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Entegrity receives rare global award for green headquarters

By KYLE MASSEYJuly 8, 2019

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — From the compost and recycling bins on the floor to the bicycles on wall racks and the 50-kilowatt solar power array on the roof, Entegrity’s headquarters in east Little Rock practically screams that its occupants care about the environment.

But just how green did an extensive $500,000 renovation make the building, home to partners Chris Ladner, Matt Bell and Michael Parker and dozens of the company’s nearly 100 employees? Here’s a clue: It saves or creates enough power to balance out all of its energy use.

“It’s the second building in the world to get LEED Zero certification, and the first in the United States,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO of the U.S. Green Building Council, who was in Little Rock to celebrate the sustainability and energy services company’s achievement. “Of course it’s a small world, with only 7.6 billion people.”

LEED Zero is the highest distinction for building efficiency in the USGBC’s ratings, the most widely used green building assessment system in the world, and Ramanujam gave Bell and Ladner a certification plaque, as well as leading a round of applause. “LEED,” he said, referring to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program, “demands leadership.”

“It has become increasingly clear that we as designers, operators, owners and inhabitants of buildings have a mandate to minimize resource use,” Ramanujam told the Arkansas Business. “LEED Zero recognizes those leaders who are pushing the standard for building performance even higher.” Ramanujam, who was visiting Little Rock for the first time, was accompanied around town by Linda K. Smith, an Arkansas USGBC official.

The USGBC chief said about 100,000 buildings in 174 countries have been LEED registered and certified, and he predicted a time when “green buildings” will be as antiquated a term as “color TVs.” ″They’ll just be buildings; It will be expected,” Ramanujam said.

Entegrity’s Ladner and Bell kick-started the transformation of what’s become known as Little Rock’s East Village when they bought the historic 1959 Darragh Co. building, formerly the base of the storied building supply company that got its start providing cement in wooden kegs for construction of the Arkansas State Capitol building.

After the renovation, aided by designs from WER Architects/Planners of Little Rock, the building earned certifications from USGBC, the International Living Future Institute and others.

The original building was designed by Noland Blass Jr. of Erhart, Eichenbaum, Rauch & Blass in 1958, a 13,000-SF example of mid-century modern architecture. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2017 and awarded LEED Platinum certification, the previous top achievement for green buildings before the LEED Zero Energy program was inaugurated about a year ago.

The first LEED Zero certification went to the engineering and consulting firm Petinelli for its headquarters in the Brazilian city of Curitiba, Ramanujam said. LEED Zero recognizes buildings or spaces that achieve “a source energy use balance of zero over a period of 12 months,” according to USGBC guidelines. Entegrity achieves that balance “by pairing the building’s energy-efficient design with a 50-kw rooftop solar array,” effectively producing more energy than the building uses over a year, company officials said.

“It’s a fun building to work in, and to show visiting friends and family members,” said Adam Ness, the sales and marketing chief for Entegrity, which since its founding in 2007 has worked in 38 states and completes about 150 construction and engineering projects a year, often in conjunction with Nabholz Construction of Conway. “With this building, we can show clients and prospects that we walk the walk.”

The building has electrochromatic windows that tint at the command of a Wi-Fi signal from Bell’s cell phone, not to mention high-control HVAC systems and all-LED lighting. “This building shows we practice what we preach,” Bell said in giving Arkansas Business a tour last year. “One of the only net-zero buildings in the state.”

In accepting accolades, Ladner said when he started Entegrity in 2007 his grand plan was to have a boutique consulting business with five to eight employees. “Then this guy, Matt Bell, said we’re going bigger, man.”

Entegrity, which was formed as Viridian, partnered with Nabholz Construction to create Entegrity Energy Partners in 2013. The goal was to turn Viridian’s traditional energy-efficiency consulting into a business that could also “install all the systems,” Bell said. The name of the whole enterprise was changed to Entegrity in 2017.

The two partners soaked up applause from the crowd of over 100, who got goody bags including Entegrity-branded efficiency light bulbs, then posed for pictures with their LEED Zero certificate, which is certain to find a place on some wall of Little Rock’s greenest building.

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Information from: Arkansas Business, http://www.arkansasbusiness.com

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