By Andrew D. Brosig
Killeen Daily Herald
As energy costs skyrocket, green or energy-efficient construction is becoming a watchword of the industry.
Research specialists at SBI Energy in Rockville, Md., project growth from the current 7 percent of the building renovation market to an estimated 13 percent market share by 2015. New York City based McGraw-Hill, through its McGraw-Hill Construction publications, puts the growth estimates at closer to 30 percent.
But one Central Texas entrepreneur with ties to the Killeen community thinks that isn't soon enough. Chris Doose, a partner in the redesigned Texas Star Plaza on East Rancier Avenue, is already bringing green construction practices to the area.
Originally built about 1968 by longtime Killeen physician R.J. Whitten to house his medical practice, the facility had been expanded several times to include space for offices or retail businesses and, later, a restaurant. The plaza was sold when Whitten retired in about 2003, Doose said.
By the time Doose came on the scene, though, the property had fallen into disrepair and was in foreclosure. But where others only saw a 16,630-square-foot money pit, Doose saw a diamond in the rough.
"Our vision is for this to become the premier north Killeen office and retail park," he said. "There are a lot of things going on in this area I really like."
Texas Star Plaza is located just east of the intersection of Rancier and W.S. Young Drive, just outside the city's planned revitalization zones, Doose said. The potential is there and he wanted to do it right.
The first thing Doose did when he took over the property was gut the interior to bare stud walls and beyond. His next endeavour was finishing one of the potentially 10 suites in the facility to a model and leasing office, to showcase his plans for the park.
Energy-efficient amenities include spray-foam insulation, a highly effective method of sealing and insulating a building, along with high-efficency heating and cooling systems and low-energy lighting fixtures. The bulk of the facility remains unfinished right now, which will allow potential tenants to "build-to-suit" specific needs, Doose said.
"The old doctor's office could still be a medical facility or clinic," he said. "We're just now ready for occupancy, but we're not so done it could still be remodeled to suit a customer's needs."
Doose envisions a mix of professional offices - lawyers and insurance agencies, for example - and smaller, speciality retail outlets. He wants to stay away from the traditional "strip-mall" scenario which, in some instances, suffer under the pall of negative stereotypes.
"This is a strong location, near one of the big Killeen intersections," Doose said. "In a business scenario, to drive business, you have to have marketing. The best way to do that is to have a store front. We've already had feelers. There's been strong feedback from government contractors."
Green's the word
Whether it's termed green, energy-efficient or sustainable, definitions vary as to exactly what's being talked about. In essence, the ideas behind the labels can mean anything from replacing windows to prevent loss of heat when it's cold and the reverse, loss of cool air when it's hot, to buildings that have minimum impact on the environment while making the best use of resources.
Whatever you call it, Texas Star Plaza is not the only green project currently under way in the community, said John Crutchfield, president of the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce. But it is one of the few.
The Texas A&M University Central Texas campus will be built using energy-efficient practices, he said. The benefits of "going green" are many.
"From a business standpoint, the advantage to going green is energy savings," Crutchfield said. "The major factor is it lowers the cost of heating and cooling the facility, which goes to the bottom line."
This is Doose's first business venture in Killeen. But his family is no stranger to the local business community, through his grandmother and uncle, Betty and Craig Langford, owners of American Abstract and Title Company, he said. American Abstract has been around since 1975, according to its website. Doose and his partners, all members of his family, are in for the long haul too, he said.
"When we made this investment, it's for a long-term deal," Doose said. "Energy efficiency is a big deal in this country. I had a lot of people tell me, 'You can't do it. People won't value it.'
"But, as we expand our knowledge as a society, people will begin to look at things like this as an overall solution to bigger problems. Energy efficiency, green building, will help reduce our dependence on foreign oil, which benefits the country and supports our troops."
Contact Andrew D. Brosig at email@example.com or (254) 501-7469.
For more information on Texas Star Plaza, contact Chris Doose, operations director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (512) 944-4820.
For more information on green, energy-efficient construction and remodeling, contact a local builder or visit SBI Energy at www.sbireports.com, McGraw-Hill Construction at continuingeducation.constructions.com, or www.greenbuilding.com.