Walkers Work Out Sustainable Clubhaus Center

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Stuart and Missi Walker plan for their year-old fitness center to be the first LEED-certified health club in the country. The two are seeking a Silver certification, which Stuart Walker hopes to have wrapped up in early 2011.

There was no single impetus for going green. Walker said he and his wife feel like they’ve got a personal responsibility to take it easy on the environment, but he also recognized the marketability and potential long-term cost-savings a sustainable-focused fitness center would bring.

Located in a building that was constructed in 1952, Clubhaus qualified as commissioned space because renovations of the 10,500-SF area were extensive.

Walker recycled about 60 percent of the lumber used in the club’s framing from the existing ceiling, and 72 percent of construction waste was recycled or donated, keeping it out of a landfill. More than 60 percent of the interior finishes contain recycled elements. A gray water system filters used shower water for the toilets, which saves about 30 percent of usage and cost of a  typical same-sized fitness center.

Going the extra mile on sustainable products only cost about 2 to 3 percent more than conventional construction, Walker said. The real cost was in some extra time. He removed nails from much of the lumber that was recycled during the construction phase. 

Soaps, detergents and cleaning agents are Green Seal-certified and biodegradable. Marketing materials are printed with soy-based ink on 100-percent recycled paper and smoothies are served in corn-based cups.

Walker said about 50 percent of his full- and part-time employees walk to work and he estimates about 20 percent of his clients do as well.

 “I’ve seen a lot of utilities bills going out over the years,” said Walker, who has many years of experience in the industry. “Air conditioning, gas and water will eat you alive.”

His monthly utilities bills range between $1,100 to $1,500 and he keeps the center at a constant 71 degrees for client comfort.

“I think we have a good position of doing our cost of business,” he said.