In sustainable construction projects, the team is everything. Chas. Bender, our general contractor, gave us the best of all possible worlds. This family-owned business has been building restaurants for over 100 years in Chicago. Most of these restaurants are renovations in old Chicago buildings. Ben Neuberg, its President, has decades of amazing practical experience and creative problem-solving in building restaurants.
Ben's son, Brett Neuberg, is fiercely passionate about sustainabiity, and enrolled in classes to become a LEED Accredited Professional during our construction period. Brett practically bleeds green and was the LEED administrator for all General Contracting and construction credits. This is no small task, and making sure your contractor can deliver on the documentation of your construction is critical. If they can't, your LEED certification is in jeopardy.
Having a combination of traditional experience and an authentic commitment to green construction is the only way to go in my opinion. Construction is difficult, and LEED makes it harder as you have to document every action taken.
Separate from LEED, Brett went above and beyond the minimum standards for LEED credits, and delivered the most sustainable project possible. He delivered performance way above the LEED requirements. Here's an example of our A+ performance:
- 97% of construction debris was diverted from landfill (LEED requires 50%)
- 52 tons of concrete was recycled
- 82% of furniture and furnishings were salvaged (only 30% required for LEED credit)
- 100% of our appliances in rated classes are Energy Star rated (LEED requires 70%)
Many other sustainable work took place that is not covered by LEED credits. Our Architect, Jean Dufresne of SPACE Architects+Planners, identified nearby buildings slated for demolition or remodeling. Owned by other clients, Jean secured permission from property owners for us to salvage materials for our project. Our guys would carefullyharvest and deliver to the Kitchen. THEN, we had to protect all these materials for months before and during construction so we could actually use them when the time came. Drew Krisco of Chas. Bender took amazing care of so many items, moving them carefully many times over as construction demanded. Everyone who enjoys our beautiful wall of doors, or all the gorgeous wood trim in our place has Drew to thank for it.
Here's another cool story: our storefront glass needed to be replaced for our new storefront. The old glass was tempered, which is not recyclable. We found an artist community that took our old storefront glass and used it to build a new booth in their recording studio on the west side. Any materials that are treated in some way-- tempered glass, pressurized lumber-- are no longer recycleable afterward. Tempered glass is part of the building code for commercial spaces for safety purposes. So finding creative reuse is critical for many materials.
I'm writing this as I'm finalizing our LEED construction credits, and looking back I'm again filled with gratitude for the wonderful people that built the Kitchen. Thank you everyone!
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