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Test Case Is a Green Showcase


BY Dennis Paiste
MSNBC
February 14, 2009


Bedford - Sullivan Construction's recently retrofitted headquarters could be the
first in the state to win Platinum LEED certification.

Sullivan has applied to the U.S. Green Building Council for recognition of its
investment in energy-efficient heating, cooling and lighting, water
conservation, recycled materials and other environmentally friendly materials at
its 258 South River Road site.

The council runs the trademarked Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
(LEED) green building rating system, which certifies green buildings in the
areas of sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency,
materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

Sullivan, which had $39 million in revenues in 2008 and about 30 employees,
appears to be weathering the recession. "I think what sustains us is that we
have really great long-term clients, that we've worked with for a number of
years, very loyal. (They) continue to work with us and we're very grateful for
that," said Thomas F. Sullivan, president.

He said 78 percent of the firm's clientele is repeat business.

"We have some good projects that are ongoing, that we think will get us through
the tough times," he said.

"We have a very positive outlook on our business. ... This green initiative is part of it."

The headquarters has become a showcase for potential clients to see.
"It gives us a leg up on our competition, and others in the industry," Sullivan said.

Since March 2003, 15 New Hampshire construction projects have received LEED
certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, including seven Gold and
seven Silver level awards.

They represent a mix of commercial, retail, educational and nonprofit uses and
range from the Society for Protection of N.H. Forests in Concord to AVA Gallery
and Art Center in Lebanon.

Sullivan hopes to join the list and become the first to win Platinum
certification. As of now it is the only project in the running for that
designation. The company is working with the Jordan Institute in Concord and
Berard-Martel Architecture Inc. of Bedford to accomplish that.

New look, new name

At its new headquarters, where it moved last October, Sullivan has used bamboo
for floors and for desk partitions in reception areas; tiles and carpets with
recycled content; low energy lighting and sensors that dim lights when natural
light is bright or turn lights off and on when people enter or leave the room;
and infrared sensors to keep lights on when people are present.

Concurrent with the move, the company also shortened its name from John B.
Sullivan Jr. Corp. of N.H. Inc. to Sullivan Construction Inc.

Green work

Sullivan recently submitted a bid for a federal General Services Administration
project that had a required green component. "A lot of the government work that
you'll see coming out is going to have definitely green components to it," Sullivan said.

"As a company, we're very well versed in those types of things," he said.
Current Sullivan projects include the five-story, 105,000-square-foot Indian
Brook Medical Office building for Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover. Summit
Land Development is the owner and Wentworth-Douglass is the building's sole
tenant. It is scheduled to open by late March.

Sullivan also has done work for CVS in Augusta, Maine, and Saugus, Mass.
"We're doing some work right now for MIT in Cambridge," he said.

Home work

Sullivan's retrofit of its own, two-story, 6,000-square-foot building retains
exposed original post-and-beam construction while adding a Dakin electric heat
system with 11 zones.

"The 11 zones in the building will allow people in different areas to either
call for air conditioning or heat depending on whether they're on the sunny side
or the shady side of the building," said Robert Smaha, director of business
development.

Since Sept. 15, Sullivan's energy costs have been $5,100, including heating,
ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system, lighting and well water.
Operating costs for the building are $2.10 per square foot, compared to typical
costs of $3 per square foot for similarly sized buildings, Sullivan said.

"This is an annual operating savings of $5,400," he said. "We want to show our
clients how we can save them money."

Sullivan pulled off exterior siding and added insulation. Attic space was
upgraded with sprayed-in foam and air sealant to prevent heat loss. Low water
usage toilets and faucets cut water consumption.

Electric-powered office equipment is 90 percent Energy Star compliant. Wood
products were certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and low-emission
paints, coatings and sealants were also used.

The project received a $4,000 rebate from Public Service of New Hampshire for
its energy efficient lighting and an $11,000 rebate for its HVAC system. Annual
savings of $515 in lighting, paying for itself in 2.6 years and $2,276 in
heating costs, paying for itself in 1.7 years, are projected.

The business was started in 1970 by Tom Sullivan's brother, Jack, and moved from
Cambridge, Mass., to Bedford in 1980. Tom Sullivan purchased the business from
his brother in 2005 after 19 years with the firm.

Sullivan Construction bought the 258 S. River Road property last June for $1,265,000.

The property also includes 2,900 square feet of office space formerly occupied
by Nationwide Insurance, which is currently available for lease.

During the last recession, in 1991, John B. Sullivan Jr. Corp. of N.H. Inc.,
then at 288 Route 101, Bedford, went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy when banks
called in notes based on land and property values caught between the building
boom of the 1980s and the recession of 1991.

"My brother Jack was forced into bankruptcy when his bank swept his checking
account, and he had no choice but to file," Tom Sullivan said.

 

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