Since its creation in 1974, the Kentucky Association of Counties (KACo) has been representing the needs of county government in legislative matters and offering a variety of services to county governments throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

When the Frankfort-based not-for-profit decided to building a new building for its operations, it looked to founding father Thomas Jefferson for inspiration. Jefferson’s philosophy was that architecture and government should be simple and inspiring. The 48,000-square-foot, bi-level, wing-shaped facility is fashioned after Jefferson’s home, Monticello, and emphasizes that traditional design can be green. Upon the building’s completion in 2008, then KACo President David Jenkins described the structure as a “focal point for efficiency, innovation, and dedication to [its] citizens.”

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From project inception, KACo’s board of directors pursued LEED® Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to assure the best use of increasingly scarce resources. The project team focused on sustainability, defined as ‘useable and intuitively economical,’ and saw its central task as integrating the expressed needs of the owner with the site’s inherent strengths and an environmentally conscious building design. Ultimately, the building achieved 45 points and has been awarded the LEED Gold Certification Rating.

The KACo building’s foundation and lower level is constructed entirely of cast-in-place concrete for durability and energy efficiency. The lower level includes office space and to take advantage of the structure’s sloped lot, there is a walkout to a large, stamped concrete patio. The front porch also features stamped concrete. 

The team relied on market-competitive methods of conserving water and supplying energy to the development through the use of technologically advanced strategies. Low-flow plumbing fixtures reduce the building’s strain on municipal water supply by 40 percent. The training facility’s hybrid geothermal multi-zone system, sophisticated lighting controls, and integrated performance monitoring achieve an annual reduction of 275,000 kilowatt hours (kWh), from ASHRAE’s (formerly the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers) modeled 654,879 kWh.

To offset 76 percent of electricity consumption for a two year period, the board purchased ‘green power’ Renewable Energy Certificates through Carbon Solutions Group. Designed for an annual electricity savings of $23,430, the new facility is 58 percent more efficient than a typical office building, earning exemplary performance for innovation.

To balance the post construction microclimate, the ‘heat island effect’ was reduced on the roof and the hardscape. Reflective materials, a white aluminum cupola, and copper shingles cover 100 percent of the roof’s surface and lower the cooling load.

On the vast ground surface, pervious concrete pavement, conventional concrete pavements, and native landscaping keep the ambient temperature lower than the typical parking lot. To offset the reduction of green space from the previously graded site, vegetated bio-swales, open space, and detention basins encourage storm water infiltration and reduce the rate of run-off.

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To reduce the project’s embodied energy, 30 percent of the building materials contain recycled content including recycled concrete for all engineered fill. Due to the project’s Midwest shipping location, more than 40 percent of the building materials were manufactured and harvested within 500 miles of the site. One architect involved in the project described the building as hyper-local.

Among the local products is a concrete cladding for a portion of the building’s exterior,  designed to give the appearance of limestone.

During construction, 84 percent of all waste was sorted and then sent to recycling facilities. In addition, materials were specified as sustainably harvested and with minimal volatile organic compounds.

Alternative transportation is encouraged with carpool and hybrid vehicle parking spaces as well as a bicycle rack, showers and changing rooms.

Architect: Brandstetter Carroll Inc.
Civil Engineer: Brandstetter Carroll Inc.
Commissioning Agent: Facility Commissioning Group
Landscape Architect: Brandstetter Carroll Inc.
Project LEED APs: Roger Lashbrook, Codell Construction; Katherine Zurlage, BCI; Jesse Dixon, BCI Lighting
Designer: Norris and Associates
MEP Engineer: Norris and Associates
Structural Engineer: Poage Engineering
Project Size: 49,200 gross square feet
Total Project Cost: $9 million
Cost Per Square Foot: $183
Year: 2009
Case study Information courtesy of Kentucky USGBC Chapter