Chartreuse Blog

Museum of Visual Materials: Teaching Green Design

The Museum of Visual Materials, in downtown Sioux Falls, was designed to accomplish three goals: create an interactive display for the owner’s collections; preserve the building’s original character; and incorporate green design principles to minimize operating costs and educate visitors about sustainability.

The owner’s collections are displayed using flexible display spaces around activity areas such as cooking, sewing, crafts, and music.  Simple display units were designed on castors for flexibility and the option to clear the large rooms for events.  The spaces were designed to maximize daylight for reading and viewing the collections.

The owner chose to use an abandoned building in the Sioux Falls Historic Warehouse District to house the collection.  Consolidated Tank Line Co. built the wood frame and rubble quartzite structure in 1887 after which it served as the Midwest headquarters for the Standard Oil Co. from 1896 until 1945.  Midland Distributing Company’s Seagram Products were distributed from the structure until the mid 80’s.  The building sat mostly empty for the next 20 years.

Koch Hazard Architects chose to gut the interior spaces leaving the original quartzite rubble walls and wood structure to preserve the buildings character.  Paint was sandblasted from the interior and exterior surfaces to reveal the warehouse’s original aesthetic.  Columns and webs milled from reused timbers were added to stabilize the trusses with custom gussets and bolts.  Many of the early alterations were retained as part of the building’s history.

Because the owner, a retired physician, had a lifetime focus on health, sustainable sensibility and stewardship was a guiding priority for designing the museum.  Sustainable design will lower ongoing operating costs and serve as a tool to educate others about healthy design.

The site and building incorporate many innovative and sustainable systems and technologies with the expectation of LEED Gold Certification from the USGBC.

All parking is off-site allowing native grasses and flowers to fill the exterior space.  Rainwater from the roof is collected and diverted to a small retention area.  A permeable serpentine path is used for learning about native plants through a self-guided tour.   Quartzite retaining walls provide exterior seating space in the plaza courtyard.

Low-flow fixtures and motion sensors save approximatly 30,000 gallons of water every year or about 30% over standard EPA efficiency.

A hybrid open loop geothermal system uses steady temperatures from the Sioux Aquifer for efficient heating and cooling.  Three inches of closed cell soy-based foam insulation where added to walls increase energy efficiency.  Energy efficient lighting with motion sensors and high efficiency glazing minimize heat gain, and an 8 kilowatt photovoltaic array on the roof generates energy.

Natural, regional materials were used including unstained wood trim from Minnesota and locally quarried quartzite.  35 freight skid palettes from the building’s Seagram distributor days were reused as a raised and removable floor in the utility room, as bases for the original rough columns in the atrium, as a backdrop to the kitchen, and as a trash enclosure off the alley.  Unstained bamboo and cork are also used in the display areas.

Low-emitting materials, operable windows, and daylighting and views were used to promote good indoor air quality.

Green cleaning and education programs further promote the building as a teacher of sustainable design and healthy buildings.

Photos by Stephen Parezo

Courthouse Square: Sustainable Design in SD
December 2, 2009, 2:21 pm
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Courthouse Square, a five-story office and retail building located in downtown Sioux Falls, is the second LEED Gold building in the state of South Dakota.  Designed by Koch Hazard Architects, it incorporates a number of environmentally significant systems and technologies including daylighting, renewable energy and geothermal templification, displacement ventilation, radiant heating and cooling, task lighting, low-emitting materials, and indoor chemical and pollutant source control.  78% of the building’s materials are regionally (within 500 miles) harvested and manufactured including the quartzite stone and architectural precast concrete façade.  Water conservation measures, including waterless urinals, save 140,000 gallons per year.  The design has far exceeded LEED Gold standards and is one of three projects nationally to win the 2006 GSA Environmental Award.1

The exterior of Courthouse Square was designed to respond to the neighboring US Courthouse without overwhelming it, despite its size.  A two story arcade of local quartzite reflects the tall arched windows of the historic courthouse across the street.  The 3rd and 4th stories above incorporate wide windows spaced in a system of architectural concrete, and the 5th story is set back behind a mansard style roof with elegant dormer windows reducing the apparent size of the building.

Photos by Stephen Parezo

Cherapa Place: Green Building in SD
December 1, 2009, 6:02 pm
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Photo by Aaron Holmberg

Cherapa Place, a 140,000 square foot office building located on the East Bank of the Big Sioux River in downtown Sioux Falls, is the first LEED Gold Building in the state of South Dakota.  Designed by Koch Hazard Architects, the site and building incorporate many innovative and sustainable systems and technologies reducing energy consumption by 40% and water use by 15%.  Other green strategies include the redevelopment of a brownfield site, stormwater management, green roofs, and a native landscape.  Also, 60% of the building’s materials are regionally (located within 500 miles) harvested and manufactured such as the quartzite stone on the building’s base.

Quartzite is a stone that was commonly used in Sioux Falls architecture until the early 20th century because the city is located on a large quartzite formation.  The façade of Cherapa Place uses over 8,500 square feet of this stone.

The interior of the building features tabletops made of pressed sorghum and cabinetry and trim made from pressed wheat.

Photos from Aaron Holmberg

Cordwood House
August 11, 2009, 2:57 pm
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cordwood7Type of Construction: Post and Beam
Built By: Donald Gerdes, Home Owner
Completed: April 2006
Length of Construction: 2.5 Years
Foundation: Slab on Grade
Size: 2100 sq. ft. Ground, 720 sq. ft. Loft
Wood: White Pine
Mortar: Cement
Wall Type: 5” Mortar, 6” Cellulose Insulation, 5” Mortar
Total Wall Thickness: 16”

Donald Gerdes began drawing plans for his home in the spring of 2003 and moved into his Cedar House, located in Reedsburg, WI, in the spring of 2006.  The great room and dining room are housed in an octagon shaped plan with a large fireplace at its center, and the kitchen, bathrooms, bedroom, utility room, workshop and two car garage extend north from the semi-circle.  A loft overlooks the great room.  The house is heated in the winter by the fireplace and under-floor radiant heat.

For more information about cordwood masonry visit the Chartreuse website’s section on cordwood at









Near North Apartments
August 10, 2009, 6:35 pm
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Located near the former site of Cabrini Green, Near North Apartments is a single room occupancy building that has dedicated half of its 96, 250 sq foot units to the homeless and disabled.  Helmut Jahn designed the SRO to have reduced operating costs by taking advantage of solar and wind energy and through the utilization of water runoff. The eight turbines, designed at the University of Illinois, with the city-donated photovoltaics are expected to generate 15% of the total building power.  Furthermore, runoff is collected in an underground cistern and used for flushing toilets and irrigation.  USG, a construction material supplier for the project, will be monitoring energy savings on the structure in the future.  They are expecting a total energy savings of 22% and a 16 to 18 year payback.1





1. Building Design and Construction, “Green Design Makes it to Affordable Housing,”

Chicago Center for Green Technology

CCGT, located west of Chicago’s Loop, acts as a model for green construction, houses green businesses and organizations, and provides a place to learn about sustainability.  It is only the third building in the United States to be designed with the highest standards of green technology, LEED Platinum, though it is the first LEED Platinum building to reuse an existing structure and provide public transportation.

The building that houses CCGT was built in 1952 and was most recently owned by Sacramento Crushing, a collector of construction and demolition waste.  The Chicago Department of Environment became involved when it discovered the company was violating its permit by filling its 17 acre site with illegal debris.  The Campus was filled with 70 foot piles of rubble, some so dense they were sinking as deep as 15 feet into the ground.  The DOE closed down the site and became responsible for cleaning it up.  Local architects, led by Farr Associates, designed the facility.

45% of CCGT’s electrical needs are covered by three solar arrays located on the campus:  a 28.2 kW roof array, a 10.8 kW building integrated window awning array, and a 32.4 kW solar berm.  The center also decreases its need for electricity by incorporating passive solar strategies including natural lighting and a tromme wall used to heat the on-site greenhouse.

CCGT manages its water usage and runoff though its extensive green roof, four 12,000 gallon cisterns, disconnected downspouts, and bioswales and wetland.  They retain over half of their rainwater onsite for watering the landscape.

Other sustainable features include the campus being heated and cooled using a ground source heat pump, use of local materials (over 40% within 300 miles), use of only non-toxic and/or low VOC products, and the use of recycled materials (over 40%).

To learn more about sustainability at Chicago Center for Green Technology, to schedule a tour, or to attend a seminar visit the CCGT website.











McDonald’s Cycle Center
August 6, 2009, 2:14 pm
Filed under: Green Projects | Tags: , , , ,

The cycle center is located in downtown Chicago’s Millennium Park and “is another step toward Mayor Daley’s goal to make Chicago the most bicycle-friendly city in the country.”

The center provides 300 secure, heated, indoor bike parking spaces, showers and lockers, bike rentals, and a repair shop.  The center is also partially powered by the photovoltaic system on the roof including 80 75-watt modules and 40 37-watt modules.  The system is rated at 7.48 kW, will generate 8,815 kilowatt-hours per year, and meet 6.5% of the center’s electrical requirements.

To learn more about the cycle center visit








Exelon Pavilions

Located in downtown Chicago, IL, the four Exelon Pavilions are an integral part of Millennium Park, with two located on the south side of the park and two on the north.  The south side pavilions, designed by Renzo Piano, provide access to the parking garage below while incorporating solar technology: twenty-four PV modules are located on the roof of the southeast pavilion and 16 PV modules are located on the roof of the southwest pavilion.  Together they generate 3,840 kilowatt hours of electricity annually.

The north pavilions, designed by Hammond Beeby Rupert Ainge Architects, are the first instance of façade-integrated photovoltaics in Chicago and together are one of the largest PV-integrated projects in the United States.  Each pavilion incorporates 460 photovoltaic modules, and together, they generate 16,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually. The northwest pavilion is a 6,100 sq ft park welcome center featuring an interactive display that educates visitor on renewable energy and the northeast pavilion provides access to the parking garage below.  The pavilions have a LEED silver rating.







Millennium Park
August 4, 2009, 9:52 pm
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Located in downtown Chicago, Millennium Park is considered to be the largest intensive green roof in the world.  The 24.5 acre park spans two sub-grade parking garages and an existing rail yard and features Frank Gehry’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion, the Crown Fountain by Jaume Plensa, the Lurie Garden, and Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate.

The site was originally owned by the Illinois Central Railroad and was considered to be untouchable for nearly 150 years: the larger Grant Park was designed around the railway.  Though there were many attempts to add a park, plans were never implemented until the late 90’s when Mayor Richard M. Daley proposed a modest park with a budget of $150 million.  Four years past the original deadline and $325 million dollars over budget, the park opened in 2004 and is one of the most popular places in the city.

The structural deck spanning the parking garages and rail yard was designed to support four feet of soil allowing for over 900 trees, shrubs, groundcovers, perennials, and annuals to be planted in the park creating shade, managing storm water, cleaning the air, reducing the urban heat island, and providing residents and visitors of Chicago with a fantastic place to enjoy the outdoor city.







To learn more about Millennium Park visit

Greening Chicago
August 4, 2009, 4:41 pm
Filed under: Green Projects | Tags: ,
Downtown Chicago

Downtown Chicago

When Richard M. Daley became mayor of Chicago in 1989 he was dedicated to making Chicago the greenest city in the country.  His plan has included green roofs, photovoltaic systems, wind energy, green teaching facilities, Brownfield revitalization, public transportation, and biking infrastructure.  Currently, Chicago has more green roofs than any other city in the country and ranks fourth for the number of solar installations.

Chartreuse completed a series of Chicago case studies in July that demonstrate how Chicago is changing its carbon footprint one green project at a time.  We will be presenting one project a day for the next week.

Case studies include Millennium Park, the Exelon Pavilions, the McDonald’s Cycle Center, the Chicago Center for Green Technology, and the Near North Apartments.