27 July 2009

History of the Center for Energy Efficient Design (CEED)

This is the first post about the Center for Energy Efficient Design. This project is very near to my heart. I have been involved in this project for almost two years and we are finally close to groundbreaking. Here is the history of the project as I am told:
2003 - John Richardson & Neil Sigmon teachers at the Gereau Center for Applied Technology came up with an idea of creating a sustainable classroom (the living classroom), where the concepts of sustainability could be incorporated into curriculum and the building itself would be part of the learning experience.
2003 - 2007 - Funding is partially procured and conceptual design is initiated with Virginia Tech School of Architecture. Project progress slows as the need to raise funds and get the project from the conceptual to the actual stage.
2008 - In the spring John Richardson is discussing the frustratingly slow progress he is making on CEED with his student, Ryan Leonard, and Ryan tells John "You know you ought to talk to my dad and his boss, they love this stuff!" With that John made contact with me and I visited the Gereau Center. It was love at first sight. The mission of the entire campus was exciting to me and I volunteered to take the project to the next phase at no cost. Our team took the conceptual design and refined it to create a buildable low energy project. We designed an earth bermed structure that was projected to use 40% less energy than standard construction. Also during this time we ran a hard cost estimate and raised $230,000 of in kind donations from subs and vendors. (Our firm donated $130,000 of this. This is a project I am fully invested in!) In late 2008 Dr. Charles Lackey approached the Franklin County School Board with the proposal and a request to fund the remaining $400,000 of construction costs. The board voted positively, as did the Board of Supervisors. There was a caveat that the project be put out on the open market to bid.
Also, in late 2008, while researching low energy, low income projects, I discovered Passiv design and was immediately taken with the possibilities. The Germans had taken the super insulated construction we pioneered in the states in the seventies and eighties and figured out through precise building physics how to create building s that basically heat themselves and use 60% - 90% less energy than standard construction. While following up on the passiv movement in the US I discovered that the Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) was conducting training starting in January 2009. I immediately signed up.
2009 - This project received more response from interested firms than anticipated. With 40 responses, a committee was formed to narrow down the choices and through an interview process our firm was selected to perform design/build services. It was also during this time that I was trained as a Passivhaus designer. I asked to be allowed to redesign the CEED to passiv standards. After a redesign and repricing we found that we could build the building as a passiv structure, save about 33% more energy than the original design and save $20,000!! Cool. We were given the OK and started the final working drawings. At this point we have almost completed the final working drawings and are looking forward to submitting for permitting in early August. We hope to break ground by late August or early September.

Keep coming back for information, as I will be posting more as we begin construction!


  1. Very cool, Adam - can't wait to follow your blog!

  2. Nice effort, we'll continue to follow.
    Congratulations on ground breaking!
    Jeff T.

  3. hey i had MR.richardson in my freshmen year our class helped break ground on the ceed project site


All comments are welcome!
Please use the Name/URL option (you don't have to register, just enter a screen-name) or sign your anonymous post at the bottom.