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MUSCATINE, Iowa – “In the great Stanley tradition, we can’t just have a party to celebrate this amazing new headquarters, we all have to do a little work,” Robert C. Orr told an audience of more than 200 Muscatine leaders, dignitaries and friends gathered for the grand opening of the Stanley Center for Peace and Security’s new headquarters. “And the work is to make the world a better place,” he told those at the center’s invitation-only celebration. Mr. Orr serves as United Nations under secretary-general and special advisor to the UN secretary-general on climate change; is dean at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy; and is a long-time friend of the Stanley Center having served on its Advisory Council for seven years. While keeping true to its mission, The Stanley Center accepted the Living Building Challenge (LBC) to build its headquarters to some of the world’s most rigorous performance-proven standards for design and construction. The facility opened this spring in downtown Muscatine and once certification is complete, it will be the first Living Building in Iowa and one of only 34 in the world, and one of only two in the world that is a complete building renovation. “Creating a sustainable future for all starts right here in Muscatine, Iowa and it extends to every corner of the globe,” said Mr. Orr. Along the way, the Stanley Center team, architects, contractors, subcontractors and suppliers of all types have embraced the Living Building Challenge to complete the $11 million, 19,260-square-foot renovation of the former Muscatine Public Library. To achieve certification, Living Buildings must generate all of their own energy and be self-sufficient, create a positive impact on the human and natural systems that interact with them, and connect occupants to light, air, food, nature and community. A Living Building is one that gives more than it takes. The LBC will produce 110% of its energy usage with its 150kW, 8,100-square-foot roof-top solar array. And 100% of the building’s water demands will be met on site through rainwater collection, treatment and storage in its two 6,250-gallon cisterns. Another 100,000 gallons of rainwater per year will be diverted from the storm sewer as it collects in its bioretention systems. During construction, 485 tons of reused building materials went into the building while 94.7% of construction waste was recycled to keep 948 tons out of landfills (equal to 79 school buses). In addition to living atrium trees, interior walls growing lettuce and other plant life, the Stanley Center features an outdoor courtyard with a community garden providing fresh produce to a local food pantry. Neumann Monson Architects from Iowa City designed the new Stanley Center headquarters to LBC standards. And in the process, it became champions for the mindset needed by all when it comes to making the world a better place. “If we’re going to make climate change, it’s become clear that we’re going to have to be renovating our existing building stock rather than just starting fresh,” Tim Schroeder, president of Neumann Monson, told the QCBJ. “We have to be mindful of the reuse of materials. We have to be mindful of the carbon footprint we create when we simply take something to the landfill versus considering how it can be reused.” Mr. Schroeder said although the LBC has a major focus on the sustainability of building materials, another big part of the challenge is how companies run the operations of their businesses. One specific LBC standard is that at least two participating organizations in the project carry the Just Label. The International Living Future Institute, which sponsors the LBC, also has established the Social Justice Label 2.0 as an independent, third-party measurement for effective management related to social equity and employee engagement. Neumann Monson earned its Just Label in 2020, along with the Stanley Center. Mr. Schroeder told the QCBJ that the project’s general contractor, Graham Construction, also earned the Just Label certification. He added that each of the trade partners involved with the project went through a Just assessment to at least see how they would score. According to Mr. Schroeder, it’s important to get others involved in the industry educated on the many elements of sustainable building design. “Advocacy is another LBC standard. That advocacy and providing the education on those aspects of what the living building is all about,” he said. Another ripple caused by the Stanley Center LBC project is that Neumann Monson now is updating its own offices in Iowa City to follow more mindful sustainable design practices. “Our goal is to achieve Living Building Core certification which allows us to do it in a more typical cost-point, budget range,” Mr. Schroeder explained. “We held ourselves to a strict budget and we started digging deeper into reusing whatever we could. What we couldn’t reuse we figured out ways to salvage it or donate it and there was a significant savings there.” Mr. Schroeder told the QCBJ that the old mindset in architecture has been to just build a new building because it’s easier and cleaner. “There’s a lot of education to be done, but I think the architectural community is realizing that we’ve got to be much more mindful about the reuse of materials that we already have and buildings that we already have in order to have a successful future,” he said. In terms of the Stanley Center meeting LBC standards going forward, Dane Lovell, facilities maintenance superintendent, explained that the concept of ‘handprinting’ helps the Stanley Center make up for things it can’t do. The limited footprint of the building and city code requires the building to remain tied into sewer and water infrastructure. Through handprinting the Stanley Center has purchased and installed high-efficiency washers and dryers at its neighbor – the Muscatine Center for Social Action (MCSA) – which in turn earns it credit toward achieving some of the LBC standards. “They are great neighbors and it’s exciting to envision the new ventures that may happen going forward,” Bob Allbee, the MCSA interim director, said. “They have already helped the shelter become more resource friendly with our water usage and the solar panels are already proving to be a nice addition to the neighborhood.” Mr. Lovell discussed the ripple effect, too. Not only are all of the building materials in the Stanley Center on the approved list of safe and sustainable products, but cleaning supplies, furniture and virtually everything in the building must meet high standards. “Allsteel (HNI) really got in the game,” said Mr. Lovell. “They hired three engineers to get their stuff on the approved list. It’s not just HNI, it’s with their vendors. They’re going to be huge in helping to spread this word.” Lisa Brunie-McDermott, HNI’s director, Corporate Social Responsibility, said that two specific Allsteel product lines (glass wall panels and desks) installed in the Stanley Center have earned the Declare Label. A sort of nutrition label for building products, the Declare Label lets purchasers know what chemicals and other materials go into the manufacturing process. She also said the company seeks to have 100% materials transparency in line with its 2025 corporate goal. “The Stanley Center project gave us more understanding and insight as a team as to what it will take to achieve our corporate goals,” said Ms. Brunie-McDermott. The ripple effect caused by the Stanley Center for Peace and Security along with its new, soon-to-be Living Building headquarters surely will impact the region and the world. At the grand opening in early June, Mr. Orr told those assembled: “This gorgeous, impressive and sustainable new headquarters for the Stanley Center is the physical embodiment of a vibrant institution that builds on strong Stanley, deeply Muscatine and quintessentially American legacy. I look forward to working with you to achieve a more peaceful and sustainable future for all in decades to come.”