Meadowlark Builders aiming for net-zero energy use in new HQ

An old school house in Ann Arbor is on its way to becoming a model and hub for education in green building techniques.

Meadlowlark Builders is rehabbing the interior and exterior of its new headquarters at 3250 W. Liberty Street, and within three years plans to make its HQ a net-zero energy building, defined as having zero net energy consumption and zero carbon emissions per year.

Thus far the firm has renovated the interior surfaces, walls, and floors, and upgraded the duct system. It will soon be installing a more efficient heating and cooling system to which heat pump technology can be added and experimented with in the future.

"In the future we'll be testing out the efficacy of air-sourced heat pumps versus geothermal heat pumps," says Doug Selby, owner of Meadowlark Builders.

By year-end, Selby says, the building envelope will be maximally efficient. Further plans call for new insulation on the outer plane of the roof deck, a metal roof for water harvesting, solar panels and heat energy storage vessels, and smart energy-tracking technology.

A classroom will be used for educational purposes, keeping the building's school house heritage intact.

"I would be interested in having the public in for a variety of functions, not just as customers, but also just anybody who wants to learn about various issues in green building..." Selby says. Other options include home repair classes for women.

Selby plans to have the property's lot blend in with the adjoining Lakeview Natural Area and Dolph Park. Some of the parking lot asphalt will be removed and the area planted with natural prairie grasses, native plants, and edible medicinal plants. The goal for exterior maintenance is zero water use, with water harvested from the building's roof.

By summer, the interior cosmetic work should be complete and the exterior work will have commenced, according to Selby. A grand opening is planned for late summer.

Source: Doug Selby, owner of Meadowlark Builders
Writer: Tanya Muzumdar
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