Sanaa Abourezk says some of her customers have embraced a
series of green business practices she implemented last year
at her restaurant.
Abourezk, owner of Sanaa's gourmet Mediterranean, 401 E.
Eighth St., said some customers bring their own containers
or grab a sandwich to go and ask that it only be wrapped in
She takes a similar approach with her restaurant as she
does with food - using the example of a healthy diet in the
hope of developing a strong body and preventing disease.
"If you do green, hopefully, we save our planet and have
more resources for our kids and grandkids," she said.
To receive certification from the Green Restaurant
Association last year, Abourezk said she implemented a set
of standards. Replacing Styrofoam containers was one of
"So we switched from Styrofoam to-to boxes to
biodegradable containers, which are made from corn husk,"
Other enhancements at the restaurant included recycling
as much as possible, switching to energy-saving lights,
reducing water use and using recycled-paper napkins.
Abourezk said she is certain the green trend will grow.
"Some people are hesitant because it's a little bit
expensive to switch from Styrofoam to biodegradable
containers. It's a little more expensive, but I think in the
long run, everybody will see the benefit," she said.
At Koch Hazard Architects, similar efforts to recycle and
reduce are happening in the office, but the staff also is
working with clients to design their own green buildings.
Jeff Hazard, chief executive officer and principal at Koch
Hazard, said the firm has completed about 10 green building
projects in five years.
Five Koch Hazard staff members are LEED, or Leadership in
Energy and Environmental Design, accredited, meaning they
have demonstrated their knowledge of green building
procedures. Fourteen more are studying for the exam in June.
The five primary factors of green building are
sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy efficiency, the
efficient use of materials and resources, and indoor
environmental quality. The U.S. Green Building Council
certifies LEED buildings at a base level, followed by
silver, gold and platinum.
"It's kind of a credit system," Hazard said. "There are a
total of 69 credits that are available."
Twenty-six credits are required for the base LEED
certification for new construction and major renovations,
with a minimum of 33 credits needed for silver, 39 for gold
and 52 for platinum.
Hazard said the cost of building green has decreased
substantially since LEED was initiated.
"We checked on what it cost to do the LEED work - the
sustainability-related work - on Cherapa Place," he said.
"It was around 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 percent of the total cost of
the project, so it really wasn't that much."
Koch Hazard also has served as the architect on a couple
of green projects in downtown Sioux Falls that are a
contrast between old and new: Courthouse Square and the
Museum of Visual Materials.
Courthouse Square features a geothermal HVAC system. The
Museum of Visual Materials occupies a historic building that
was built in 1887. Both buildings are tracking toward LEED
"It's becoming more and more important to our clients
that they build and occupy sustainable buildings, but it's
also clearly becoming very important to the next generations
as they come up that they be employed by employers that use
sustainable practices and live in sustainable communities,"
"There was a period, probably five years ago, when I
thought there was a chance that this could be a fad. But
within a year, it was pretty clear that this is just the way
it's going to be, and it's going to become increasingly
important as we move forward," he said.
Jason Crain, president of Construction Management
Professionals, said he recommends sustainable, design-based
projects to his clients.
"We're going to encourage you to put in geothermal, we're
going to help people analyze the decisions of upfront costs
versus long-term benefits," he said.
Crain and his business partners are also involved in
energy retrofit projects, where they go through an existing
facility, identify its energy use and determine if a
business is paying too much for energy. After an engineering
analysis, clients get an idea of ho much they'll save if
they move forward on a a project.
"You back that into a construction project, so to speak,
and you pay for the project from the energy savings," he
said. "Once you've paid off the project, you realize the
operational savings because that just goes on forever."
Crain said the benefits go beyond saving money and improving
"You're improving the condition of the space that people
are occupying, which I think is one of the things
that gets kind of overlooked in this whole green movement,"
he said. "Worker productivity and comfort increases, while
absenteeism tends to decrease."