Story of Fort Collins’ net-zero L’Avenir building to be featured in Rocky Mountain PBS program

L'Avenir is featured on an episode of Heart of a Building, a series about ultra-green living spaces.

The irony that the site where Fort Collins’ greenest multi-family complex building stands used to be a gas station is not lost on Laurie Davis. 

“We just felt passionate about doing something that we believe in and that is for the planet,” Davis said during a local PBS program about L’Avenir, a four-unit townhome in Old Town that produces more energy than it uses. “It’s really important that architects and developers and contractors that have the knowledge and the ability to do these things, really put their money where their mouth is.” 

The 4,600 square foot area at the corner of Oak and Mathews Streets used to have two underground gas tanks that required mitigation so it was not an environmental hazard. Using ground source heating and cooling, thermal storage, solar panels and other innovative environmental technology, the building is somewhere beyond LEED Platinum status, the highest level of the recognized green building rating system. 

The tale of how Bob and Laurie Davis of Davis Davis Architects developed L’Avenir will be broadcast at 10 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 21 on Rocky Mountain PBS and is available online. The program is included in a new series called Heart of a Building hosted by Paul Kriescher. 

Collaboration with CSU’s IBE

Staff and students from Colorado State University’s Institute for the Built Environment (IBE) worked with Energy Logic to help L’Avenir attain its LEED status. 

Brian Dunbar, IBE’s executive director, said the series about new and renovated projects focuses on why owners seek to create healthy, sustainable buildings. He said it is likely that future Heart of a Building programs will highlight other Colorado projects and, eventually, projects throughout the nation. 

“We don’t get to talk about positives,” Dunbar said during the L’Avenir program. “We talk about being less bad. This (project) is good. It’s actually doing good for the planet.” 

The homeowners’ association at L’Avenir includes shared use of an electric car, and occupants park their personal vehicles in a nearby city parking structure. It is estimated that it costs $1.92 to charge the electric car for 160 miles compared to $25.25 for a gas vehicle. 

When it comes to heating, the program points out that a gas furnace provides residence owners with $.95 worth of heat for every dollar spent. At L’Avenir, the geothermal system provides $4 worth of heat for every dollar spent.  

In his wrap-up of the episode, Kriescher called L’Avenir a “beautiful, healthy, sustainable, livable work of art.” 

The Institute for the Built Environment is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.