Tour: LEED Certified Bishops Building

Bishops Building

IFMA Tulsa member Ross Phippen, CFM. with Cowen Construction was our host for a tour of the Bishops Building in April 2011.  The 110,000-SF, $34 million Bishop's Building, located at the St. Franics south campus at 91st Street and Highway 169, recently became the first medical building in the region to be LEED Gold-certified.

LEED, or Leadership in Energy Efficient Design, is a third-party certification system that measures the environmental friendliness of buildings.

John Cowen, president of Cowen Construction Inc., said while LEED certification used to be a rare goal, it is becoming more common.

"Let me put it this way," he said. "These days it is very seldom we don't at least talk about LEED certification at the front end of a new project. And regardless of weather, we are seeking LEED certification. We are still employing a lot of the same best practices in our projects."

The company is no stranger to LEED projects. Cowen last year completed the Pediatric Dental Group's new LEED Silver-certified building at Sixth Street and Utica Avenue and has in many ways laid the groundwork for Tulsa to embrace green building practices.

"One of the LEED certification requirements is that you use subcontractors and vendors that have been trained under the LEED program," Cowen said.  "Three years ago when we started this project, maybe 5 percent of Tulsa?s subcontractors and suppliers had completed those requirements. We sponsored the classes and invited the construction community, and we ended up adding upward of 30 subcontractors to that list."

Cowen said many of the requirements are common sense.

"A lot of these things, installing efficient HVAC systems and a reflective white roof, for example, you would be silly not to do regardless," he said."Recycling construction debris is another one. On this project, we were able to divert 90 percent of our waste away from landfills. The difference is whether you are willing to put in the time to follow up on the administrative side. After we finished everything at the site, there was another six months? worth of paperwork we had to complete to document everything we did. That is a big commitment."

Other green features at the building include multistory parking in lieu of surface lots, a gray water collection tank and native landscape plants.

While many of the employed technologies are fairly basic, they require additional commitments of time and money, Cowen said.

"The challenge lies in committing to do it," he said. "The systems that are going in aren't new or complex; they're just a little out of the ordinary, so you're talking about a commitment of more money and the need for a lot more planning."

After the tour of the facility, IFMA Tulsa members were treated to a happy hour at the Fox & Hound.  Lindsay Farr, IFMA Tulsa's Emerging Leaders Chair, welcomed those chapter members that have expressed interest in becoming involved in the IFMA Tulsa chapter Emerging Leaders' program.  This was the first gathering of the chapter's Emerging Leaders group and a number of additional events are being planned for the remainder of the year.  The chapter provided door prizes for the Emerging Leaders and no one left without a prize. 

Many thanks to Ross and Lindsay for hosting this great program.