Environmental design focus pays off for Roanoke-based architecture firm

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by Heather B. Hayes

Spectrum Design’s decision to focus on the use of green technologies and materials four years ago is paying off for the Roanoke-based architecture and engineering firm.

President John Garland says that more than half of the firm’s current projects are seeking certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System. “Last year was our best year ever and 2008 looks even better, and I attribute most of that growth to our expertise in LEED certification and green technologies,” says Garland. 

“We’re getting recognized as the regional go-to firm for green architecture and green engineering, which is positive not only from a business point of view but it’s enabling us to do the types of projects we really enjoy doing.”

That recognition has led to the firm’s first project outside of Virginia. It has been assigned to transform Archdale Hall, the oldest building at Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C., into a highly energy-efficient building.

Spectrum Design provided architectural and engineering design services in the renovation of the 107-year-old State & City Building in downtown Roanoke, the first building in the city to achieve a LEED rating. Roanoke-based Breakell Inc. was the general contractor. The building’s tenants and condo owners expect to see an 88 percent annual saving in heating and cooling costs.

Spectrum Design also designed a soon-to-be-completed $16 million artisan center on the campus of Virginia Highlands Community College in Abingdon. It will be called the Heartwood: Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Gateway. The 28,600-square-foot building will feature a geothermal heating and cooling system and a vegetated roof designed to collect
rainwater for toilet flushing and irrigation.

Other green Spectrum Design projects include the Roanoke County Fleet Service Center, Roanoke Cement Headquarters, the Shenandoah River State Park Visitors Center and the former Blacksburg Motor Co. building (now owned by the town).

Spectrum Design has 42 employees, with eight of those having completed LEED-accreditation. Garland says he recently hired several new employees, including a mechanical energy engineer, and expects to hire more this spring. 

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