Sunday, June 22, 2008

Green Building Bike Tour

With the number of LEED-certified and green buildings in St. Louis on the rise, Tim Montgomery thought a bicycle tour of such establishments would be an ideal intro to this year's Greening the Heartland Conference.

Montgomery, an architect with TMA Architects, LLC, and Dr. John Sweet, trustee of the Wm. A. Kerr Foundation, lead 30 bikers from the St. Louis riverfront (now mostly under water) 11 miles west to University City, stopping at numerous sustainable buildings along the way.

They began their tour at the Kerr Foundation building, a former bathhouse built in 1895, that has been converted into a Platinum LEED-certified space, one of only two in St. Louis. With a rooftop garden, skylights, bamboo flooring and St. Louis' first wind turbine, this multi-use building is set in the city's industrial area, just north of the casinos and east of Highway 70.

After a lunch and some drinks, the group headed west to Grandel Square where they received a short tour of the EarthWays Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to environmental education. It is located in one of the city's rapidly developing urban areas, Grand Center. At Earthways the group was shown more application for green living, from energy-efficient lightbulbs to recycled flooring to composting capabilities.

Next stop: Bowood Farms, an urban greenhouse and farm that grows its own vegetables and plants on site and in Pike County, Missouri. Formerly an auto repair warehouse, Bowood, located in the Central West End, also sells its own grass-fed bison.

Then onto the Solae and Cortex buildings, set in the middle of the Barnes Jewish hospital complex just south of the Central West End. All sides of both buildings are covered in windows, thus supplying natural light to nearly every work space.

After a quick break for some locally-brewed Budweiser, the tour rode north to the Roberts Place Homes, a gated housing development with high-efficiency windows, bamboo flooring, and geothermal heating and cooling.

Final stop: The Loop's Big Shark Bicycle Company, one of St. Louis' largest and most active bike shops.

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