BriarPatch Co-op is Nevada County’s first commercial building certified by the US Green Building Council’s LEED®: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program. The building industry is a major consumer and polluter of the environment, and buildings use one third of our total energy and two thirds of our electricity. The purpose of the LEED® program is to promote sustainable, “green” building design, and ecological approaches to site planning and land development.

Building Features

Sustainable Aspects of the Site

  • The building location is an “infill” site within Grass Valley, with utilities already developed.
  • A bus stop at the project site reduces traffic.
  • Bike racks are provided to encourage non-vehicle transportation.
  • Stormwater management is onsite: a retention pond prevents erosion in the downstream drainages.
  • Directional lights and light shields are used to eliminate light pollution to the night sky.

Water Efficiency

  • Native plant landscaping will require 50% less watering than typical landscaping.
  • Electronic sensor faucets reduce water consumption in the market.

Energy and Atmosphere

  • Natural light from windows and skylights.
  • High efficiency lighting fixtures and use of light surfaces for reflectivity
  • High levels of insulation
  • High efficiency space heating and cooling system that recovers excess heat from the food freezer and refrigeration cases
  • Photovoltaic panels for electrical generation
  • Solar energy for hot water distribution
  • Timers and sensors reduce electrical use during daytime hours

Materials and Resources

  • Construction waste – 75% was diverted to recycling.
  • Recycled content materials – a total of 10% of materials in building are composed of “post-consumer” recycled content: Marmoleum® flooring and countertops, Lees Carpet minimum 20% post-consumer recycled content backing, IceStone™ recycled/reconstituted glass product countertops, Medite II 100% pre-consumer recycled wood fiber countertops
  • Local and regional materials – 50%: Medite® II from Oregon
  • Renewable materials, 5% minimum: sustainably harvested wood cabinetry, Medite® II, 100% pre-consumer recycled wood fiber countertops, Lees Carpet backing
  • Sustainable wood-based materials certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), 50%: FSC certified wood cabinetry

Indoor Environmental Quality

  • Low-emitting finish materials: paints, carpet, adhesives, and sealants
  • Monitoring systems for heating, ventilating, air conditioning (HVAC) system
  • “Daylighting” or using natural light to reduce electric lighting (see

Innovation and Building Design

  • Educational displays
  • Recycling program

The Glass Plaque

As part of LEED® certification, BriarPatch received a glass plaque. The LEED® plaques are made of recycled content glass. The US Green Building Council strives to lessen the impacts of plaque fabrication by choosing a material, fabrication process, and delivery method that have a small environmental footprint.

Fabrication: The plaques are cut, then sandblasted, and not etched. This process is less energy intensive than cast metal, and sandblasting does not involve the use of toxic chemicals, which are part of the etching process.

Green Features Articles

The series of articles below (PDFs) explores some of the “green,” or sustainable building features incorporated in the BriarPatch Co-op building.