Winter at Green & Main

Chaden Halfhill

Chaden Halfhill on the first floor during construction.

On Site in December

Frost has settled into the soil at the Green & Main pilot project and layered clothing has become the norm on site. Cold weather slows everything when it arrives, even our perceptions of time. Transitioning from fall, our project processes shift and schedules expand as the conventions of construction industry adjust to the freezing temperatures that turn work trucks into rolling coolers.

The impact is seen in so many ways: battery operated tools are removed daily, liquids no longer remain in vehicles over night and time is regularly allocated to warm up engines and scrape windows. Little can be taken for granted. The brunt of winter is felt from head to toe when the winds blow from the northwest, and the subtle influence of sunshine, wind breaks and overnight lows are reflected in ever-changing schedules and routines, especially for those projects or tasks that remain on the exterior of the building. At least measurable snow has been minimal thus far, allowing us ample access to staging areas, which has proved helpful.

I-Jobs sign that show that program's contribution to our project.

I-Jobs sign that shows that program's contribution to our project.

Grant Completion and Year End Wrap-Up

The inevitable approach of the calendar’s fiscal end and year-end business planning creates another transition that limits production as administrative attention is directed towards financial matters. This annual responsibility was more intense this year due to the push to complete the landscape, allowing Indigo Dawn to complete major work on grant-supported tasks.

Paired with this completion of tasks, compliance and reporting requirements stretched staff to compile and aggregate data that highlights our applied best practices, educational efforts and communications, as well as financial budgeting and allocation of funds. Our compliance and communication team fulfilled all these obligations and provided data to initiatives and agencies that promote water conservation and stewardship. The benefit of all this hard work will be evident in the spring, as the native plants return from their dormancy and sprouts pepper the amended soils with aspiration.

Sustainable SITES landscaping initiative, the first in Iowa.

Sustainable SITES landscaping initiative, the first in Iowa.

As internal efforts at Indigo Dawn focused on closing out grant responsibilities for site development, attention on site was narrowed in order to wrap up the exterior enclosure for the addition. We worked to protect the building from winter weather and prepare staff to switch focus, redirecting the scope from exterior work and stormwater management practices to heightened attention on energy efficiency efforts. In particular, interior efforts will focus on the installation of the utility systems and integrating myriad details that support the insulation’s installation and building’s wall assemblies.

Construction and Masonry

Aside from finalizing the building enclosure, the general contractor, Silent Rivers, also assisted with the city’s replacement of the 19th Street sewer, which had collapsed and was discovered by the team in early spring when Pary Plumbing Corporation attempted to connect a new sewer drain from the city sewer to the building. The building was without sewer service for nearly nine months and everyone associated with this project shared an eagerness to tie back into the municipal system, providing drainage capacity within the building for all tradesmen working on its restoration.

Masonry work on the addition.

Masonry work on the addition.

Within the plastic and scaffolding enclosures that have encapsulated the addition’s sheer walls for the past 4 weeks, masons from Atlas Masonry quietly installed the exterior 6” veneer cladding that protects the 2” Dow extruded polystyrene insulation that wraps the addition.

What appears to be a simple masonry cladding system has many critical details that support the long-term performance of the addition.  Masonry is a reservoir cladding, and as a result, precautions are taken to ensure moisture behind and within the block or behind the veneer is properly managed through the use of flashing and wick ropes. These practices and their proper application allow moisture to exit the wall assembly, protecting the interior structure.

Because protecting against bulk water intrusion is first priority for any wall system, much attention has been paid to details throughout the addition, setting tone for the various strategies to insulate and manage moisture within the existing building’s retrofit. From protecting the foundation from ground water to managing water intrusion during summer rains, there have been so many decisions that have required thoughtful consideration and a vast amount of discussion to reach each solution.

A rendering of the completed building, facing north.

A rendering of the completed building, facing north.

With the masonry walls recently completed, final installation of siding on the western face of the addition has begun. Starting from the insulation plane, we have applied several layers to the wall systems, starting with the water barrier membrane and integrating flashing details for the first group of Pella triple pane windows scheduled. Three quarter inch treated battens have been attached on top of the membrane, preparing the wall for a rain screen made of James Hardie cement lap siding, thus providing an effective drainage plane for the wall system. Two scuppers will be installed through this wall in order to shed water from the lower roof. Resolution of these understated water conduits will allow for the completion of the upcoming roof by Academy Roofing and provide weather security for the new addition, in the event we get a deep snow.

Fortunately, this week’s forecast remains 1 inch or less.


–Chaden Halfhill is an entrepreneur and visionary of the Green & Main Initiative.



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