Environmental sustainability has long followed the ancient Jewish values of Bal Tashchit, the principal laws prohibiting waste and destruction. With the large scale construction project for the JRC synagogue, this meant incorporating the design principals set out by the USGBC LEED rating system. The goal: to become the first Gold Certified LEED synagogue in the world.
The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification is based on a rating system which awards points in five key categories: sustainable site development, water savings, materials selection, indoor environmental quality, and energy efficiency. Certification is awarded as Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Certified.
Creative reuse of materials was incorporated to ensure that the project stayed on track with Bal Tashchit values. A tree, which had to be removed from the site prior to construction, was milled to become a ceremonial door.
•Optimized daylight with a multitude of windows
•A white, reflective roof
•HVAC programmed into zones
•Salvaged and renewable building materials
•High recycled content in building materials
•Polished concrete flooring
The demolition of the façade from the old building was crushed and used as backfill for the foundation of the site. All of the buildings exterior was crafted from reclaimed cypress so no new tress had to be harvested.
The remaining building materials were also scrutinized to ensure that they contained a high volume of recycled content. From the steel used to build the structure to the fly ash included in the concrete pour, salvaged, reused, and renewable resources were incorporated into every material choice.
The choice for polished concrete as the flooring choice was an easy one, as it offers reuse of building materials, reflectivity which supplements the lighting required, requires very little maintenance, and does not contribute VOCs.
“Polished concrete was chosen because of the indoor air quality. It contributed no VOCs.” Drew Walters with Bulley Andrews General Contracting mentions.
“Polished concrete is unique as a flooring alterative,” says Erin O’Brien of Perfect Polish. “The slab is an essential element to all construction projects. Polishing the exposed concrete to create a desirable finish is one of the least resource-demanding systems out there and helps to dematerialize the project.”
The project was not without its complications, as was soon discovered when the operating team of Perfect Polish got on the scene. “We thought [the concrete floors] were flat and smooth, but when the grinders got on them, it was a different story. There were a lot of dips and crevices,” Andrews explains.
The scope of work was specified as a light grind (cream finish), with an 800 grit sheen level, (Natural Wonder Level 3).
“We wanted to make sure the architect and owners were happy with the results, so we incorporated additional grind steps to achieve a more consistent look,” describes O’Brien. Andrews elaborates, “The [polished] concrete guys put a lot of effort into it.”
The three story building ended up with different aggregates exposures on the floors due to the additional grind steps, but the final sheen was exactly what the owners desired –a highly reflective surface.