Triple Mountain's LEED-based retail store

As part of our committment to living gently on the Triple Mountain, our retail store was created with LEED standards in mind.  LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. From the US Green Building Council website, "LEED-certified buildings are resource efficient. They use less water and energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As an added bonus, they save money." (  Construction projects are expected to re-use existing items whenever possible, reduce the amount of waste generated considerably, recycle as much waste as possible, to prevent it from entering the landfill system.

Let me be clear, our store is not LEED-certified.  While we are certain that it qualifies for certification based on the standards we maintained in its construction, the application fee for a LEED inspection is $4500, in addition to the cost of hiring a LEED Commissioning Authority and renting equipment to measure air flow, etc.  These expenses are more than we can justify spending to put a plaque on the building.  Our reward comes in the satisfaction of knowing that we achieved an energy-efficient building and in the reduced operating costs it provides.  However, for those interested in what we did to maintain LEED standards through construction and operation, a summarized copy of our certification documentation is below:


Integrative Process (Retail)

Site Selection and Energy-Related Systems (1 point)

Instead of building a new structure to become the store, we salvaged an existing building elsewhere on the property, moving it to its new location and renovating it (see later sections) into a useable store building with sales floor and storage area.  The sales floor is divided into the main room (350 sq. feet) and a second room of approximately 90 sq. feet.  Storage is available in a third room and a loft over the two back rooms, providing a combined storage area of approximately 270 sq. feet.  The enclosed front porch will allow for an additional 120’ of display area when needed.

In order to minimize changes to the landscape, we chose an area to situate the building where the hillside had been dug back (pre-2000, as a test dig for a gravel pit once planned for this property before we purchased it.)  The hillside needed to be stabilized to reduce erosion, so we brought the bankings back to a more stable angle and reduced tree load at the edges of the dig to prevent collapse.  This positioning creates heating and cooling benefits, described later.

The section of land that we chose as the store site is part of ten acres we divided off for use from the total acreage of the Triple Mountain.  The remaining approximately 290 acres has been placed in Tree Growth for preservation.  The cut in the banking shields most of three sides of the building (excluding the front and first five feet of the sides) from wind.  Deciduous trees reduce the amount of direct sunlight on the roof in summer while allowing the sun to warm the roof in winter.

To keep the building level while disturbing as little of the soil as possible, we created three strip slabs on the site, each approximately 2’ x 30’, upon which the building now sits on blocks.  This allows for more natural ventilation of the soil and area between the building and the ground.  (Trellis skirting keeps the slabs and blocks out of view of customers.)   Room has been left behind the building for addition of a bathroom featuring a compost toilet, expected to be constructed in 2016.

The building was positioned to face South by South-East, which is at an approximate 25% angle from the main road, which is visible about 220’ down Nature’s Way.  This meets the Owner’s requirement of the building being visible from Rt 113 to attract customers while being positioned to receive passive solar heating through the large windows of the enclosed front porch.

Other attractive features include:  Proximity to the owner’s home (approximately 430’), allowing the owners to travel by foot, reducing transportation cost to man the building.  Proximity to the owner’s home electric meter, situated on a pedestal approximately 20’ from the store’s front left corner, has allowed us to attach the store to their electric account, thereby accessing solar power generated at the owner’s home from 18 photovoltaic panels installed in September, 2015.  The enclosed porch helps trap heat in the winter, while sliding windows on both sides allows a cross-breeze to prevent over-heating in summer.  Both the building and enclosed porch have windows facing East and West that can be opened to balance temperature as needed.

As primary regular occupant of the building, the owner will continue to assess the space’s performance in regard to efficiency and comfort of both employees and customers.  Changes will be made based on the goals of efficiency, safety, and comfort, while being implemented in a manner best serving our goal to be an Earth-Friendly, low-impact business.

Energy-Related Systems

The building we renovated previously had no electrical wiring.  We needed to install sufficient electrical outlets to allow flexibility in sales floor arrangement, lighted display cases, register operations, etc., and to install appropriate lighting for the sales floor that allows highlighting product displays, and efficient lighting for the storage area.

With the building’s outer siding removed (it needed to be replaced), Wayne Adams, of Adams Electrical Services, installed an inset circuit breaker box (in the storage room) to avoid using up valuable interior space, and ran wiring for outlets and light fixtures.  A ceiling fan was installed in the cathedral ceiling to help make more efficient use of heating and cooling appliances.  He planned for the additional load of an air conditioning unit that will be needed in the summer, and advised us on fixture purchases that came with halogen bulbs but can be swapped to LED bulbs for the sales floor (planned to be swapped in stages during spring and summer of 2016), and LED light bars for the storage areas.  An exterior light, required by the insurance company, is LED and is set for motion to reduce usage.

Upon removal of the exterior siding, we found that the existing fiberglass insulation was like new, and didn’t need replacement.  We did install backed fiberglass insulation under the floor to prevent cold from seeping in from the air space and ground below.  Trellis skirting reduced wind flow under the building, helping to increase insulation value slightly.  It was determined that roof insulation will need to be replaced in 2016, and plans are being made to purchase blown-in, eco-friendly insulation for that purpose.

New OSB and Ship-lap exterior siding were purchased and installed on the exterior, both to increase the insulating value of the walls and for ascetic purposes.  The ship-lap was purchased directly from a lumber mill approximately 10 miles from the building site, reducing the carbon footprint of that product.

Four existing windows in the sales floor area were left as-is.  The two facing into the enclosed porch slide open and are equipped with screens to allow more direct access to passive solar heat collected there.  Two on the building sides are designed for UV protection and are double hung to provide ventilation as needed.  Three windows on the rear of the building were in poor shape and were removed.  Each back room was the provided with a new window purchased from the Habitat For Humanity Store in South Portland, ME.  These are former home egress-sized windows with UV glazing, and both can be opened for ventilation or emergency egress.  The window opening in the loft was boarded up for the winter, but can be opened to support an air conditioner in summer, positioned to cool the entire building from above.  An electrical outlet was situated beside that opening for that express purpose.  This is expected to be a temporary air conditioning solution, with a plan in place to install a heat pump in 2017.

The enclosed porch, which was originally screened, has been closed in with two up-cycled large glass windows, which in their previous lives were sliding doors.  These were purchased from a front yard in Conway, NH, approximately 14 miles from the building, on our way back from a supply run to Home Depot there.  Serendipitously, they appeared for sale on the day we were planning to search for windows to purchase for that purpose, and fit the openings with just some minor framing required.  The ends of the porch were enclosed with storm windows purchased new for that purpose.  While thin, they are framed into the building and open, providing cross-ventilation when required.  A plan to install a solar-powered fan to vent the eves is in the works for summer, 2016, and the panel has already been procured.

A new front door was purchased with full glass for visibility and to increase access to the passive solar heat generated in the porch area.  It also provides views of the pond and mountains beyond.

The store’s register system is a modern, i-Phone-based system with a wireless credit card reader, requiring electricity only to charge it before opening.  The system works great, gives a modern feel to the business, and is extremely energy efficient.  Two lit display cases are both lit by LEDs, and are unplugged when the store is closed, reducing off-hours electricity use to only the outdoor motion light, the ceiling fan, set on low to equalize temperature in the building, and air conditioning when required.

Heat for the building is currently provided by a Monitor (propane) heater which came with the building.  It was inspected and set up for our use by White Mountain Oil and Propane of North Conway, NH.  It is an off-grid model, requiring no electricity.  With this neat design, the pilot light generates enough power for the thermostat, which we set on 60F during off hours and raise to 70F while the store is open.  Due to the size and design of the building, it heats quickly and holds heat well, allowing us to turn up the thermostat only minutes before opening, even in mid-winter.  Despite the relative efficiency of the current system, we plan to replace it with a Mitsubishi heat pump in 2017 to negate our need for any fossil fuels at the site.  The heat pump is expected to be powered fully by the existing solar panels on the owner’s home, since the store was set up to run from the same electric account.

The interior of the building utilizes the original tongue-and-groove pine from 1990.  We were grateful that it didn’t need to be replaced, as it is visually pleasing and works well with the horse-themed products sold there.


Water-Related Systems (1 point)

The building currently has no water systems in place.  There is a plan to install a small bathroom onto the rear of the building which will utilize a composting toilet.  At that point, water may be supplied from the owner’s home in gallon jugs for hand-washing.  The gray water created will be held in a five-gallon pail and used to water plants on the property.


Energy And Atmosphere

Current Facilities Requirements and Operations Maintenance Plan:

Triple Mountain is open to customers every Saturday (only) from 10am to 3pm.  During this time, customers may view, purchase, and pick up orders in-store.  During that 5-hour window weekly, the store is occupied by the owner and up to ten customers.  Interior lights, lighted displays (and in summer, an AC unit as needed) will be in use.  In cooler seasons, the Monitor heat system will be turned up to 70F during open hours.  In the summer, air conditioning is set to 73F.

Approximately 15 minutes prior to opening, the main sales floor interior lights are turned on, lighted displays lit, and credit card reader charged.  About 10 minutes before opening, the Monitor heater (or AC) is adjusted and the second sales floor room lighting is turned on.  At opening, the credit card reader is unplugged and will work wirelessly for the duration.  At close, the process is reversed (excluding charging the card reader).

During the rest of the week, when the store is closed to customers, it is being used as a staging point for online orders.  Mainly this consists of retrieving items from store displays which will be packed for shipping.  This requires interior lights to be turned on for short periods.  Lighted displays will remain unplugged and the Monitor heat system will remain set at its off-hours temperature of 60F.  (The 60F setting insures safety of temperature-sensitive products.)  The only electrical items left in use are the exterior motion-sensor LED light, the ceiling fan set to low, and in summer, an AC unit set to 75F to protect product.

Preventative maintenance consists of a yearly inspection by White Mountain Oil and Propane on the Monitor heater and propane tank.  A visual inspection of the building interior and exterior will be conducted monthly by the owner to watch for and correct any changes to the building.

EA Prerequisite:  Minimum Energy Performance

We comply  with the ANSI/ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1–2010 by leaving lights off in the storage room at least 95% of the time, and are replacing sixteen 50W Halogen bulbs in sales floor lighting fixtures with Energy Star LED bulbs in spring and summer of 2016.  Since lighting with the current halogen bulbs represents the largest electrical load in the building, this change will produce significant percentage-based reduction in electrical usage.  All other lighting, both interior and exterior, is already LED.


Optimize Energy Performance (estimated at 13 points)

While our building footprint, design, and usage times indicate easy compliance with this credit option, as a small business, we lack the ability to directly measure KBtu per square foot-year.  The store was designed to be attached to the owner’s residential electric account in order to take advantage of the solar power being generated at her home.  It therefore lacks an independent electric meter.  However, it’s extremely limited “open” time insures that it uses very little of the power generated. 

 In order to reduce that usage further, as stated above, Halogen sales-floor lighting will be replaced with LEDs, resulting in at least a 10% rise in efficiency, probably significantly more.  We therefore conservatively estimate LEED points for this section at 13.


Renewable Energy Production (3 points)

The store is attached to the owner’s residential electric account, which allows it to utilize solar power generated at the owner’s home.  Two additional solar panels above the estimate number required to fully power the home were installed, and are expected to provide 100% of the required electricity for the store.


Materials And Resources

MR Prerequisite: Storage & Collection of Recyclables

Our recyclable waste stream consists of corrugated cardboard shipping boxes, mixed paper, bubble wrap, and foam packing peanuts.  Cardboard boxes suitable for re-use are saved and stored in our shipping office.  Unusable cardboard is collected inside an empty cardboard box and taken to the local transfer station for recycling.  Paper is collected in used paper shopping bags and also transported to the local transfer station for recycling.  Bubble wrap and foam packing peanuts are reused in our shipping office for packing online orders.

MR Prerequisite:  Construction and Demolition Waste Management Planning

The majority of materials generated by the building renovation included wood, plywood, sheet metal (roofing) and storm door, cast iron (wood stove) and glass.  Wood and plywood debris were broken down, nails removed, and then burned as fuel in the owners' outdoor wood furnace, providing heat for their home.  Metal and glass were separated and sent to the transfer station for recycling.  The cast iron wood stove was taken to the transfer station’s Re-Use area to become available for re-use.  Smaller amounts of dirty fiberglass insulation and plastic sheeting were unable to be recycled and had to be disposed of at the transfer station.  The amount of material recycled was estimated at 85% of the waste stream by weight.

Although not included in the calculations, we feel it appropriate to add that trees removed from the site were sawn into lumber for use in the project when possible.  Unusable wood was cut up to become firewood for the owners' home, with limbs and brush chipped on-site and returned to the woods as nutrients for the forest.

Long-Term Credit (1 point)

With completion of this renovation in December, 2015, we are committed to continue utilizing this building as our retail space for at least ten years.

Interiors Life-Cycle Impact Reduction:  

Options 1 & 2 (re-use of existing materials and fixtures) = 3 points total

We were able to re-use some electrical boxes from the electrician’s previous jobs, continue to use the original tongue-and-groove interior paneling, and source four salvaged display units from Hannaford Bros. Co. for use in the store.  These make up 65% of the displays in-store.  The remaining displays are salvaged peg-board mounted to the walls with salvaged 2x2 blocks, and long pine shelves, milled ourselves on-site from trees that had to be removed for the project.  A table in the storage room was salvaged from another business.  The register stand is an oak desk that once belonged to the owner’s grandfather.  The only shelving parts purchased for the store are the adjustable wall brackets for the pine shelves, and two display units (one floor display and one tabletop) that came with our initial orders of product.  Thus, the total of re-used / salvaged interior items is approximately 92%.

Option 3 (versatility in design): (ID 1 Point)

100% of the interior walls, as well as the floor of the loft are removable, allowing the space to be completely opened up into one large room if desired.

Construction and Demolition Waste Management (2 points)

(Path 2)  As detailed above under the MR Prerequisite, 85% of the construction waste generated at the site was re-used or recycled, including wood, sheet metal, glass, and a cast iron wood stove.


Indoor Environmental Quality

EQ Prerequisite:  Minimum Indoor Air Quality Performance

Natural Ventilation is via two East-West facing windows in the 350 sq. foot sales area, and one North-facing egress-sized window in each of the 90 sq. foot back rooms (which are open to the larger sales floor – no doors).  The enclosed porch is naturally ventilated with the screen door on the front (only), and with one window each on the East and West sides.  We don’t have the ability to monitor airflow, but it is more than sufficient for the space and occupancy. 

EQ Prerequisite:  Environmental Tobacco Smoke Control

No smoking is allowed on the property, either inside or outside the store.

Enhanced Indoor Air Quality Strategies (1 point)

Our entryway is a three stair climb to an exterior landing, followed by a 6’ deep enclosed porch before entering the sales floor.  There is a deeply textured rubber mat at the foot of the stairs to remove as much dirt as possible prior to entering the building.  The enclosed porch is closed by a screen door that allows air flow into the porch area to dissipate any dust or odors that get into the entryway, and is floored with a roll-out carpet to further prevent debris from entering the building.  Both mats are swept weekly and rugs are vacuumed monthly or less (as needed).

While we can’t accurately measure the natural ventilation provided by the windows, the almost steady breeze here in the mountains and our ability to open and close the windows to meet our comfort is sufficient to provide more than adequate indoor air quality.


Low-Emitting Materials (2 points)

Using Option 2 (Budget Method), rated a total of 81% as detailed below:

Interior paints and coatings:  None have been applied to the walls or ceiling.  All are natural, raw pine paneling. (100%)

Interior Adhesives: TEC Floor Adhesive and GE Silicone, both VOC Free. (100%)

Flooring:  New (2015) Berber rug from Lowe’s, VOC free.  Back rooms are linoleum – pre-existing so of unknown make-up.  Front porch is raw pine boards.  (Rated at 65% compliant.)

Ceilings, Walls, Thermal, and Acoustic Insulation:  Walls and ceiling interiors are raw, aged pine.  Structure is 2x4 spruce.  Insulation is fiberglass. (Rated at 50% compliant, since the insulation is an unknown)

Furniture:  Displays are powder-coated metal, all made within the last three years, sent as samples to Hannaford Bros. Co.  Shelving is raw pine, sourced and milled on-site, register stand and chair are a repurposed oak desk and chair.  The only unknown is the plastic folding table in the storage room.  (Rated at 90%)

Construction Indoor Air Quality Management Plan (1 point)

During renovation, windows were left open for natural ventilation.  Insulation was stored inside until needed, away from moisture.  All contractors and site workers were non-smokers or smoked only inside their vehicles at least 25' from the building.  These were instructed to remain outdoors for at least 5 minutes after smoking before entering the building to allow third-hand smoke to dissipate.

Thermal Comfort (estimated 1 point)

Testing unavailable to us, but temperature for the building is controlled on the sales floor and set at 70F during operating hours.  Because of the size of the building, temperature is easy to maintain in all areas, and easy to adjust if needed.  A ceiling fan helps equalize temperature throughout the building.  A thermometer positioned in the back sales room, furthest from the heat source, is verified within 3 degrees of 70F during hours of operation.

Interior Lighting (1 point)

Using Retail CI, there are individual lighting controls for each room and the enclosed porch.  In sales areas, lighted LED displays can be individually turned on or off to increase or reduce light levels  in the room.

Quality Views (1 point)

Windows in the sales floor face managed forest to the East, a lawn, forest, road, and pond to the West, and the road, pond, and mountains beyond to the South (through the enclosed porch windows).  The back rooms, including Storage, have North-facing windows that have views of the forest partially blocked by the hillside behind the building.

Regional Priorities (2 points)

Thermal Comfort 1 point, Interiors Life-Cycle impact Reduction 1 point


If you read through this whole thing, bravo!  You must truly care about the environment.