Birthroot Birth Center Efficiency Details

Birthroot Birth Center

Renovating the Birthroot Birth Center has presented a number of interesting green building and design opportunities, due in part to the fact that it is a medical facility and because it was built in 1890!  Keep reading to learn about the techniques we employed and why.

Hot water – it has to be fast and there has to be a lot of it! Here’s how we are accomplishing both:

  • Utilizing a highly efficient commercial tankless water heater.
  • Reclaiming heat from shower waste water by installing a drain waste heat exchanger.
  • Consulted with Spectrum Plumbing to design a hot water system that reduces wait time and wasted water at handwashing sinks without the use of energy consuming circulation pumps.  This system will deliver hot water two to three times faster than a traditional system.

The only insulation in this building was about 2 inches in the attic. We’re fixing that!

  • Using insulation and air sealing details borrowed from Passive House systems.
  • Installing a Heat Recovery Ventilation system, air sealing,  and using an advance building envelope system (SIGA.)
  • Utilizing a mini-split heat pump, completing extensive air sealing measures and insulating.

The original building was marginally worth saving, but Birthroot Midwives loved it’s historical characteristics. So, we saved what we could and created a durable building envelope to extend the life of the building.

  • We are using a SIGA system to create durable building envelope.
  • We brought in a professional house mover to lift the building which allowed us to completely rebuild the floor system.
  • Floor joists will be reused for trim material and historic exterior windows will be reused as interior re-light windows.

The carbon footprint of the building was large, as were all of the options of rebuilding or traditional remodeling. Here’s how we are working to reduce the overall carbon footprint of the building, both during the remodel and once it’s in operation.

  • Remodeling has been shown to have a smaller carbon footprint than building a new, energy efficient building.
  • Wherever possible, building components will be left in place.
  • Energy use will be minimized through efficient water heating, space heating and advanced air sealing and insulation details.
  • Throughout the construction process we will reuse as many materials as possible and recycle materials that are not reusable.

In light of how the building is going to be used we are working hard to improve the indoor environment.  Here’s how:

  • Choosing low and zero VOC paints and adhesives.
  • Opting for hardwood floors and marmoleum in place of carpet and vinyl flooring options .
  • Using formaldehyde free insulation and other building materials.

Working on this building has been exciting, fascinating and educational.  The problem solving details (Shall we lift the house to rebuild the floor system?  Can we design a hot water system that reduces wait time and wasted water at handwashing sinks without the use of energy consuming circulation pumps?) have been numerous and unique to say the least.  This is one of the many reasons we love remodeling.  Follow the progress of the Birth Root Birth Center here and on our Facebook page.