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Martial-art school in Spotsylvania being built with green methods and materials
Insulated concrete form walls were built by Quinn Construc-tion of Glen Burnie, Md. Windows are key to the design.
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BY RICHARD AMRHINE
At a construction site on Hickory Ridge Road in Spotsylvania County, the emphasis is on harmony. The new building going up there, called a dojo, is for the study of aikido, where students will learn the Japanese martial art based on the individual living in harmony with his or her surroundings.
But that's only the half of it. The entire project, from the land on which it sits to the roof that will top it off, is designed to blend with nature and have minimal environmental impact.
The project is moving toward LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) accreditation through its use of green construction techniques. The accreditation identifies it as a healthy place to be, and capable of energy savings that will help defray the initial costs over time.
It is a harmonious combination, and one that organizer and chief instructor Aviv Goldsmith hopes will set a green example and boost his student body as well. He currently operates a studio elsewhere in Spotsylvania.
"It all starts with the site," said Goldsmith. He began work on it four years ago, calling on the Williamsburg Environmental Group, which fashioned an enviro-friendly site. It includes shallow basins that become temporary ponds to capture rainwater and let it seep into the soil, and native vegetation planted as a bio-filter for the runoff.
Goldsmith said he plans to capture remaining runoff from the building in barrels for reuse.
The effort has won an innovation award from the Environmental Protection Agency and accolades from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
A large portion of the 20-acre site will be mowed just twice a year--but never between April and October--to allow the high grass to hold the soil and absorb water while creating wildlife habitat.
For the studio building itself, Goldsmith knew what he wanted, but to execute his plan he called on architect Jeff Owens. Owens describes his central Kentucky firm as one that designs buildings that blend function, beauty and good Earth stewardship.
"We're trying to blur the lines of inside and outside space so there can be an interaction of activity for the students inside and outside the building," he said. That's accomplished by using large amounts of glass, whether as windows or sliding glass doors.