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Allen Associates Goes Green in Remodeling New Milpas Street Office

Employee-owned company includes a variety of energy- and water-conserving features

Allen Associates, an employee-owned, general contracting firm based in Santa Barbara, is now operating from 201 N. Milpas St. in a building it purchased in 2010. This is the first time in Allen Associates’ 27-year history that it has owned a building.

President Dennis Allen ran the company for 22 years out of his home before moving to its previous space at 835 N. Milpas St. Taking advantage of the commercial real estate market and a Small Business Administration loan, Allen Associates was able to increase its space, gain long-term security for its operations and reduce its overhead costs over the long term.

Its new building, originally built in 1926, is an asset for Allen Associates. An open house for the new building was held May 26, and nearly 200 guests attended.

The new building has provided the company not only with more office space and its own parking lot, but also the opportunity to remodel the building with numerous green features. Allen Associates, known for its green building practices, now has a home base that reflects the building philosophy it has promoted to its clients for almost three decades.

The goal of the company is to add more solar panels over time to its existing 5-kilowatt array and, eventually, make the building net zero — producing as much energy as is consumed. Currently, the company is halfway to this goal.

During the remodel, Allen Associates also took a number of steps to make the building more energy-efficient, including:

» Upgrading insulation — Icynene insulation was blown into the roof rafters and fiberglass insulation was added to the existing exterior walls where previously there was none.

» Increasing natural light throughout the office by adding 10 new sola tubes, which reduces the need for supplemental electric lighting.

» Installing new high-efficiency LED lights (including 18 recessed cans and 11 wall splash lights). Combined, these 29 light fixtures use only 332 watts of energy, an 85 percent savings over a traditional incandescent installation.

» Installing high output (T-5) fluorescent under-cabinet lights with individual controls at each work station. These 20 fixtures demand only 512 watts, equal to five 100 watt bulbs. In addition, the lights are on a timer in case they are left on inadvertently.

» Eight energy-efficient fluorescent (T-8) panel lights with light diffusers were reused from Allen Associates’ old office.

» A new Title 24 reflective roof was installed.

» Use of energy efficient appliances (including Energy Star-rated copying machines and a refrigerator).

Water conservation was another important goal of the remodel. The following water-saving features were added:

» Water-saving, dual-flush toilets are used in both the men’s and women’s bathrooms. Each of these toilets save 8,000 gallons of water each year (based on usage of 10,000 flushes per year). In addition, the men’s bathroom features a waterless urinal, which saves, on average, another 40,000 gallons of water per year.

» A water- and energy-efficient water filter system provides drinking water in the kitchen. This unit uses two filtration technologies: reverse osmosis and a carbon filter.

» A drought-tolerant landscape was installed in the parking lot.

Sustainable building materials were used in the course of the remodel:

» The floors throughout the entry, conference room and plan room are made of reclaimed oak fencing from Kentucky. These oak floors were finished with a zero-VOC hard wax.

» An epoxy grout was used on the interior tile floors in the kitchen, rear hallway and bathrooms that require minimal maintenance and no sealing.

» The exterior tiles at the front and rear entry are composed of durable concrete with varying amounts of recycled content that qualifies them for LEED points. They were manufactured in Gardena with regionally sourced raw materials and are recyclable.

» Instead of paper towels, low-energy, electric-air hand dryers are used in the restrooms. This not only saves trees (an average of 24 trees are saved during the lifetime of one dryer), but it also reduces landfill waste.

» New cabinets in the plan check room, kitchen and bathroom were made with wood from sustainable-yield forests and low-VOC finishes.

» Rather than becoming firewood or being sent to a landfill, a local urban-salvaged black acacia tree was made into a conference room table.

» Material reuse: The existing cedar entry door was reused and refinished, and sustainably harvested bamboo cabinets, custom-built for their previous office, are being reused in the new office. In addition, a sustainably harvested wood entry desk, a plan table made from recycled paper, sunflower board countertops and laminate desktops were moved from the old office and reused.

Click here for more information about Allen Associates. Become a fan of Allen Associates on Facebook.

— Karen Feeney is the green resources manager for Allen Associates.

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