Need LEED? Bay Area Builder Wrote the Book!

Anyone contemplating a LEED project could learn a lot from Mike McDonald.  McDonald Construction of Oakland, California, has become a recognized leader in the sustainable design and build industry of Northern California.  Over the last three years, Mike McDonald and company have created some of the most recognized LEED projects in the U.S.  Masonry Technology Inc. is proud to have been part of them.

The national recognition started in 2009 with the completion of Margarido House.  Margarido House, located on Margarido Drive in Oakland, was the first LEED Platinum Home in Northern California.  Margarido is a study in wise choices.  Great thought went into the location for the home, the selection of craftsmen and artisans chosen for the work, the materials used to create the house, and the fixtures and appliances installed in it.  You can find out more about the people and products McDonald selected for Margarido House here.

With a successful LEED Platinum project under his belt, Mike worked with architect Scott Lee of SB Architects in San Francisco to create the beautiful Hillside 131 house.  Tucked into a hill in Marin County, Hillside 131 became the first LEED-H project in Marin County.  As one writer put it, there is a “real feel of zen” about Hillside 131.  That feeling comes from the perfect combination of sustainable materials, beautiful craftsmanship, and gorgeous design set into the perfect space.  Learn more about the people and products involved in Hillside 131 here.

The final component in the LEED trilogy was just completed.  Tiburon Bay House, also located in the Bay Area, offers a slightly different take on how to create a LEED Platinum home.  Unlike the first two projects, Tiburon sprung up on a lot that was previously occupied by another home.  That home was deconstructed and 95% of the materials were reused or recycled.  With a south facing exposure, Tiburon is the perfect place to employ passive solar into the design, and that is just one of the environmentally-friendly features of this home.  You can learn more about Tiburon Bay House here.

Whether you are planning a LEED project for the immediate future or thinking about one down the road, these three LEED success stories by McDonald Construction are well worth your study!

Tiburon Bay House

Tiburon Bay LEED Platinum House SF Bay Area


Audubon Nature Center in Joplin Resonates Green

My wife and I just returned from an extended weekend getaway in Southeastern Missouri.  A highlight of our trip was our discovery of the Wildcat Glades Conservation & Audubon Nature Center just outside Joplin, Missouri.  If building in the 21st Century is about saving resources and leaving a small footprint on the face of planet Earth, this place “walks the walk!”

The Wildcat Glades area is located on the southeast edge of Joplin just a mile off Interstate 44.  It is very easy to find, and well worth a stop for anyone driving Interstate 44 or visiting the Joplin area.  Located along Shoal Creek, the area provides a great escape from the hustle and bustle of traffic while still giving you easy access to the many services available in a city the size of Joplin.  There are several miles of hiking trails on each side of Shoal Creek (really a misnomer for this body of water that is much more a river).  The trails on the east side are fairly flat, but the trails on the west side climb to heady overlooks towering over the valley and the nature center area.  There are short loops for those not wanting to go far and extended trails for the hardy hiker.  Visitors will see a great variety of bird life and plant life as well as interesting rock formations and an area called Cliff Village that early humans called home.  The trail system can be accessed from the back of the nature center and there is ample free parking available there and in nearby parking areas along each side of Shoal Creek.

The Audubon Center itself is a testament to conserving resources.  The Wildcat Glades & Audubon Center opened in 2007 and features many ways to lessen human impact on the planet.  The Center features a “green, living” roof.  It consists of plastic sheathing, fabrics and soil that limit runoff (according to the brochure, up to 1 million gallons a year).  The parking lot utilizes “a plastic grid/sand/gravel system and filters residue from tires, oil, antifreeze and other liquids that leak from vehicles” that are parked at the Center.  There is a” biodetention area in front of the building that captures roof and site runoff” as do the many plants that surround the building.  The trails are made from recycled asphalt pavement, and the cistern in front of the garden collects roof runoff and is used to water the plants nearby.

The shotcrete exterior of the Center covers a steel frame made from 90% recycled steel.  The insulation is recycled paper/cardboard, and the carpet and plastic deck are made from recycled milk jugs.  The heat is geothermal and the toilets are low water models.  Hot water is produced by an on-demand, flash heating system.  For more information on all the environmentally friendly materials and policies of the Center, visit their Green Technology page.

The Wildcat Glades area is a truly unique place on planet Earth.  There are only 60 acres of true Chert Glade left in the entire world, and Wildcat Glades contains much of that acreage, with the rest nearby.  The Center itself has wonderful exhibits of local fauna and flora; there are also displays of Native American stone artifacts from the area on loan from local collectors.  The Wildcat Glades & Audubon Center, a USGBC Silver L.E.E.D. building, and the surrounding trails, are well worth a visit!

Wildcat Glades & Audubon Center

Front Entrance of Wildcat Glades & Audubon Center

Back View of Center

Back Side Wildcat Glades & Audubon Center

Cliff Dwelling at Wildcat Glades

Cliff Dwelling at Wildcat Glades

Overlook of Shoal Creek

Overlook of Shoal Creek