Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
From the start, our team knew that we wanted to be as energy-efficient as possible, out of respect for the environment and also in the interest of keeping our own energy bills down. LEED certification never crossed our minds until our Architect Tim Woodle, after reviewing all the practices we wanted to implement, said that with the direction we were headed, if we wanted to pursue it, we could probably qualify for LEED certification. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design—it is about the larger environment and the work environment itself, as well as energy-efficiency. Certification is awarded by the US Green Building Council using a point system. A building project accumulates points by being environmentally responsible, profitable and a healthy place to work.
Beginning with site-selection: the winery is situated on the coolest, shadiest spot, cut into a hillside, so the building is partially sub-grade. The walls are tilt-up concrete, a total of 14 inches thick with a 3-inch foam core creating superb insulation… and spotty cell reception! Each barrel room is equipped with night-air cooling, which means we can take full advantage of the gorgeous cool nights we get here in Paso Robles to reduce our chilling requirements. The roof over the main part of the building has many skylights and all the lighting in the winery is equipped with daylight sensors—so lights don’t turn on at all unless the natural light is insufficient—and motion sensors—so even when there is not sufficient natural light, the lights only come on when there is activity in the area and are timed to turn off after a period of inactivity. Our energy efficient strategies have resulted in a 15% reduction of building energy costs compared to California standards.
Recycled or recyclable materials, in addition to low VOC paints and floorings were used whenever possible. Additionally, over 80% of our construction waste was recycled during construction.
Our efficiency doesn’t stop there. Water conservation was an important practice we wanted to employ in our everyday operation, both inside the winery and outside. Most of the landscaped areas are natural grasses that require no irrigation. The remaining landscaped areas use native and adapted species with efficient drip irrigation, reducing overall water demand by nearly 90% when compared to traditional landscape design. The water that is used for irrigation is provided entirely by the captured rain water from our roof system and recycled process water. Zero gallons of potable water are used for the landscape, saving us nearly 1 million gallons of water every year. The remaining non-potable water is used to irrigate the vineyards. The end result is an efficient and elegant landscape that contributes greatly to the beauty of our estate. Water conserving lavatories, sinks, showers and toilets were used throughout all the buildings at Niner Wine Estates, resulting in a 30% savings in indoor water use.
LEED certification is growing in popularity, with many wineries beginning to jump on board in their quest to become more “green.” Many LEED certified projects are expansions, where the additions to the building are designed and built with certification as the goal. In this situation, only the additions receive certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
After working to obtain certification for all three of our buildings—the Hospitality Center, small Demonstration Winery and Main Production Winery — our team proudly announced in Spring 2011our LEED certification at the Silver level. As the first winery on the Central Coast of California, and one of only four wineries in the entire state to have recieved this certification, our team could not be more thrilled!
“The green building movement offers an unprecedented opportunity to respond to the most important challenges of our time, including global climate change, dependence on non-sustainable and expensive sources of energy and threats to human health,” said Rick Fedrizzi, President , CEO & Founding Chair, U.S. Green Building Council. “The work of innovative building projects such as Niner Wine Estates is a fundamental driving force in this movement.”
Learn more about the US Green Building Council and LEED Certification here.