Bricks Made of Recycled Tires, Plastic Make up Paths in JJC Formal Garden

JJC used bricks made of 2,685 reclaimed scrap tires and 86,000 reclaimed plastic containers to build the walkways in the formal garden near the new Greenhouse Facility.

What does a college offering a greenhouse management program need most? A greenhouse, of course. And if a college is going to construct a new greenhouse, why not a green greenhouse — one that meets LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards from the U.S. Green Building Council?

So it is that Joliet Junior College became the first community college in the nation to boast a greenhouse registered for LEED-NC (New Construction) certification.

The Greenhouse Facility, which had its grand opening in April 2010, includes three separate greenhouses, a multi-purpose classroom, gardens with a courtyard and walkways, and bioswales for stormwater management.

The greenhouses, which total 9,000 square feet, are Proline Aeromax models manufactured by Stuppy, Inc., Kansas City, Mo. Green building elements of the structures include twin wall polycarbonate construction, passive ventilation from the roofs, and recycled content in the steel framework and the concrete slabs on grade.

A climate control system from Priva monitors and adjusts the environment in the greenhouses every six seconds.

“For our horticultural sciences students at JJC — students in landscape management and contracting as well as nursery and greenhouse management — the new greenhouse facility is an ideal learning environment,” James Ethridge, Ph.D., JJC greenhouse management instructor, said. “One of the lessons they learn is the importance of considering green materials and techniques from the start of project planning.”

Choosing Pavers for the Project
Jason Lembke of Legat Architects in Chicago explained that the design for the facility features walkways and a small courtyard, which all together total 5,375 square feet. A green paver product was not initially specified.

“It was Illinois Brick that suggested VAST Composite Pavers because of their recycled content,” said Ethridge. “As soon as I saw these pavers, I knew they were perfect for the project.”

Illinois Brick Company in Palos Hills, a leading brick distributor with the largest available inventory in the Midwest, was a major supplier for the project.

“With the growth of green building and more and more projects seeking LEED certification, we want to fulfill our customers’ demands for green building products. That’s why we decided to distribute VAST Composite Pavers,” Kevin Terven, hardscape manager with Illinois Brick, said. “We thought that VAST is a green material just right for the JJC project.”

VAST Enterprises is the material science research and manufacturing company that invented composite masonry for green building.

VAST produces green building products with its patented technology that transforms recycled, post-consumer rubber and plastics into composite masonry: an advanced, highly engineered, and environmentally friendly construction material for hardscapes and landscapes.

VAST’s composite material is a proprietary blend of up to 95 percent recycled tires and plastic containers.

“The VAST Composite Landscape Pavers used in the Joliet Junior College project amount to 2,685 car tires and 86,000 plastic containers ,” Andy Vander Woude, chief executive officer with VAST Enterprises, said. “That’s a significant amount of material recycled instead of ending up in U.S. landfills.”

The VAST manufacturing process requires 94 percent less energy and releases 89 percent less carbon dioxide than concrete product production. VAST production emits no mercury, generates no volatile organic compounds, yields zero scrap, and creates products that are 100 percent recyclable.

All VAST composite masonry products are cradle-to-cradle green and can help projects earn more LEED credits than any other pavers. For the JJC greenhouse facility project, VAST contributed to several LEED credits, including 4.1-2 (recycled content).

“I first learned about VAST from Jim Ethridge at the college,” Lembke said. “I liked the product aesthetically. It was a strong material choice for the project — all the more so given its recycled content.”

Phil Rausch, a former student of Ethridge and current employee of K&D Landscape Management in Rockdale, managed the paver installation at the Greenhouse Facility.

“I’m third generation in landscaping. I grew up on clay pavers. Concrete pavers just don’t have the real color of clay bricks,” Rausch said. “The first thing I noticed when I saw VAST pavers was the deep, rich color.”

Installation and Results
VAST Composite Pavers are one-third the weight of concrete pavers, and VAST’s paver solution features a patented grid system.

The grid sections are set out on the base that has been prepared for pavers. Then the pavers are inserted into the grid, and they are automatically spaced and aligned. With the combination of the grid system and weight advantage, contractors can reduce paver installation time by 65 percent or more.

“My foreman figured out the geometry of the grids pretty fast and actually had a lot of fun with that,” said Rausch. “Once the crew got the hang of it, we were plugging and chugging right along, especially since the light weight of the VAST pavers makes them so easy to handle.”

Two colors were used: Redwood and Boardwalk. Greg Pierceall, JJC landscape design instructor, created a pattern with a running bond in Redwood with a soldier course in Boardwalk.

Sustainability at JJC

JJC’s Greenhouse Facility

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