Green Scene: Half-Moon Outfitters is grabbing for green during renovation

Half-Moon Outfitters, a North Charleston, S.C.-based outdoor specialty retailer with five stores and a growing Internet business, has acquired a building that will become the company's new office and distribution center. While that kind of news is, well, less than thrilling to most, it is what Beezer Molten, Half-Moon's owner told SNEWS® he is doing with the building that snapped us out of our "ho-hum" response into a full "wow – that's cool" mode. The retailer has taken what could be a simple renovation of a building that is slated to become its offices and turned it into a one of the more advanced environmentally sound restoration projects we've heard of.
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Half-Moon Outfitters, a North Charleston, S.C.-based outdoor specialty retailer with five stores and a growing Internet business, has acquired a building that will become the company's new office and distribution center. While that kind of news is, well, less than thrilling to most, it is what Beezer Molten, Half-Moon's owner told SNEWS® he is doing with the building that snapped us out of our "ho-hum" response into a full "wow – that's cool" mode.

The retailer has taken what could be a simple renovation of a building that is slated to become its offices and turned it into a one of the more advanced environmentally sound restoration projects we've heard of.
"We are doing this because I believe that it is the right thing to do," Molten said, "and that as an outdoor industry company, we should be leading by example."

Currently, Half-Moon is in what Molton called "a very dysfunctional work environment."
 
"We are in a compound of warehouses that are cut up and divided right now, and our team is spread all over the pace," he told SNEWS®.Â

Molten added that since the company was growing, and in the process of ramping up its online business, it needed to establish a much more efficient work environment and distribution center. And so the company went shopping.

The building that Half-Moon acquired is located in the Park Circle area of North Charleston and was originally constructed in the early 1940s to house a Piggly Wiggly Grocery store. Over the years, it has become many things, including most recently, a transmission shop.

While the history of the building intrigued Molten, it was the possibility of creating the ultimate work environment that drove the decision to buy, and his decision to make the renovation as green a process as humanly possible.

"I have been thinking about a green building forever," said Molten. "With this building and the opportunity the renovation presents, I am looking to create the ultimate work environment that is important to everyone that works here. It will be an idyllic indoor environment where we will feel like we are outside all day, where the air is so clean you can't tell you are inside, and the light so good you don't have to turn on a lamp."

The plans for Half-Moon's new distribution center and offices are to make it as green a building as possible as defined by the U.S. Green Building Council (www.usgbc.org). What that means is the building will utilize all available technologies to reduce its environmental impact and footprint.

Plans for the renovation incorporate a five-kilowatt solar system, gray water recycling and rainwater collection for irrigation, geothermal HVAC, and construction using recycled or sustainably harvested materials. All desks and shelving will be made from wheat board and recycled two-by-fours. The 11,900-square-foot building will have outdoor views from every corner and at least five percent of the roof will have skylights.

To arrive at the facility, Molten is adding a 2,500-square-foot second floor which will add additional light to the main floor, and will also serve as the support for 28 solar panels. With the solar program, Half-Moon will become one of the few companies in South Carolina that utilize Net-Metering – feeding excess power back to the grid.

In addition, all paints and carpets required in the building will be of varieties that utilize no volatile organic compounds, meaning that the finished empty space should be essentially free of any odor or contaminants, Molten told SNEWS®.

Outside, the large grocery store parking lot will be more than cut in half, with landscaping including trees, grass, and an area for the staff to be able to head outdoors and sit or toss something on an available grill for meals. Indoors, showers, a locker room and bike racks round out the remodel to provide a place that staff can use following workouts, outdoor play, and to clean up after biking to work.

The renovation schedule is aggressive, Molten admits. Ground breaking is scheduled for Jan, 15, 2006, with a goal of having the new facility open and occupied by April 15.Â

"The entire process will be meticulously documented in both print and film and we intend to publish the results to those who are interested so that they may use our experience as a template for how to incorporate elements of green building into their own projects," Molten said.Â

The project has been submitted for USGBC LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System certification.

Molten told us that the project is certainly more expensive (between $300,000 and $350,000 for going green compared with $200,000 to $250,000 for a standard renovation), but cost was not a motivating factor, nor are the prospects of available tax credits.

"To be honest, I can't even tell you what tax credits might be out there, other than solar ones," Molten told us. "We'll certainly take advantage of any program or credit we can, but that is not why we are going green."

Molten added that he trusts that it will mean something to his customers when they know that they are receiving a shipment from a distribution facility that is green as possible, and that the potential of additional business due to that will serve to mitigate the added cost. And if his customers don't respond as much as he hopes, Molten said he still knows that he is doing the right thing that is good for the environment, himself, his company and his staff.

The SNEWS® headquarters in California converted to solar power in 2004 and currently feeds electricity back to the grid. SNEWS® is committed to further the communication of the green message. Our regular "Green Scene" column takes a look at what our industry is doing well, what it can do better, and provide inspiration and ideas for establishing our industry position as the leaders in green for both preservation and profit. If you have ideas or issues you would like to see us discuss, send an email to: GreenScene@snewsnet.com.
 

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