – especially Guillaume and Vice President and Dean of Students Vandy Kemp – for the vision to renovate an existing building in a “green” way.

“What is wonderful is that this event is but one more step in a long tradition of environmental stewardship at Maryville College,” he said, reminding people of Kin Takahashi’s energy efficient brick-building for Bartlett Hall using local clay and Dr. Randy Shields’ emphasis on conservation before it was popular. “Maryville College has, Maryville College is, and Maryville College will always ‘walk its talk’ when it comes to having a clear voice about the importance of the environment in our lives.”

If approved, Crawford House would be among the first historic structures in the state of Tennessee to be LEED® certified.

Nash instrumental in project

For Nash, several chance conversations have made all the difference in her professional career.

In 2009, about a month before a job interview with StrataG, LLC, an environmental engineering and energy management company in Knoxville, Nash was brainstorming science-project ideas for her oldest child with her dad, Andy McCall, the College’s physical plant director. The concept of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) was mentioned as a project idea. It interested the alumna so much that she spent her time researching LEED and during her StrataG interview, she mentioned it as an initiative she would like to pursue.

Nash got the job and shortly thereafter passed the test to become the company’s first LEED Accredited Professional (AP).

Just after passing the LEED AP test, Nash had a chance run-in with Guillaume, which set into motion a two-year project to have Crawford House LEED certified.

“I just kept thinking to myself, what a small world it is,” Nash commented in a recent interview. “That everything came together the way it did; it was just meant to be.”

A self-described “oddball engineer,” Nash credits her MC education for her writing and communication abilities – two very important skills for LEED projects.

“You have to be able to paint the picture and sell people on it,” she explained.

The certification process of the 134-year-old Crawford House is not without its challenges, particularly as an older building with a limited project budget, but having Crawford House as one of the first historic homes to be LEED certified in the state of Tennessee is well worth the effort.

“Taking care of the earth was engrained in me as a young kid, and MC has always been a part of my family with my dad working there, so this is a very special project to be a part of at the College,” Nash said.

The work in Crawford House is important to the alumna because, she said, it promotes the mindset that retrofitting existing buildings to save energy is possible.

“This is a stage to prove that LEED certification can be done, and done with a small budget,” she pointed out.

Nash and Guillaume are also sharing the process with current MC students and classes that are helping with projects.