Heroes 2006: Stan Cole | Bruce Poe 

Idaho's first green construction crew

The story might reasonably go like this: developer buys old warehouse, wanting to make a profit. Developer and architect hold noses as they walk about old warehouse, and raze it to the dirt. New, sterile building goes up, tenants march in, and life goes on, uninterrupted.

Fortunately, Boise's Stan Cole and Bruce Poe were the ones doing the snooping through the 1970s-era warehouse on Front Street near 5th Street, back in 2003. The dingy old place cannot have been inspirational.

"It had a couple of large overhead doors, and that was it," Cole said.

Add to that an office-space market in Boise that was "up and down," as Cole puts it. "Lots of vacancies," he says. But the achitects, who had worked with Ada County to get their new courthouse to adhere to United States Green Building Council environmental efficiency guidelines, had an idea. Keep the building. Make it better.

"It was pretty much a no-brainer, because of the cost," Cole said.

Start with the developer, Erik Oaas, who admits he had to be "dragged kicking and screaming into this."

Note to boring office-building-dwellers: If you aren't inspired by your surroundings, don't tour the re-visioned warehouse. You will be ruined.

Where once stood a drab warehouse now rests Idaho's first building certified by the USGBC under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green building rating system. What that means to the visitor is a building without cramped ceilings, tight walls or bright white lights. Ceilings leap toward the roof. Windows dot all available wall space, creating light without a switch. You can still see old exposed timbers, and the floor is the same concrete floor, but cleaned and polished to a modern sheen. Oh, and those windows? They actually operate. You can open them to let cool air in.

Whether because they wanted to prove something or wanted in on their own creation, Cole and Poe moved their firm into the building. So did Oaas. They were followed shortly by Windermere Real Estate. Other firms followed, and interest has been steady. One walk around the airy, quirky space tells how newfangled green building concepts make good business sense.

"It allows us to keep our buildings full," Oaas said. "Tenants love the building. They want to be here."

--SA

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