Cromwell has been incorporating sustainable values in our projects for decades, celebrating these efforts internally, but not sharing the accomplishments with our valued clients and friends. We want to use this opportunity to share some these exciting events with you.
As some of you may know, Cromwell was founded in 1885 making it the oldest firm in the state. This long history has allowed Cromwell to weather a multitude of economic situations. Throughout that history, we haven't seen clients expressing a desire to waste money on utility bills. This has led Cromwell to develop a culture of valuing efficiency in all of our projects, even when “being green” lacked the mass support of today.
In 1947, the firm designed the new Governor’s Mansion on the site of the original Blind School. Even over 65 years ago, Cromwell recognized an opportunity and reused the original brick from the school to construct the Governor’s Mansion. Fast forward to 2004 and Cromwell again incorporates the reuse of brick in the University of Arkansas Innovation Center which was also the first LEED certified building in the state. LEED wasn’t developed until 1993, so let’s look at a few more earlier projects.
In the 1960’s and 1970’s, Cromwell was experimenting with the use of daylighting and shade to reduce energy bills. The Little Rock Air Force Base commissary was an example of designing for daylighting. It utilized clerestory windows to allow the daylight to spill into the space. Years later studies would show that daylight increases sales over artificial lighting. This partnership continues to this day with Cromwell designing energy efficient and LEED certified commissaries across the globe.
Perhaps the most innovative project in our history was the Mississippi County Community College in Blytheville, Arkansas. The concepts in the project were so innovative; it was selected to represent solar photovoltaic research and design for the American Pavilion at the 1982 World’s Fair. The project incorporated everything learned about daylighting in the 60’s while utilizing the technology of the day. At the time, it was the largest solar installation in the world. The project had 270 parabolic mirrors which tracked the sun and directed the light to photovoltaic cells producing 5500 kilowatt-hours of energy a day. A central barrel vault corridor blocked the hot summer sun while encouraging prevailing winds and natural convection to cool the space naturally. Listing the sustainable strategies on this project alone would require a book (there is one), but the design decisions resulted in the building having an energy savings exceeding 35%. This would achieve 12-13 points out of the 19 points possible in today’s LEED rating system.
With new sustainable programs such as LEED being developed, Cromwell continued to be at the forefront of sustainability by not only certifying the first LEED project in the state, but by also providing the engineering services for the Heifer International Headquarters in Little Rock, Arkansas. This project was awarded the most prestigious LEED rating of Platinum. Along with the two benchmark LEED projects in the state, Cromwell has continued to be a responsible for many LEED projects across the world. LEED certification only addresses a small percentage of our projects. With that in mind and having provided the services for years, Cromwell officially launched our Energy Services Department in 2011. This team of professionals works with new and existing facilities to maximize the efficiency of their systems and identify any problems that may be wasting energy and increasing their overhead. They even have the capabilities to identify system failures before they ever occur increasing overall reliability! Our Energy Services team has partnered with the Heifer International headquarters to provide these commissioning services. The savings from the Energy Service team’s work have resulted in 23% electrical savings and a 55% natural gas savings. These were significant enough that Heifer extended the contract to include daily monitoring of their facility.
The work of our Energy Service team is the latest in Cromwell’s attempts to be at the forefront of sustainability and symbolizes our commitment to energy savings for all our clients. In the 128 years we have been around, we have seen a variety of economic conditions and “energy crunches”, but the desire for our clients to save money has always been consistent. No matter the time frame, a happy client who saves money is a client we look forward to working with again.
Spring time sniffles can only mean high temperatures and high bills are just around the corner. Here at Cromwell, we are always concerned about our clients' expenses. Energy efficiency and sustainable beliefs are at the core of who we are; after all, a company doesn’t exist for over 127 years by focusing on the short term. We don’t do a lot of residential design here at Cromwell, so we wanted to give you a couple of quick tips to help you save money at home. We are going to focus on eliminating the energy waste without changing your lifestyle.
Would you leave a window open while your AC is running in the middle of the summer heat? Many homes are doing the equivalent of this and the owners have no clue. There are countless leaks in the envelope of an average home and, cumulatively, they typically equal the energy loss of fully open windows. These leaks primarily occur around doors and windows, but can occur anywhere in the home. Sealing these leaks is something anyone can do and has a very quick payback in monthly savings. You could also consider getting an insulated cover for the attic side of any attic access. Don’t know what to do? The EPA has released “do it yourself” guidelines to correcting the energy loss from cracks.
If you want to improve your HVAC efficiency even further, there are a few things you can do. Check you return air filter. If these are excessively dirty, they can greatly restrict air flow and reduce the efficiency of the system. If this is something you already do regularly, add rinsing down the exterior unit as part of your maintenance practices. Dirt accumulation in the exterior fins can reduce the AC’s capability to reject heat and cool the interior. If you are feeling adventurous, take a look at your air ducts. Residential ducts lose over 20% of their air through leaks. This results in a typical house wasting hundreds of dollars every year. These ducts should be insulated and sealed. If you aren’t comfortable tackling this yourself, there are many local companies who specialize in this type of service.
While you are diligently ridding your home of cracks, take a second and verify your hot water tank is set at 120° F. Sometimes these are set at 140° F, while 120° F will adequately meet all your needs. Give it a try and see if you notice a difference. Also take a look and see if your pipes from the tank are insulated. If you have an older hot water tank, it is definitely worth purchasing an insulated wrap for the tank itself along with insulated wraps for the pipes. While you could turn the heater lower, it is not recommended because it will result in an increase in bacteria growth.
These are just some options to reducing your monthly bills. Sealing cracks and ducts may take a while, but it will have a noticeable impact on a monthly basis. The savings from changing water heater settings aren’t as significant, but the modification takes minutes and will save you money long term. There are countless other ways to save energy and reduce bills. Some of which we will address in future articles, but these are key ways you can reduce the energy you are wasting without changing your daily life.
Cromwell is proud to announce that Clint Whitley, AIA, LEED AP BD+C was appointed to the Little Rock Little Rock Mayor’s Sustainability Commission. This commission was established in 2008 to advise the City on sustainable practices and consists of 16 members appointed by the mayor who serve a 3 year term. Whitley will work with various groups in the City to develop new environmentally green policies that positively impact city government and the residents of Little Rock.
Whitley is a registered architect and Sustainability Coordinator. He oversees all of Cromwell’s sustainable projects to ensure that all “green” design practices and requirements are met and is actively involved with the Jonesboro Green Business Committee through the Cromwell Jonesboro office.
Located in West Little Rock, this flagship retail space for Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield is the first of its kind for Arkansas. Officially opening in October of 2011, this 4500 SF space located on a corner bay at Shackelford Crossing is referred to as Arkansas Blue and welcomes the public before they ever enter the space.
Utilizing the branding colors of green and blue, the design team created an energizing space that draws the public inside.
Close collaboration with Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield helped to create public and private spaces fulfilling all the functional needs of the space regarding acoustics, accommodation of the public, security, branding, and employee comfort.
On September 12, Charley Penix and Joe Hilliard presented “Blown Away: Maintaining Hospital Operations During Redesign and Rebuilding,“ a webinar for the 2013 Healthcare Facilities Symposium & Expo.
In February 2008, a tornado destroyed most of the hospital in Mountain View, AR. With only the surgical wing salvageable for reuse, the design team was challenged to resolve several issues:
To download a copy of the webinar, please visit http://www.hcarefacilities.com/webinar.asp.
The Cromwell team is hosting an art show featuring the talents of our employees. The works will be on display at The 505 Union in Jonesboro, AR from June 7th through June 30th.
The 505 Union is a collective of artists who have come together to provide world class art experiences to Downtown Jonesboro, AR. The Union is supported in part by in-kind donations from the Mixon Law Firm and Cromwell Architects.
Address is 505 Union Street, Jonesboro, AR 72401