MEC’s new green headquarters near Capitol offers access and meeting space
For the previous 32 years, MEC rented office space, most recently for almost 16 years on Pere Marquette street in a building owned by MEC supporter Jeff Padden (Public Policy Associates). While there, we grew from a staff of 4 to 14, with 4 or more interns each semester. We had simply outgrown our space.
Closer proximity to the Capitol and state agency buildings was a key consideration. Our new home on the corner of Pine and Ionia is just three blocks from the State Capitol and the major state agencies that MEC staff and member groups visit most.
The location and additional space allow us to serve as a convenient base of operations for our 60-plus member groups and partners visiting from around the state. We have wireless access for guests, comfortable places to prep for meetings with legislators, and ample parking. In fact, we had enough extra room to welcome MEC member group Michigan Recycling Coalition as tenants.
Built in 1890, the building most recently housed the offices of the legislative team for Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan, which owned it for more than 30 years. A large addition was constructed in 1980. The Morgan B. Hungerford House was listed in the State Register of Historic Places in 1984.
Going for LEED Gold
Prior to moving in, Julie Howe of Pace Howe Design in Old Town Lansing guided us in renovating the space using sustainable materials and practices. We:
- Installed fixtures that conserve water, including low-flow toilets and highly efficient faucets;
- Installed linoleum bathroom floors, made with natural ingredients such as linseed oil, wood powder and jute backing, with 33% recycled content and 34% rapidly renewable raw materials;
- Recycled and/or donated the existing carpet;
- Chose new carpet that is PVC free, 40% recycled content, and low VOC; and
- Used low-VOC paint.
We’re working to achieve Gold Certification for our new home under the LEED Existing Building Operations and Maintenance Program. Gavin Gardi of The Christman Company is guiding us through this process.
Through this initiative, MEC staff will monitor our organization’s behavior to ensure we live according to conservation principles and minimize our environmental footprint. Formal policies will guide us in:
- Managing our solid waste stream (recycling and trash disposal);
- Purchasing food, equipment and office supplies;
- Cleaning our office space and common areas;
- Removing snow and maintaining/irrigating our landscape; and
- Making alterations to the building’s interior and exterior.
As one example, we are using 100% post-consumer recycled paper for stationery, business cards and copy paper. We’ll track our compliance throughout 2013.
If resources permit over time, we’ll take additional steps to move MEC beyond our initial LEED-Gold plan.
Ultimately, our building provides us with a brick-and-mortar demonstration of the economic and environmental benefits of green buildings that we can leverage in our work to improve public policy. Our new home is the next major step in MEC’s long-term journey to increase our political stature and clout; stand toe-to-toe and shoulder-to-shoulder with powerful interests; and win bigger and more frequent victories for Michigan’s environment.
© Copyright Michigan Environmental Council, All rights reserved