Type: Office and warehouse
Addition size: 9,600 square feet
Lot size: 35,245 square feet
Architect: Vanman Architects & Builders
Details: EcoSmarte, a 15-year-old water filtration company, has plans to expand its headquarters in Richfield along Interstate 494 with a 9,600-square-foot addition to its 5,750-square-foot building.
After hearing praise from the city's planning staff that ECOSmarte's proposal is exactly the kind of redevelopment effort being sought along the I-494 corridor, the Richfield Planning Commission voted unanimously Oct. 26 to approve the plans submitted by Larry Couture Jr., the company's chief executive officer.
Couture said that while 2009 hasn't been the best year for the company, its industry niche -- providing eco-friendly pool and municipal water filtering systems that don't use salt or chemicals -- has been "doing better than most industries." He told the commission the addition would be used, in part, to produce EcoSmarte's Glass Pack water filtration media, meant to replace sand or zeolites in water purification systems. The media is made from 100 percent recycled glass, which is sterilized and machined to a sugar-like consistency and contains no silica, which has been identified as a health threat to human lungs.
The company also manufactures and installs a chlorine- and salt-free pool and spa sanitizing system that uses copper ionization technology originally developed in the 1960s for NASA. ECOSmarte's website says the system uses a chamber to release copper ions into pool water as it passes through. Ionization is said to be very effective at killing algae, germs, bacteria and viruses, and also softens minerals in the water.
The new addition will be a model of sustainable water management meant to showcase the company's commitment to the environment, Couture said. It will include an on-site filtration system that will recycle runoff from the parking lot for irrigation and potable water use; rain barrels; photovoltaic panels, and a rainwater hydrology display.
The addition will also include a retail showroom, as well as several apartments that would be used to house ECOSmarte's corporate guests, because many of the company's customers are from overseas.
Don Jacobson, a freelance writer based in St. Paul, can be contacted at email@example.com.