Samaritan looks to fall groundbreaking for cancer center

Samaritan Medical Center, Watertown, is starting a new advisory council that will include former patients as members. The health care provider aims  to receive feedback from people who have experienced care as consumers so hospital officials can better address patient needs and solve problems. Photo by Justin Sorensen, NNY Business.

Samaritan Medical Center, Watertown, is starting a new advisory council that will include former patients as members. The health care provider aims to receive feedback from people who have experienced care as consumers so hospital officials can better address patient needs and solve problems. Photo by Justin Sorensen, Watertown Daily Times.

Samaritan Medical Center officials hope to break ground in the fall on a new comprehensive cancer treatment center. [Read more…]

Peak sustainable living: Aubertine & Currier designs unique straw bale house

Aubertine and Currier Architects, Engineers and Land Surveyors has designed a unique straw bale home in Henderson with a variety of other sustainable features as well. Straw bale insulation dramatically cuts heating costs. Rendering courtesy Aubertine and Currier

Aubertine and Currier Architects, Engineers and Land Surveyors has designed a unique straw bale home in Henderson with a variety of other sustainable features as well. Straw bale insulation dramatically cuts heating costs. Renderings courtesy Aubertine and Currier

Melanie D. O’Brien, originally of Staten Island, acknowledges that both she and her husband Robert M., “by our nature think very long-term.”

Coupled with the pair’s environmental consciousness and intrepid spirit, it’s a patience that will serve them well as they reap the energy savings on what could be the north country’s first ever straw-bale home on Route 3 in Henderson, which they plan to start building this spring.

That’s straw, not to be confused with livestock-edible hay, and lots of it. Five hundred, 18-inch thick by 14-by-36 bales of straw, to be exact.

“Straw is basically rot resistant, insect resistant, moisture resistant,” said Brian A. Jones, one of two architects at Aubertine and Currier Architects, Engineers and Land Surveyors, Watertown, who have spent the past three months designing the house for the O’Briens, researching innovative techniques and soliciting their input on aesthetics.

Straw bale houses are popular in drier climates particularly in California and the Southwest. In the north country’s wetter climate, the design required careful position of the straw bales above the floor, insulation that the designers say is likely to slash heating costs at least in half. Straw will rot if left directly in water for extended periods of time. [Read more…]

Taking a green path: From Watertown to Massena, businesses design to LEED

The new performing arts center at SUNY Potsdam, slated for completion in December, is one of many buildings in the north country that was designed to LEED specifications. The firm Pfeiffer Partners Architects used a special insulation technique to achieve maximal energy efficiency. Melanie Kimbler-Lago/ NNY Business

The new performing arts center at SUNY Potsdam, slated for completion in December, is one of many buildings in the north country that was designed to LEED specifications. The firm Pfeiffer Partners Architects used a special insulation technique to achieve maximal energy efficiency. Melanie Kimbler-Lago/ NNY Business

In recent years, a crop of green buildings has been sprouting up in the north country. From Watertown to Massena, environmentally friendly buildings are incorporating the latest in sustainable technology and achieving Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification in the process.

This designation, established in 1998 by the U.S. Green Building Council, recognizes sustainability and efficient use of resources by building designers and owners. And according to area architects, it’s becoming increasingly common in Northern New York.

“We are definitely seeing more people interested in it,” said Brian A. Jones, LEED-certified architect and partner at Aubertine and Currier in Watertown. “I believe it’s going to be a wave of the future and eventually a requirement for all buildings. Energy’s not going to get cheaper, and it’s going to be more vital to conserve our resources. People are realizing they’re going to have to live and build differently to afford living here.”

Aubertine and Currier’s most recent LEED-certified project was the 7,800-square-foot Land Port of Entry facility at Cannon Corners for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Customs, and Border Protection. This $7.5 million building, located in Mooers Forks, achieved silver certification after it was completed in January 2012. It includes a rain catchment system that collects rainwater for reuse in toilets and washing machines, solar panels that provide energy for hot water heating and a variety of green materials in its construction. [Read more…]