Home An inside look at what it means to go green

An inside look at what it means to go green


It’s a big pile of dirt now. In 8-10 months, it will be a LEED Platinum-certified long-term care pharmacy. And The Augusta Free Press and The New Dominion Magazine will be there every step of the way.

“The more I looked into building a green building, we came to realize that you can build a very efficient green building for just a little bit more money than a conventional building,” said Dan Atwell, the owner of Wellness Concepts, a Grottoes-based long-term care pharmacy that serves nursing-home and assisted-living facilities in the Valley, and is set to move into a new 18,000-square-foot space at the corner of Dogwood Avenue and 10th Street in Grottoes.

The new space will triple what Wellness Concepts has at its current location on Augusta Avenue, and Atwell thinks he can actually save money, a lot of money, long term even with the larger building by going green up front.

“When you look at the cost of a building, the upfront cost is just a very small part when you consider the cost of maintaining that building over all the years that you’re going to be occupying it. So we’re going to have a little bit more cost upfront, but we’re going to save that many times over,” Atwell said after a formal groundbreaking ceremony at the project site Wednesday morning.

Atwell started thinking green five years ago when he and his wife, Cathie, hired builder Glen Stoltzfus to build their new home. Stoltzfus was green before green was cool, in a way of speaking.

“I always felt like insulation is the cheapest fuel you’ll ever buy. You pay for it once, and it helps you from then on. I’ve always been very energy-conscious in that way, but now it’s expanding more into lighting systems and heating and air-conditioning systems and stormwater runoff,” said Stoltzfus, the owner of the Harrisonburg-based Glen Stoltzfus Builders.

It was Stoltzfus who sold the Atwells on the idea of going green with their new Wellness Concepts project. The team assembled for the project includes a guy named Charles Hendricks, a Harrisonburg-based architect with The Gaines Group who I came into contact with in the spring when we were working on a feature story for The New Dominion Magazine on green building in the Valley.

“It’s a holistic thinking that you have to have to go through the LEED process,” Hendricks told me. “One of the first meetings that we had, everybody was at the table, the owners, the LEED consultant, the builder. We talked about the strategies that we needed to put into it. How big does the building need to be, what kind of energy efficiency do we want to get, where are the materials going to come from. What’s the budget – the budget is going to be really important. Because you want to maxmize your dollars to achieve the right goals to achieve certification.”

Hendricks has invited me to sit in on the build team’s Friday meetings to get a feel for the planning and implementation work that goes into a LEED certification.

I’ll be doing just that, and reporting back monthly as the next 8-10 months go on so we can all learn a little what it means to go green.


– Story by Chris Graham



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