Environmental Protection

MCA Headquarters Made from Old Cans and Carpets

The new headquarters of the Mechanical Contractors Association (MCA) of Chicago, located in the peaceful suburb of Burr Ridge, Ill., is a recycled masterpiece, according to a recent press release.

The association recently held an open house and ribbon-cutting to celebrate the grand opening of its facility.

"For years, we had been based in a downtown Chicago suite," said Stephen Lamb, executive vice president of MCA Chicago, "but it became clear we needed our own facility to hold educational sessions for our member contractors. And because of our strong commitment to green building, our new headquarters had to be green."

Visitors to the new headquarters enter through doors made from recycled material and walk over entryway mats designed to attract and hold dust and dirt.

"The carpets, wallpaper, and kitchen floor tiles are all made from recycled material," said Dan Bulley, senior vice president of MCA Chicago and a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Accredited Professional. "The carpets are composed of many smaller sections, so if a high-traffic area wears out, those individual sections can be removed and replaced."

The kitchen counters are composed of recycled aluminum. Even the furniture is re-used. The millwork in the main serving area is made from wood salvaged from ash trees that had to be cut down because they were infested with emerald ash borers. "The infestation is in the bark but the trees are typically cut down and burned. We were able to use that wonderful wood," said Bulley. The building also has its own recycling center.

The building's HVAC system was designed to optimize indoor air quality. Paints, sealants, and epoxies used throughout the building were selected because they are low-emitting products, which contribute to better indoor air quality by releasing minimal toxins over time.

In the restrooms, lights go on automatically when visitors enter. The low-flush urinals use only one pint instead of one gallon, and the water closets use only 1.28 gallons. Motion-sensitive faucets turn on when visitors are ready to wash their hands, and high-powered dryers eliminate the need for paper towels. The building's water-conserving plumbing was donated by Sloan Valve.

The building uses high-efficiency light-emitting diode (LED) lighting mixed with new T-5 fluorescent lighting. Room occupancy sensors turn off lights after visitors leave. These measures save 30 percent over traditional lighting.

The permanent walls of the building have been filled with Icynene, an energy-saving foam insulation which was sprayed into place once electrical and plumbing services were installed. The foam then expanded to fill all gaps in the walls, sealing the building envelope and providing a superior level of thermal, draft, moisture and sound insulation.

In the building's workspaces, 85 percent of the interior walls are modular. These moveable walls can be produced and installed with less impact on the environment and then either reconfigured or moved with little waste.

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