Green architect 

Conrad Cortellini’s Broad Ripple project

“I’m a Green architect,” declares Conrad Cortellini over a cup of strong coffee at the Monon coffeehouse near his Broad Ripple home. Cortellini, whose family migrated from Italy to Indianapolis in 1952, has spent most of his life working, studying and enjoying his adopted Northside neighborhood. Already a licensed architect, Cortellini recently became a member of the United States Green Building Council and is an accredited LEED professional, an acronym that stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED develops standards for Green building and Cortellini would like to see Broad Ripple make a name for itself as a Green community.

“I’m trying to paint pictures about how we are living life and how that might change,” Cortellini says.

For Cortellini, this means trying to create a building in Broad Ripple that might serve as a model of Green design and prove that going Green can enhance property values. Cortellini has been commissioned by Van Kirby, the owner of the Van Salon building on College Avenue, to convert his structure from a single-family-style house to a three-story, five-unit condominium. If Cortellini and Kirby can win the approval of neighbors and the city zoning commission, the project will meet enough of the 69 points for Green construction specified by LEED to be granted that organization’s gold-level designation.

“You have to build a high-performance envelope, to insulate it superbly,” says Cortellini in describing what it takes to live up to LEED’s code for building standards. “That enables you to minimize the size of your mechanical systems.”

Other Green considerations include developing a plan to prevent pollution during the construction process, selecting a site that avoids building on virgin land and creating greater density instead of sprawl. “That way we humans occupy less of the planet.” In the case of the Broad Ripple project, five units will be created on a lot where there used to be one house.

The project site is on the same block as a bus stop, providing easy access to public transit — another Green objective — and the plan calls for scaling back on the site’s parking capacity. Indeed, Kirby is looking into the possibility of offering condo buyers the option of sharing hybrid cars. “We want to discourage the automobile, not romance it,” Cortellini says.

Cortellini has also formed an organization, Green Broad Ripple, which he hopes can serve to educate the community about the benefits of going Green. To this end, he has engaged local restaurant owners Gino Pizzi and Rob Sabatini in a conversation aimed at encouraging the recycling of bottles. “A pile the size of my house is carted off to the landfill every week,” claims Cortellini, referring to Broad Ripple’s bar and restaurant consumption.

Cortellini believes that Green represents a great opportunity for those willing to seize it. He points out that banks are lending more money to Green buildings because of the longevity built into Green design. But he also thinks a Green focus can serve to bring the often fractious Broad Ripple community closer together. “It’s a vision of what Broad Ripple can be,” he says. “It’s concise.”

To contact Cortellini about Green Broad Ripple, e-mail

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David Hoppe

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