Dovetail Construction project attempts to balance history with energy efficiency

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by Heather B. Hayes

Paul and Julie Weissend bought the Richmond and Chesapeake Bay Railway Car Barn planning to use historic credits and green technology to breathe new life into the 101-year-old Richmond building.

The structure was built to service passenger cars on an electric-railway that ran from Richmond to Ashland from 1907 to 1938. The Weissends are turning it into offices for two companies, Dovetail Construction and D-Tail Plumbing, which they previously managed from their home. “To us, it’s really the ultimate in recycling and being green because you’re reusing something that was already developed,” says Julie Weissend.

The project presented the Weissends with the challenge of preserving the building’s historic integrity while making it energy efficient and sustainable.

Their solution? Create a building within a building. The car barn’s exterior largely will retain its original design (except for a wall of energy-efficient windows). But the interior and exterior will incorporate elements that meet the certification criteria of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System.

The project, scheduled to be completed at the end of this year, will feature highly efficient heating and cooling systems, rainwater catchment systems, a permeable parking lot that reduces toxic runoff and bike racks for employees who want to forgo driving their cars. “We’re going through every aspect of the LEED criteria and at every selection point trying to beat what typically happens in terms of wasted energy,” Julie Weissend says. 


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