In Green Building, Chicago MCA Goes for Gold

The Mechanical Contractors Association of Chicago headquarters will be the first LEED-rated building in Burr Ridge and one of an elite few in Chicagoland

Chicago — The Mechanical Contractors Association of Chicago is moving its headquarters this month from a downtown high-rise to a red-brick “green” building in the quiet suburb of Burr Ridge, Ill. MCA Chicago is also aiming to receive Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold status for their building, according to Dan Bulley, senior vice president of MCA Chicago and the association's resident green building expert.

“The new headquarters will be the first LEED-rated building in Burr Ridge and one of an elite few in Chicagoland,” Bulley said. Currently, only 12 LEED Gold projects in the Chicago area are certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED-rated high-performance green buildings can be rated at several levels, including Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum.

The move marks the occasion of MCA Chicago's 120th Anniversary this year, and also reflects the down-to-earth belief that the association needs to set an example for the business community.

“We promote and teach green building constantly,” said Stephen Lamb, executive vice president of MCA Chicago. “When it was time for a move, we had to practice what we preach.”

The association's new headquarters includes a state-of-art training facility, as well as a wide spectrum of green options. Work was scheduled to be completed in August. Member contractors of MCA Chicago work with the pipe-fitters and service technicians of United Association Pipe Fitters Local 597 to build powerhouses that generate electricity; install and service heating and air conditioning systems in homes and buildings; and install piping wherever it is needed, from oil refineries to food-processing plants.

“In selecting our new headquarters, two directives became clear,” said Lamb. “No. 1, it had to be a green building, and No. 2, it needed to have ample space for training, and for parking too. In the past, we've held our educational offerings at various locations throughout Chicagoland, and we needed to centralize our educational efforts. Half of the 9,000-sq.ft. building will be offices, and we will use the other half for classes.”

“The building will feature a white-reflective green roof, high-efficiency lighting, and water-conserving plumbing donated by Sloan Valve,” said Bulley. “Also, it will use closed-cell foam insulation, natural lighting, and low-emitting materials such as flooring, walls and paint.”

Bulley explained that the walls of the building have been filled with Icynene, an energy-saving foam insulation that is sprayed into place once electrical and plumbing services have been installed. The foam expands to fill all gaps in the walls, sealing the building envelope. Low-emitting materials contribute to better indoor air-quality by releasing minimal toxins over time.

“Not only will the building work in harmony with nature,” Bulley added, “but the people working and training inside will enjoy the comfort of a healthy indoor environment.”

Bulley has an engineering degree and is the executive director of the association's new Green Construction Institute, which was recently founded to further the cause of green building in the construction industry.

In addition to his duties with MCA Chicago, Bulley is secretary of the Chicago Chapter of the USGBC and a LEED Accredited Professional.

“I've always been interested in green building,” he said, “so I'm happy to be able to integrate green technology into the MCA Chicago building.”

Even after the building is occupied this month, said Bulley, “there will always be more we can do to improve its green status. It's an ongoing process that I find very exciting.”

Additional information about MCA Chicago is available at www.mca.org. Additional information about green building is available at the green contractor Website of the Mechanical Contractors Association of America at www.greencontractors.us.

Chicago MCA was formed in 1888 by a group of progressive steam and hot water heating contractors as the Master Steam Fitters of Chicago.

In 1892, the group negotiated the first Steam Fitters Agreement between the Contractors Association of Chicago and the Journeyman's Association of Chicago, the predecessor to UA Local 597, the largest pipefitter local in America. It was the first of many agreements that resulted in over a century without a work stoppage.