The 48-year-old Vienna Community Center is being renovated, enlarged and modernized. The two-story building on Cherry Street S.E. is 28,814 square feet and is used practically ’round the clock for everything from classes to club meetings to craft fairs to sports.
But it’s leaking in several places, lacks high-tech wiring for laptops and needs new electrical and HVAC (heating and air conditioning) systems, plus repairs to the classroom floors and walls and a new roof. And since the gym’s too small and its ceiling too low for league play, an 8,000-square-foot gym will be built in the back.
It’s a big project, though, and the Town of Vienna is making sure it’s being done exactly the way it wants and that its money will be well-spent. The work’s funded by the town’s Capital Improvement budget, courtesy of a $4 million bond issue in fall 2013. But according to Parks and Recreation Director Cathy Salgado, probably another $1 million will be needed before it’s all done.
Construction is expected to start early next winter and take about 16 months, with dedication of the new portion slated for the community center’s 50th anniversary in April 2016. And last Monday, June 9, Salgado and the architect, Gregory Lukmire, presented the latest information about the project and answered questions during a Town Council work session.
Regarding the larger gym, Salgado said it would be slightly on school property, “so we’d have to come to agreement with them.” Lukmire said it’s a “tight site because the Park Authority wants an 18-foot trail, a 4-6-foot sidewalk and a 60-foot parking area.”
THE MAJOR TOPIC, though, was whether to pursue a LEED Silver certification for the building. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is a “green” building-certification program recognizing best-in-class building strategies and practices.
“The community center will be a showcase for our community, to show how it can be done the right way,” said Vice-Mayor Carey Sienicki. “So I believe LEED silver should be incorporated at the beginning of the project.”
Salgado also recommended commissioning – having a third party come in and “certify that the heating and air-conditioning systems will do what they’re supposed to, through all four seasons.” She said the LEED certification would cost $44,000 and commissioning could cost $28,000 or less.
“Right now, the community center is an energy sieve.”
— Gregory Lukmire, architect
Councilwoman Laurie Cole asked what the Town would get for this money. Besides a plaque, said Salgado, the Community Center would be Vienna’s first building to have LEED certification, as well as “53 points [of work required for the certification] that might not be done, otherwise.”
“You make sure everything possible is sustainable,” said Lukmire. “But it’s up to you.”
Councilman Emil Attanasi asked if the community center would then cost less to operate, and Lukmire said it’s possible. “Right now, the community center is an energy sieve, so part of this will optimize the systems,” he said. “For example, if we increase the insulation and have a better HVAC system, it’ll cost less to operate.”
Salgado also noted that City staff would like to use a VRV (variable refrigerant volume) system. “It costs 15 percent more than HVAC, but the payback is in 7-15 years,” she said.
“You now have 16 rooftop units,” explained Lukmire. “The VRV system enables you to, for example, have one room in cooling and an adjacent one in heating, rather than [the whole building] being all cooled or all heated. Or you can have a hybrid system with a great deal of flexibility, with both rooftop units and thermostats in different rooms because of the different types of activities in them. We’ve already had a team out [to investigate the building], so we know it’ll work.”
Some of the LEED certification, said Salgado, is about “how we want the building to look and feel. [For example], it’s important to have good lighting in energy-efficient and non-glare windows, after going so many years without them.”
Mayor Laurie DiRocco said commissioning is a good way “to know if we’re saving money and being energy-efficient so we can use these ideas in other buildings.” Basically, added Salgado, “It’s our report card.” And Councilwoman Edythe Kelleher said it would provide “a certain level of assurance that [we’re] living to a standard.”
SALGADO said staff is researching funding sources such as grants, “for the building materials, like porous asphalt and porous concrete, that we’ll use.” Sienicki said this plan would also help with stormwater retention. Agreeing, Town attorney Steve Briglia called LEED silver certification “a step in the right direction.”
Salgado said the site’s currently being surveyed for stormwater management and said the Town should consider whether it wants to “build in some capacity for the future, if something else is built [there].” Lukmire said it would be important to have if a swimming pool is added later on.
“We’ll have to do a geotechnical investigation, boring into the earth to see if the water goes into the ground or just sits there and ponds,” he said. “Since it’s a phased project, you might want to think about [a possible pool] now.”