The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

November 1, 2008

Group wants to make state’s downtown buildings ‘green’

OAK HILL — Brandon Holmes’ two-fold goal is to bring back both a sense of community and environmental awareness — and Oak Hill is his chosen location to begin that effort.

Less than two years ago, Holmes and a pair of business partners formed Lights On West Virginia, a real estate holding company with a vision toward rehabilitating, renovating and restoring historic downtowns in the Mountain State using completely “green” building guidelines. Their first endeavor is now under way at 137 1/2 Main St.

“One of our underlying premises is that an existing building is the greenest building because it already exists,” Holmes explained.

“It has embodied energy. Renovating a structure, versus breaking ground and raising a new building, is one of the greenest practices you can apply. We’re focusing our efforts on Oak Hill right now,” he said, adding the group hopes to expand to other areas in the near future.

Lights On West Virginia’s founders practice what they preach — their offices are located in the 10,000-square-foot building they are now renovating. They have finished the second floor, he noted, and are now working on the first floor. During the restoration of this building, Holmes stated, the group recycled more than 2,000 pounds of metal.

“We’ve replaced the roof with a white-membrane roof that reflects heat. It’s cool to stand on in hot summer months. We replaced 37 windows with energy-efficient windows. It’s day lit with sunroofs, and every office has a window,” Holmes said.

The lights, along with the heating and air-conditioning, are also energy efficient, he observed, and the ceiling tiles are 85 percent recycled material. The building is poised to become the state’s first-ever privately owned structure to be LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) by the U.S. Green Building Council.

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