MUSCATINE — Renovating a building with the goal of making it one of the “greenest buildings in the state” will add to the expense, but for the Stanley Center for Peace as Security it was a no-brainer to proceed in that manner.
Negotiations with the city of Muscatine are wrapping up for Stanley to take possession of the former Musser Library building at 304 Iowa Ave. The final reading of an ordinance to rezone the 17,080-square-foot building to central commercial is on its final reading during Thursday’s city council meeting, as is the final authorization of the sale. The council has already agreed to sell the building to Stanley at a purchase price of $120,000. During discussions, center officials said its vision for the project was to follow the Living Building Challenge guidelines.
“The cost of the Living Building concept certainly adds to the price tag of the renovation, but those costs pale in comparison to the cost of a typical building on the environment,” Mark Seaman, communications director at the Stanley Center, said. “And, while the investment is substantial, a return on that investment will come from a building that provides all of its own energy through solar panels, water through rainwater capture systems, food through gardens and health benefits for our planet, our people and our neighbors.”
The center expects to spend about $6 million on the renovation of the building into its new permanent headquarters. It currently operates out of leased space in the Laurel building in downtown Muscatine.
Last summer, the center’s board determined the former library would make an ideal location.
“We knew we wanted a space that is rooted in our community, designed to be environmentally friendly and as ecologically sustainable as possible,” Seaman said. “Alongside Neumann Monson Architects, we looked at several potential spaces to accommodate those needs in Muscatine. After reviewing a number of options — including a new building and existing structures —we agreed the former Musser Library is the ideal space for our future home. Its location in downtown Muscatine, historical connection to education and learning, size and cost, and potential for the existing structure to be renovated and rehabilitated were strong factors in the selection.”
At the same time, the goal was set to create Iowa’s first certified Living Building. Living Building certification is the world’s most rigorous performance standard for buildings. A Living Building must connect occupants to light, air, food, nature and community, be self-sufficient and remain within the resource limits of the site. Seaman said the Living Building Challenge spoke to the center because of its connection to the center’s vision, mission and core values.
Seaman explained that The Living Building Challenge required that the building generate all its own energy and create a positive impact on the human and natural systems it interacts with. Only one renovated building in the world has achieved the certification.
The center has only begun to discuss ideas on how the building will be renovated, so drawings of a completed building won’t be available until later this year. Construction is expected to begin next spring. Anyone wishing to see the progress of the project or learn more about Living Buildings can go to stanleycenter.org/livingbuilding.