Small Town America Is Building. And Building Green!

Spring 2012
Sustainability is alive and well in the rural farming community of Effingham, Ill., home of two new state-of-the-art buildings.

At a time when few construction cranes were in operation, the small town of Effingham, Ill., had not one but two working, and on adjacent private projects. These two projects, an 80,000-square-foot mid-rise office and a 100,000-square-foot technology center, were designed with LEED certification in mind and were completed near the end of 2011.

What is even more noteworthy is that these developments reside in a rural farming community (population 12,384) in Illinois, a state with a 10 percent unemployment rate. No, Effingham is nowhere near Chicago. In fact, the community is located four hours south of the city. So, it begs the question, what is going on in Effingham? How is Effingham defying the odds? The two aforementioned projects were developed in business parks owned by NAIOP member Agracel, Inc.

Effingham is a city with vision and opportunity. The community is chocked full of progressive, eager leaders with an entrepreneurial spirit. Leaders, who for years have been setting the stage to make Effingham a development dream. Families and businesses alike have found a home in this central Illinois community -- a community that offers big city conveniences with small-town attitude.


Variable air volume boxes with hot water re-heat are provided throughout occupied areas, helping Midland to use approximately 30 percent less energy than buildings that meet today’s standards.

Mid-size Bank Leads by Example

The Midland States Bank’s development of its new, four-story, 80,000-square-foot, LEED-certified corporate office is located on 4.69 acres. The company is one of only a handful across the Midwest that has put forth such a commitment to environmental sustainability. “We have a 130-year history of investing in people and communities,” said Leon Holschbach, president and CEO of Midland States Bancorp, Inc. of Effingham. “When creating plans to build our new headquarters, which we needed to sustain our growth, we made a commitment to leave a footprint on this community of sustainability and environmental respect.”

The resulting design is an office complex that uses approximately 30 percent less energy than buildings that meet today’s standards. To achieve this high efficiency, the building includes technology such as a complete building automation system (BAS). Energy metering systems provide the ability to monitor trends, set points and graphics showing the system schematics and floor plans locating each piece of HVAC, plumbing, fire protection and electrical equipment installed. This allows Midland to closely monitor the energy usage and efficiency of the building’s systems. The BAS system is also Internet accessible for remote monitoring. An energy recovery wheel is used to pre-condition ventilation prior to entering the central air handling unit to save on energy costs. Variable air volume boxes with hot water re-heat are provided throughout occupied areas to provide personal controls to building occupants. Additional design features include solar and sun shades.

Other areas where Midland has gained LEED points include implementing attributes that reduce the “heat island” effect, such as using concrete paving instead of asphalt and constructing the roof with a white membrane material. Water efficiency needs are met by the installation of low-flow plumbing fixtures. Lastly, the building and its large open tower design were designed to maximize daylighting within, to reduce the need for electric lighting and also to provide exterior views for every employee.


Midland States Bank’s new LEED headquarters features a building automation system to provide energy data on each piece of HVAC, plumbing and electrical equipment installed. 

Daylight sensors are integrated into the lighting system. When daylight is available, the lights adjust accordingly. Occupancy sensors throughout the building control lighting and ventilation to save energy. The control systems are all Internet accessible allowing employees to program for future occupancy. Bank News Media recently honored The Redmond Company, the project’s architect, by awarding them the Innovative Solutions Award for 2010 for their LEED Certified Building Design of the Midland States Bank headquarters.

In light of the recent economic downturn, Midland States Bank is one of the few mid-sized banks that have prospered. In fact, in the last five years the bank has grown from $385 million in assets to over $1.5 billion, including the acquisition of a dozen Amcore Bank, N.A. branches in Northern Illinois. The bank raised $60 million in new equity in 2009 and 2010, with the bulk of that capital raised in the local community. Midland now has a total of 28 bank locations in 20 communities with over 300 employees.

Building a High-Tech Haven

The second development belongs to Patterson Companies, Inc., headquartered in St. Paul, Minn. The upgraded Patterson Technology Center sits on 23 acres. To appreciate the planning behind this state-of-the-art facility, one must understand the businesses that comprise Patterson Companies. The new 100,000-square-foot facility strengthens the comprehensive software development, digital technology and call center support capabilities in the markets served by Patterson Dental, Webster Veterinary and Patterson Medical.

The Patterson Technology Center staff of nearly 400 specially trained technical support representatives, software developers, implementation experts and others now have the most advanced tools at their fingertips -- all designed to support the experience healthcare professionals have using the technology. The new facility, which has the capacity for 600 employees, features simulated dental, veterinary and rehabilitation environments showcasing the newest technology products and seamless integration capabilities. Additional upgrades include:

  • Expanded quality assurance and usability labs for testing software and observing users as they navigate the software;
  • SMART Board technology;
  • Expanded resource rooms equipped with products to facilitate customer service; and
  • Ongoing hands-on training to showcase the innovation of manufacturer partners.

The Patterson Technology Center houses training rooms, software testing labs and call center support for Patterson Dental, Webster Veterinary and Patterson Medical.

Patterson, much like Midland, has taken every measure to minimize the impact on the environment, meet quality standards and implement energy-efficient and environmentally friendly practices. “From initial planning phases and throughout the construction process, the company has placed a high priority on being kind to the earth and protecting the environment,” stated Pam Hemmen, vice president, Technology Services, Patterson Companies, Inc.

The interior of the building contains occupancy sensors and daylight controls on all light fixtures, allowing natural daylight to illuminate work areas and ensure that lights are turned off when not occupied. Low-flow plumbing fixtures will save approximately 250,000 gallons of water per year. The building is flushed with fresh air every 6.5 hours; approximately 25 percent of the building air is filtered and conditioned. Low Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) materials are used throughout the facility.

Additional features that will help Patterson achieve LEED certification include a cafeteria roof that grows vegetation to reduce heat and improve stormwater collection. The parking area includes 26 reserved spaces for fuel-efficient vehicles and three electric car charging stations. The building materials were made of recycled content and sourced from manufacturers within 500 miles of the site.

Patterson Companies is a global provider of complete, progressive solutions to the dental, veterinary and rehabilitation supply markets. In addition to responsive, local support, customers benefit from direct access to an unprecedented technology support infrastructure, led by the Patterson Technology Center. The Patterson Technology Center is continually researching, developing and upgrading technology and support to keep pace with growing demand for greater efficiency and profitability for healthcare practices.

Congratulations to Midland States Bank, Patterson Companies, Inc. and the City of Effingham on keeping small town America building – and building green!

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