Saturday, March 26, 2016

[Re-post, by request] The Greenwashing of the Lake Worth Casino building and the problems which will only get worse over time

An article was published in the Post that delves with what you'll learn below about this long-ignored problem which began in 2009/2010. Here are two excerpts from the article:
      When the building, which cost $6 million [emphasis added], was opened in 2013, it was riddled with issues, including water intrusion, bad drainage, leaking and rusting.
[and. . .]
     “We’ve lost revenue and it’s put a strain on the financial plan that was designed for that building,” Maxwell [Vice Mayor Scott Maxwell] said. “It’s also caused political issues. The city of Lake Worth has been an afterthought in all of this and I don’t think our best interests where in the forefront of what y’all were doing.”
     Gonzalez [Rick Gonzalez from REG] said the building was an $8 million project done for $6 million.
     The city borrowed $6 million from itself to demolish and repair the building, a loan the city said it has struggled to pay back. The city has also been unable to lease the upstairs space because of the building’s numerous issues.
The $6 million figure will be important to remember going forward. Not only is the City way behind on the loan payments to the taxpayers/utility customers who put up the loan money it's also important to remember that many of the required "Green" elements were Greenwashed from the project in 2009/2010. In case you're curious, that would be part of the $2 million that was "saved". Doesn't look like much of a deal now does it?
It was confirmed on March 2nd that the Casino building lacks its green building certification. This is required by state law. The building still has a temporary certificate of occupancy which reflects the on-going problems present in the construction of the building. These problems were discussed at recent City Commission meetings in light of the City possibly having to declare the architect and general contractor of the building in default. This "green" certification is another item that must be addressed. This is a major issue.

Here is a portion of the state law which mandates green certification for government buildings:
255.2575 Energy-efficient and sustainable buildings.
(1) The Legislature declares that there is an important state interest in promoting the construction of energy-efficient and sustainable buildings. Government leadership in promoting these standards is vital to demonstrate the state’s commitment to energy conservation, saving taxpayers money, and raising public awareness of energy rating systems.
(2) All county, municipal, school district, water management district, state university, Florida College System institution, and state court buildings shall be constructed to comply with a sustainable building rating system or a national model green building code. This section applies to all county, municipal, school district, water management district, state university, Florida College System institution, and state court buildings the architectural plans of which are commenced after July 1, 2008.
The architect was selected in 2010 and the general contractor selected a few months later by a previous City Commission which included such notable "Green" commissioners you may remember: Cara Jennings, JoAnn Golden, Suzanne Mulvehill and in November 2010 the now-sitting Commissioner Chris McVoy joined the group. Rene Varela was the mayor at the time.

The promise made at the time was to "save the building" and everyone praised that it would be the most "Green" alternative, rather than construct a new building. The building was to contain Green and renewable energy features. Some of the more fantastical features proposed (which never came to be) for the building were a storm water re-use system that would employ a cistern and for wind turbines to generate electricity for the building. These proposals were just a few of the early causalities of budget and engineering constraints.

The Casino building, as it sits today, is a new building. The building that was previously there was 94% demolished. There was no effort at salvaging material from the demolition. There is no utilization of mass transit alternatives to the site. Were energy efficiency of materials and equipment used in the construction of the new building selected for their energy efficiency? The building is not built on pilings (which then-sitting Commissioner McVoy should have objected to) which would have fortified the foundation in the event of a storm surge or from rising sea levels. The seawall is the building's last line of protection from these hazards and it has not been professionally examined to determine if it could survive a storm surge event.
Remember, the previous Casino building was not "renovated", "saved", or "restored". It was 94% demolished and the present Casino building was constructed in its place without pilings, east of the Coastal Construction Control Line.
All of these features would have contributed toward the Casino building being a "Green" and "sustainable" structure. These were removed from the project in order to keep the cost under $6 million dollars. Now there is a question of whether or not the building will ever meet "Green" certification standards. Remember, this is required by state law.

For example, note another project near the ocean in the city of Deerfield Beach. They started their internationally acclaimed pier construction in 2010 and finished in 2012. Their pier and complex has a "Green" certification and the Lake Worth Casino still does not. Just thought I would point that out.

Here's an interesting piece from the Florida Bar Journal from April, 2011 titled, "The Latest in Green Development: Advising Your Client on the New Standard for Real Estate Projects." Here is an excerpt:
     These practices demand new skills for their implementation as development, design, construction, and leasing disciplines become infused with concepts previously more commonly associated with environmental science. These green concerns will affect, if not transform, the way business is conducted in real estate projects, from choice of site, selection of raw materials and their processing techniques, fabrication of products, methods of on-site construction and building components, transportation of product components, and commissioning, through the ongoing maintenance and replacement of project components during the lifespan of the project.
The Commission making the decisions at the time of the building's design and construction did something referred to as "Greenwashing." However, if you recall, former Commissioner Cara Jennings (including others like her recent Anarchist candidate, who lost in a landslide) spent a lot of time in Palm Beach Gardens for many years focused on some of their development projects. Was that what caused her and others to loose focus while the Casino construction project was being Greenwashed?

Stay tuned for more on this.

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