Thinking Spring 2012 as the Green & Main Landscaping is Installed

If you’ve ever planted a garden, or even one pumpkin seed, you know the excitement of seeing those first sprouts emerge. So imagine thousands of plants and flowers surfacing, expertly orchestrated to grow and bloom spring through fall to bring function and beauty to the Green & Main site. The Green & Main Pilot Project landscaping was installed this past October, so you can count on a burst of fresh greenery and flowers to greet spring.

Winter at Green & Main

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.

Recent Construction: Site Development and Seasonal Preparation

October is typically a month of extremes, when temperatures and temperaments often span the whole spectrum. Anticipation of the first freeze, the first measurable snowfall and bitter northern rains can easily dampen schedules and moods. We were blessed, however, with incredible weather, and my gratitude extends to the many people who stretched themselves to meet the pilot project deadlines.

Soil Management and Erosion Control at Green & Main

Teeming with life-giving organisms that transform inorganic minerals in the ground into food for flora, soil is a vibrant and diverse ecosystem. It is a fundamental building block of life. When embarking on any building or renovation project, managing soils and the handling of erosion control may be one of the first thoughts to occur. […]

What is LEED Certification and What Does it Mean to Green & Main?

What is LEED? LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a multi-tiered voluntary rating system for the construction, renovation and/or rehabilitation of buildings. Administered by the USGBC (United States Green Building Council), LEED classification reflects the spectrum of the environmental performance of a building. The Council is comprised of engineers, architects, designers and building officials, who, through committee and in adherence to USGBC policy and procedure, develop and guide the rating systems.

Windows: Opening a New Perspective on Historic Renovation

Renovating a historic 1930’s brick building presents many challenges. Renovating that same building to exceptionally high energy standards adds further layers of complexity to the project. Fortunately, for a vacant 5,000-square foot brick storefront in Des Moines’ Sherman Hill neighborhood, developer Chaden Halfhill has not shied away from these challenges.

Winterizing Green & Main: A Survey of What’s Been Happening on Site

The construction crew at the Green & Main site enjoyed an extended summer, with temperatures in early October ranging into the 80’s with clear skies. This was an unexpected and much appreciated delay to our typical Iowa autumn. Soon it will be time to batten down the hatches and get ready for sub-zero temperatures when the crew will focus on the interior of the building.

Here’s what they’ve been up to…

Geothermal: Harnessing the Earth’s Energy

Geothermal Energy is heat (thermal) that comes from the earth (geo). The layers of the earth are heated in different gradients, originating from the 4,000-mile deep core, which has a temperature similar to that of the sun of around 9,000 degrees Fahrenheit (F). The heat gradually lessens as it reaches the surface of the earth, where the temperature of the top soil more accurately represents the temperature of the atmosphere. Just ten feet below the surface of the ground, the temperature of the earth maintains a constant temperature of 50-60 degrees F in all seasons. Geothermal heat pumps make use of the earth’s constant temperature as a natural source for heating and cooling.

Renovation Weekend: Surprises at the Job Site!

Are you interested in developing, designing or rehabilitating older buildings? Have you ever wanted to be an observer inside a construction project? Do you just enjoy a good story and making new friends? Well, clear your calendars because there are exciting renovation events happening this weekend in Sherman Hill.

Residential Stormwater Management Tips

Capture water from a downspout in a rain barrel or cistern. Rain barrels are a cost-effective way to reduce stormwater runoff near its source and to catch the “first flush” of stormwater from your roof. Rain barrels also provide a source of irrigation water for use in gardening or lawn maintenance.

Stormwater Management: Green & Main Designs to Lead the Way

One of the most prevalent topics during the construction of the Green & Main Pilot Project has been our plans for stormwater management. What will be most effective in dealing with rain water and snowmelt (sometimes simultaneously) at the site? How will we design the vegetative roof, the landscaping and paving materials in order to manage the amount of stormwater run-off?

Recent Construction: Site Development and Stormwater Management

In the heat of August on the construction site, our attention turned to cold temperatures.

With temperatures pushing three digits, keeping the soils dry and dusty, we felt mounting pressure from pending grant deadlines and the looming shifts in weather patterns – yes, I am talking about evening temperatures that drop below 45 degrees at night and constant concern about the early freeze that limits fall planting.

Profiles in Green: Jason Anderson and the Building of Green & Main

If you want to meet the man behind all that’s happening at the Green & Main project site, you’ll have to first wait for him to find a good pausing point from whatever project is currently tying up his hands. You must be patient as you get interrupted for a multitude of construction questions, and then make sure that you’re able to squeeze in a time between the meetings he holds with everyone involved in the project.

Iowa’s First Cohousing Development: Putting the Wheels into Motion

This article is a follow-up to “Iowans and Cohousing: A Look into the Growing U.S. Interest in Cohousing and How Iowans are Responding” published in the July 2011 e-newsletter and on the Green & Main website. In Part II, read about a presentation given in Des Moines by architect, author and cohousing leader Charles Durrett and learn more about Turtle Farm Cohousing Community and those who support this initiative.

July Construction: Birthing a Vision of the Future, Building a Birth Center

A single wall can make a statement – a strong statement!

Yes, a single wall can outline the intent of a whole building. The plane of this wall can define an entire room – its surface and the raw material capturing the emotion of atmosphere and anticipation. This statement is especially true during construction, when architectural form comes to life in anticipation of the future, foreshadowing the beauty of the space and the celebration of its use.

Construction Discoveries and Challenges during June

It just could not stop raining in June. We’re not talking the standard ½-inch flush that cleans city streets while households sleep, leaving the air smelling fresh in the morning. No, we’re boasting serious downpours that dump upwards of five inches of rain in twenty-four hour cycles and repeatedly interrupt our planned work days, while also putting officials and drivers on the alert for early morning street closings.

Iowans and Cohousing: A Look into the Growing U.S. Interest in Cohousing and How Iowans are Responding

“Traditional forms of housing no longer address the needs of many people. Dramatic demographic and economic changes are taking place in our society and most of us feel the effects of these trends in our own lives. Things that people once took for granted – family, community, a sense of belonging – must now be actively sought out. Many people are mis-housed, ill-housed or unhoused because of the lack of appropriate options.”

Construction Update: Pouring the New Basement Floor

Monday, while the heat index was slated to reach 114 degrees, the concrete basement in the Green & Main building at 800 19th Street was poured by Rick Hogan Construction. The construction team brought in the concrete boom truck and positioned it to allow best access to the basement.

Green & Main Shows Off ‘New’ Maple Flooring… and Gives Salvaged Gym Floor a New Home

The old school in Cambria, Iowa was in need of a new gym floor at the same time Green & Main was looking for salvaged maple flooring. It was a match. Repurposing the old flooring for the Green & Main first floor was a perfect fit for not only aesthetic needs but for our sustainability goals as well.

Des Moines, We Sustainably Knew Ye: Main Streets Conference Comes to Iowa

Des Moines was privileged to host The National Main Streets Conference last week where 1,300 people convened over a four-day period. Events around Des Moines ranged from tours to evening outings. Green & Main was part of the on-site tours for historical and re-purposed buildings. Read how the Main Street Four Point Approach has benefited 45 Iowa communities.

Historic Preservation and Green & Main

Sustainability has become a core component of modern-day historic preservation activism. Indeed, we now recognize that the two are integrally related: there is no building greener than the one not built. By finding ways to creatively reuse and adapt existing structures to modern-day activities, we not only “save” our history, but also reduce the need for new construction.

Steel Installation: Anticipating Progress

Nothing is more exhilarating than stepping into the unknown, marching forward with something you have never done before. On January 4th, 2011, we did just that!

Permitting, LEED and Specs

Green & Main has “broken ground” in both the physical sense and the conceptual. The Green & Main team is working diligently to integrate sustainable building practices, environmental air quality considerations and recycling strategies into the everyday work pattern. These ideas and practices are most often seen on larger commercial construction projects, but rarely on […]

Site Source Separation

Indigo Dawn is partnering with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (Iowa DNR) through their Solid Waste Alternatives Program (SWAP) and also Metro Waste Authority’s (MWA) Growing Green Communities, a 501(c)3 organization, to properly sort and manage construction waste.

New Website for Green & Main

While 800 19th Street is starting its face lift, so is another aspect of the Green & Main Pilot Project. The Green & Main website,, received an extreme overhaul in both content and graphics in the fall of 2010.