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Rochester leaders hail sustainable buildings as new standard

Rochester officials are hoping that new energy-efficient buildings taking shape downtown will become the standard for construction as the city continues to grow under its taxpayer-subsidized economic development plan.

Posted: Apr 21, 2019 4:34 PM

ROCHESTER, Minn. (AP) — Rochester officials are hoping that new energy-efficient buildings taking shape downtown will become the standard for construction as the city continues to grow under its taxpayer-subsidized economic development plan.

Officials are looking to buildings such as One Discovery Square to lead the way in incorporating environmental sustainability into design, Minnesota Public Radio News reported.

The building to open this June will house medical and technology startups. It's designed with insulation and high-efficiency windows to earn gold certification under the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system.

Rochester is the first Minnesota city to earn a LEED certification.

Jeremy Jacobs, real estate director for the developer behind the One Discovery Square project, said tenants have to meet energy requirements too.

"Every tenant needs to use LED lighting, and every tenant has to have a minimum efficiency on their HVAC equipment," Jacobs said. "That enables us to get the certification we need to be a part of what the city of Rochester is doing as a green city."

The building's green features are part of the city's Destination Medical Center economic development plan, which aims to grow Rochester while reducing its overall energy use by 25%. Developers building inside the Destination Medical Center zone are required to incorporate environmental sustainability into infrastructure design.

The city's newly elected mayor, Kim Norton, has said focusing on green building downtown is one of Rochester's goals.

Kevin Bright, DMC's energy and sustainability director, recently launched a tool to help businesses track how their buildings use water and energy. The tool is intended to show builders how they compare to historical trends and their peers, according to Bright.

"The more people that adopt these approaches, the more it becomes the social norm of 'that's just how we build,'" he said. "We use water-efficient appliances and fixtures in buildings. It makes sense, it's not that much more expensive. It's just something we do here in Rochester."

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Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org

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