Since beginning in the landscape industry over 30 years ago, Ruppert has been consistently making a positive impact on the environment. The company has planted approximately one million trees and shrubs since its inception and has 475 acres of wholesale tree nursery in Montgomery County, Maryland, growing 70,000 trees to be sold along the East Coast. The company is not new to the green movement, which is continually gaining momentum, as it’s simply the nature of the business. What is new, however, is that the company is using its resources proactively to make more of an impact on the green initiative by constructing a LEED-certified corporate headquarter campus in Laytonsville, Maryland.
The LEED rating (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a nationally accepted benchmark of the U.S. Green Building Council for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings. Ruppert is seeking LEED-NC 2.2 basic certification on its two office buildings and platinum level certification, which is the highest rating available, on its soon-to-be-constructed vehicle/equipment shop. Currently there are relatively few basic certified buildings in the Washington/Baltimore metropolitan area, and even fewer platinum level sites. Certification is awarded following completion of construction and providing the registration requirements have been met or exceeded.
There are five key areas of measurement for a building to be certified as green: site sustainability; water efficiency; energy use and savings; materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality. “There are so many details that go into building green,” said Dean Rasco, project manager at Ruppert Properties, the developer of the project and one of the Ruppert companies. “Depending on the certification level you seek, it’s about everything from the percentage and type of daylight utilized to the type of materials you use to how your employees get to work and how you recycle your waste. We’re meeting our requirements using hybrid vehicles and offering alternative transportation; re-capturing rainwater; installing a green roof; using low-flow plumbing; installing an HVAC system that regulates humidity to heat or cool as necessary; using low-emitting materials in all sealants, paints and carpeting; controlling our lighting with motion detectors; and using alternate fuels, such as internally-generated waste oil and renewable energy sources such as solar power; and — still under investigation — wind power.”
“If you visit our construction site, the one thing you’ll notice is its cleanliness,” said Rasco. “In order to build green, the site has to be tightly sealed. More than 75% of our construction waste is diverted from landfills to be recycled and removed from the site as quickly as the dumpsters fill. Part of building green is also using as much regional material as possible. This may cost more in the short run, but creates value considering the environmental effects of reduced fuel use, not to mention the positive effects on the local economy.”
Partially hidden from view by creative landscape grading, the campus will house the company’s corporate offices (11,900 SF) and two of Ruppert Nurseries’ local landscape and landscape management branches (7,600 SF). Also key to the site is the Allnut House, listed on the Montgomery County historic register. “Although the Allnut House is not going to be certified as green,” said Bill Meissner, president of Ruppert Properties and project developer “We are using the same green construction practices in the renovation of that building. While paying strict attention toward the historic stewardship of the house, we are also upgrading the house’s systems in order to be energy efficient and as green as possible.”
The campus will support Ruppert Companies, which consists of Ruppert Nurseries and Ruppert Properties. Ruppert Properties specializes in light/industrial warehouse development and redevelopment throughout the Baltimore/Washington metropolitan region Ruppert Nurseries performs commercial landscape construction, landscape management and grows large-caliper trees. The 16-acre campus is surrounded by 160 acres of Ruppert Nurseries’ trees in a Montgomery County agricultural preservation zone.