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ENERGY STAR Labeled Building Profile

274 Pittsboro Elementary School
Pittsboro, NC 27312
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The Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA (RAFI-USA) is a private, non-profit organization located in Pittsboro, North Carolina. In 1997, the Foundation's members decided to move from rented space to their own building that would house staff offices, rental offices for like-minded non-profits, and a conference center.

A full-day design charrette (brainstorming meeting) was conducted at RAFI's purchased site, with architects, engineers, RAFI staff and board members, municipal officials, and community leaders. The charrette included a walk-through of the 2.8-acre site to analyze land features, and a tour of the two-story building dating from the 1830s to evaluate options for reusing the aged structure. Among the conclusions from the charrette, was the decision to deconstruct the building and use as many of the old materials in the new structure as possible since that would reduce both hauling costs and the costs for new construction materials.

RAFI staff and the design team decided to focus on sustainability, with energy efficiency deemed a necessary component. The architect determined an energy use target early in the design process and worked with the engineer to select an HVAC system that would meet the needs of the building and not be oversized. As changes were made that affected energy use, the design team conducted simulations to ensure that RAFI's energy performance goal was achieved.

The most effective energy strategies were daylighting, passive solar, energy-efficient lighting, natural cross ventilation, R-19 insulation in the walls and R-30 insulation in the ceiling, and a high-efficiency HVAC system. Energy simulations indicated that these techniques would reduce lighting loads by 70 percent and cooling by 50 percent from the baseline design, minimize heating requirements, and prevent the emissions of 300,000 pounds of carbon dioxide annually. The construction and equipment costs for the RAFI building totaled about $150 per square foot, and the operational costs are about $0.60 per square foot.

Additional design strategies included managing water consumption required for staff use and landscaping, using finishes and materials low in volatile organic compounds to improve the indoor air environment, and recycling materials from the existing building to minimize landfill debris during construction. The driveway and parking areas were designed to minimize storm water runoff by using gravel instead of impervious surfaces. The new one-story design was elongated on the east-west axis to maximize natural lighting in the offices and meeting rooms. All offices were designed to face south and use ambient indirect and task lighting.

The 5,100 square-foot RAFI-USA building was completed in 2001. It scored a 90 out of 100 in 2002, using EPA's Web-based energy performance rating in Portfolio Manager, and became the first office building in North Carolina to earn the ENERGY STAR.




"Setting an energy use target at the outset, simulating energy use during design and construction, and tweaking designs as necessary kept the RAFI building on track to achieve its energy performance goal."
-- Alicia Ravetto, AIA

Please note: Narrative information in this profile has been provided by RAFI-USA (Rural Advancement Foundation International - USA) or a representative of this facility. Other building information was verified and submitted to EPA at the time of application. Building energy performance, operating characteristics, and ownership/management may be subject to change over time.

Building Owner:*
RAFI-USA (Rural Advancement Foundation International - USA)

Property Manager:*
RAFI-USA (Rural Advancement Foundation International - USA)

Year(s) Labeled (Rating):
2002 (90)
2003 (95)

Facility Type: Office

Total Floorspace: 5100 sf

Year Constructed: 2000

Contract Type: None

Technologies Used:
   Stage 2-Lighting
   Stage 3-Load Reductions