Beyond the Build

Green Building

Glimmers of Green: Unexplored Niche Markets in Construction

ruffnerA small but growing portion of our business is what I would call “green building.” After the construction of our new LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) silver certified office building last year, we have been exploring several other projects in the Birmingham area as a way to diversify our business, encourage environmental sustainability and ultimately make ourselves more marketable. Many new government and public buildings are already built to LEED specifications and, with the current political atmosphere, I see public works on the rise in the coming years. The number of private LEED projects is growing as well, and the US Green Building Council is the governing body behind accreditation of both types of projects.

The Ruffner Mountain Nature Coalition was founded in 1977 as a non-profit organization dedicated to creating a nature center a few miles east of downtown Birmingham. Since then, their Nature Center has grown to more than 1,000 acres of untouched forest. Preserve rangers lead free hikes and tours for groups and individuals who want to learn.

For the past three decades they have operated out of a small block building. Seeing the potential to reach more people, they decided to upgrade their facilities. After several years of fundraising, Ruffner partnered with the KPS group to design a state-of-the-art LEED certified visitor’s center and education pavilion. The design used sustainable architecture, rainwater collection systems and lots of recycled and reused building materials.

Stewart Perry came into play as a LEED certified building contractor. We broke ground in August of 2008 and finished in July of 2009. The new visitor center has meeting and conference rooms, a woodland animal exhibit hall, small shop and an information center, but most of all, it shows a respect for the land it’s built on.


Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.