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Real Life Church goes underground

Environmentally friendly design runs into permitting problems

Posted: August 23, 2008 9:01 p.m.
Updated: October 25, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Pastor Jeremy Vanderlinden, from Real Life Church, stands on the construction site of their future environmentally friendly church. The sanctuary plans to open December 2009.

Construction is underway, but Real Life Church has come across some obstacles as it continues building an environmentally friendly church in the Santa Clarita Valley.

The problems center on the church's underground design, according to executive pastor Jeremy Vanderlinden.

So far, construction crews from Sylmar-based Vision Builders Group have created a roughly 15-foot hole in the construction site located off Newhall Ranch Road at the back of Bridgeport Marketplace.

"That's the difficulty of it," he said while standing before the hole.

As a result, the pastor said the church has run into permitting problems.

He said church leaders will continue to meet with city officials. Vanderlinden said they hope to have the permitting issues worked out by this week.

By next month, he said the workers should lay down the concrete for the building's foundation.

Because creating an environmentally-friendly church is such a large undertaking, Vanderlinden said they hope to be done with the first phase of the church, which would include the main 1,200-seat sanctuary, amphitheater and coffeehouse, by Christmas 2009.

The remaining two phases, which would house the student ministries and children's services offices, would be completed later on.

Vanderlinden puts the entire project at 100,000 square-feet.

Despite the difficulties, Vanderlinden said the church has kept to its green design and remains on budget.

The highlight of the design is the landscaped roof, complete with trees and grass, which would create a pleasing view for the Valencia residents that live behind the Real Life Church site.

Because the church will largely be underground to reduce energy usage for heating and cooling, the only open wall would be the entrance of the church.

Inside the building, Real Life will house waterless urinals and longer-lasting materials. With every environmentally-friendly feature, Vanderlinden said they plan to attain a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating, a certification given by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Regardless of the delays and bumps, Vanderlinden said the church, which currently meets Sundays at West Ranch High School, is committed to building the innovative building.

"We really felt compelled to stay true to the neighbors," he said.


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